What does Presbyterianism mean?
Literally it means ruled by “elders.” Admittedly it is not the catchiest of names. Our church is not run by ministers or bishops, but by elected “elders,” who are not necessarily old, they are just considered good leaders by their peers.
Who is welcome to worship here?
What do you need to believe to worship here?
You only need to be looking for something or someone beyond yourself. Believing that you are not God is also helpful.
Is it okay if I just drop by and not become a member?
Of course, you are always welcome. We have many long-term worshippers in our community who are not officially members of our church. Each person’s prayers, meditations, and songs come together to create our shared worship.
Do I have to get dressed up on Sundays for worship?
No. Shoes and shirts are appreciated. Some people do get dressed up and others don’t. You are good either way.
Why do your ministers wear black robes?
They are just academic robes because we understand the primary function of our pastors is that of teaching. It also lets our head of staff get away with wearing black chinos.
If I visit you in worship will you bother me?
We might send you an email note or postcard, but otherwise we won’t contact you unless you ask to be contacted.
What happens during worship?
At the front door you will find printed orders of worship (“bulletins”) that will explain what is going on. Sit wherever you wish. The hymns and prayers are listed in the bulletin. You are invited to stand for the parts marked with an asterisk. During the responsive prayers, the congregation reads the bold text.
At one point in the service, everyone is invited to greet their neighbors with the “passing of the peace”: We shake hands and say “Peace of Christ be with you.”
After the sermon, we pass the offering plates. This is a strictly voluntary opportunity for anyone who would like to make a donation to support the work of the church. Offering envelopes are available in the pews.
What about my children?
Children are an important part of worship. In the coat rack area there are “Pew Packets” with activities for the children to use during worship. For babies and younger children, we provide a nursery on the lower level, near the church office. Elementary age children are invited to come up to the front of the church (chancel) during the time with children. When they are done they are invited to go downstairs to Sunday school classes.
Who runs the church?
Fairmont is led by an elected church council called, “the Session,” consisting of twelve women and men. The Pastor serves as the moderator of the Session. The property of the church (physical and financial) is maintained by a separate board called, “the Trustees.” Finally the caring ministries of the church are overseeing by a third board called, “the Deacons.” Together, the Session, Trustees, and Deacons, are the officers of Fairmont.
Do Presbyterians treat women and men differently in church roles?
No. The Presbyterian Church limits no offices or functions on the basis of gender. We believe that God blesses both women and men with the gifts for ministry.
Does your church get involved in politics?
Jesus seemed to have distinct opinions in favor of the poor, the outcast, the socially marginalized, and people trying to make peace. We support the causes Jesus favored. But we do not get involved in partisan politics and never endorse candidates. You will find liberals and conservatives in our congregation livingly happily alongside each other. Our own branch of Christianity, the Reformed family of faith, believes that every person should be involved in public affairs, but how you do that is between you and God.
How do you become a member?
Ask the pastor. Generally we have prospective member classes four times each year. Members are formally received by our session (church council) and then recognized in worship.
What do you have to believe to become a member?
1. Jesus is Lord and Savior, which means Jesus’ authority preempts everyone else’s and he uses that authority to save us and heal creation.
2. Evil is a bad thing best avoided (okay, this is an easy one)
3. That you are seeking to be a follower of Jesus (remember this is always a work in progress)
What about the whole predestination thing? I don’t think I like that.
Oh that. Not much to say about it. If God is all-powerful and all-knowing then, by definition, whatever God wants God gets. But it is well above our pay grade. So, we just leave it at this: whatever God wants to happen will happen. Beyond that you’re likely to give yourself a metaphysical headache.
What is communion?
Communion (aka Lord’s Supper or Eucharist) is a ritual that we share with most other Christians. It involves prayer, the reading of scripture, and eating a little bit of bread and grape juice (or wine) as a way of remembering Jesus’ final meal and lesson with his disciples. It is both a memorial to what Jesus did and an object lesson of who God is for us. We believe that when we do it together we connect with God by and through the Holy Spirit.
Who can receive communion?
Everyone who trusts in Jesus. You don’t need to be Presbyterian. It’s not like we copyrighted it. The meal belongs to all Christians so we invite all Christians and everyone who wants to join Christ’s table.
Okay then, what is baptism?
Baptism is an initiation ceremony in which a person becomes a part of the covenant community of God’s people. For Christians this replaces circumcision (whew!). We also understand that it is a way of symbolically dying (drowning) and rising with Christ.
Why do you baptize babies if they don’t understand baptism?
If you waited until we understood baptism then none of us would ever be baptized. Since God’s choice is way out of our league to begin with, we baptize babies to emphasize that it is God choosing us that is important not us choosing God.
Why does your church face East?
Actually, we face towards Jerusalem. We expect good things from that direction someday.