Our Values

 

IMG_5714A Spiritual Home in the Real World

– We are not a church with its head in the clouds. We take seriously the demands, joys, struggles and hopes of human life and the present realities of the modern world.  We feel called by God to participate in Christ’s ministry of repairing a world that is broken and building up the kingdom of heaven here on earth.

A Progressive Voice

– We believe in a still-speaking God who is still at work to renew the church and the world it strives to serve. We acknowledge that the church has sometimes done more harm than good and has hurt and excluded those Christ called us to serve.  We are outspoken in our commitments to LGBT rights, interfaith collaboration, economic and racial justice, and peace at home and abroad.  We love our nation as we love our church – with our eyes open.

A Thinking Church

– We embrace science and acknowledge the validity of conflicting perspectives. We believe that truth is best discerned when it’s discerned together and with all the information available.  We believe that wrestling with questions and facing doubt is an integral part of faith.

An Outstretched Hand

– in friendship, solidarity, and service. Church just isn’t church unless we are practicing what we preach – enacting, as best we can, the love of Jesus for “the poor, the hungry, the sick, the lost, the friendless, the oppressed, those burdened by unjust policies or structures or anyone in distress.”  We gather here, not to retreat from the world, but to live more fully in it.  This conviction is expressed through community meals, prayer vigils, visits to those who are homebound or ill, the administration of community-building grants from the Clara Gott Fund, and a partnership with local farmers and food pantries that connects people in need with nutritious local produce.   We also provide fellowship opportunities through the Men’s Group and Women Unabridged; and we participate each year in the Presbyterian Peacemaking Offering, as well as in One Great Hour of Sharing, which supports disaster assistance, hunger alleviation and the self-development of people locally and all around the world.

An Historic Landmark Building –

Our recently restored, tall-steeple, New England style building was constructed nearly 250 years ago – before the Revolutionary War – by some of the first European settlers to this area. It is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places and is a point of great pride both for us and for the community as a whole, which has worked so hard to preserve it.

A Place of Refuge

– St. Peter’s Church is open 24/7, and that’s no accident. You are always welcome here.  Our serene worship space provides a wonderful place to sit and think (or pray or cry or yell or rest) at any time of day or night.  One of our members tells the story of when she ran away from home for several days as a teenager – The safest hiding place she could think of was St. Peter’s.  Cyclists and hikers drop by to use the restrooms or fill up on water; historians, genealogists and neighborhood children come in to explore; and many others come to worship services and other events to find community and spiritual nourishment; but whatever your needs – this space is open to you.

A Heritage of Inclusivity

– St. Peter’s has a long-held tradition of inclusivity. We welcomed our first African American member, Lilla Van Buren, in 1826 – more than 30 years before Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation!  That tradition is still being lived out, including through our involvement with Presbyterian Rainbow – A coalition of churches that works for the full participation of LGBT folks in the life of the church.  We consider our diversity one of our greatest gifts.

An Intergenerational Crossroads

– There are fewer and fewer places in our society where people of various ages can engage with one another in authentic, ongoing, and mutually-empowering relationship. Even within families these ties are so often missing.  In too many places, both children and elders are seen only as needy recipients of care, without gifts of their own to impart.   Here at St. Peter’s, we value each person and strive to foster one another’s gifts, which we see as crucial to our mutual thriving.

A Gathering Place –

St. Peter’s has long been a place for people to gather and connect with others – in times of joy and in times of sorrow, for spiritual sustenance and communal fun. Whether its weddings, funerals, juggling troupes, theatre, music, community meals, Ukrainian egg-decorating, painting projects, summer camp or worship – St. Peter’s is a hive of activity and many a lasting friendship has been made in the fray.

A Community Laboratory –

This is a safe place to experiment and try out new ideas. The big experiment that occupies most room in our hearts and in our building, and the one that is most challenging and rewarding, is the one that Jesus himself began, building on the foundation of his Jewish faith:  community – how do we thrive together?  How do we stay connected and real?  How do we trust and forgive, confront and comfort, nurture and empower?  It is here, in this diverse and sometimes conflicted community, more than anywhere else, that we experience the presence and providence of God.

A Still Striving People

– We are so proud of our church community, but we know also that there is always room for improvement, more to learn, and more work to be done. We are still living into the identities listed above, and still discovering new ones.  We have worked hard and found great joy in following God this far, but our journey continues.