In keeping with the Anabaptist tradition going back to the Schleitheim Confession of 1527, faith at PMC is not focused on a creedal formulation of theology to which people are required to agree. Faith at PMC focuses on shared commitments, formed out of a response to God’s invitation to us, found in Jesus, to seek and find life together. The beliefs we hold come in this context and are shaped by the conviction that faith in Jesus is the commitment to live in and as the body of Christ. PMC is a diverse body, but the beliefs that most directly impact the way we shape our life together are listed below:
Jesus is the incarnation, the embodiment, of God’s life. Jesus shows in his body who God is and how God functions: radical love. From Jesus we learn that groundedness, courage, humility, creativity and solidarity - a depth of presence and participation in life with others - are the stuff of God’s life. Jesus, Colossians tells us is the image of God, so if we want to see what God is like, we look to him, and pray that the spirit and life of God may animate us. Our shared faithfulness is the work of learning to follow Jesus, moving toward greater integrity within ourselves and greater communion with each other, our neighbors, the creation, and God.
The Congregation is the basic unit of faithfulness. God is born in, among and between us. Jesus' teaching is oriented toward life together: how to be a people that live in God’s way, truth, and life, to where we can welcome divine life into our midst. This is how we learn to become part of God's dream for creation (The Kingdom of God, as Jesus called it). Individuals become involved in the congregation voluntarily, taking on the adventure and challenge of discipleship - following God’s way of truth, peace, and justice as exemplified in the life, teaching, and death of Jesus.
Beyond its shared commitments, the faithful congregation is also a community that holds as sacred the diverse stories and identities within it. Different peoples, different bodies, different histories, different families, different languages, different loves and longings all come together in a “new” space, one where who and what we were does not “go away,” but is transformed in meaningful relationship across the diversities that can divide us. This new becoming is also part of the faithfulness of the community called the congregation.
The Bible is scripture for us. It is the collection of stories, poems, letters, genealogies, and prophetic oracles that we commit to reading together in the faith that when we do, God’s spirit will move in our midst, guiding us toward life as Jesus modeled it and as the Spirit of Jesus empowers us to live. The Bible tracks God’s life and relationship with the people of Israel, and continues to follow the blessing as it expands beyond the borders of Israel to include other peoples, including us. God can and does move in us and draw us in through many other means - the beauty of nature, the face of another, or a moment of suffering or joy. But the Bible is the story we always return to, as we seek to both remember and discover who we are in God. We read it in community, discerning together what God has for us.
Conversation and Compassionate Presence are the keys to faithfulness as we understand it. Part of the dance of community is the challenge of allowing individuals - their perceptions, emotions, convictions, thoughts and selves - space to be and breathe, even as we move together in worship, celebration, learning, work, play, and growth. The link between the individual and the community is conversation and the practice of compassionate presence. As disciples of Jesus, we wait with one another - for the thought to coalesce, for the burden to shift its weight, for the joy to emerge, for the clarity to come - and it is in compassionate presence and thoughtful conversation that we walk the lines between the particularities of individual journeys and selves, and the slow movement of growing into the community of God together.
Further, it is through compassionate presence that the life of God is extended beyond those who can “converse.” Babies, young children, differently abled people of all ages, and many others all have a sacred place in our community whether or not they can express faith with words. The compassionate presence of Jesus is the first embrace for any and all of us in the community of love and belonging.
Baptism is the public ritual by which we each commit ourselves to following Jesus’ way in the community of faith, seeking to embody God’s love in relationship to ourselves and others. It is also a conscious invitation to God to inhabit our bodies with the spirit that overcomes death in all of its forms - the spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. It is the commitment to continue to learn and grow as a member of the body of Christ, to seek God’s life and resurrection in our own lives, even as we move through the valley of the shadow of death. It is also a commitment to answer whatever calling God may have for us as we move in community toward deeper and more vibrant life.
Communion is the recommitment of the baptized to live for, in, and with Jesus in life and faith - to follow Jesus' example and movement toward God. At PMC it is also the ritual of belonging, where those who find life in our community claim their place wtihin it, participating together in life animated by the spirit of Jesus.