Principles of Faith and Worship

An open-spirited, affirming, child-friendly congregation.

welcome to full participation in the life of the congregation all who seek to live faithfully regardless of ability, age, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, or social circumstances.

offer the sacrament of communion to all who wish to partake, whether or not they are formally associated with our church, and equally to adults and children.

We offer the sacrament of baptism during public worship to families who wish their children to be part of the church, and to adults who thereby become part of the the church.

offer services of Christian marriage for members and adherents of Westminster United Church and as situations so warrant, for those from outside the congregation who wish to be joined by a service of Christian marriage.

We look for the structure of our worship to the Protestant tradition which emphasizes the Word (in Scripture, prayer and sermon), generally combined with the expression of the human spirit through music.

intend, while primarily reflecting in our worship the immediate heritage of the United Church, to make room also for texts, music, and other expressions drawn from other Christian traditions, especially the ancient church, and, on occasion, from other faiths; we also hope to develop such expressions reflecting our own talents and needs.

We expect that the doctrine taught in our worship shall be in essential agreement with the Christian faith as generally held in the United Church and expressed through its theological statements. That expectation is not, however, meant to forbid speculation, the expression of doubt, the use of metaphors, or the expression of the Christian faith in new terms.

We interpret Christian doctrine with an emphasis on love, liberation and inclusion and expect to hear it interpreted in that fashion in our worship. We assert that worship, although it may be led by an individual, is an act of the whole people present. We attempt to have members of the congregation take visible parts in every service of worship, we include in each service opportunities for the whole people to speak and sing, and we note that listening with an open heart is also an act of worship.

We seek to conduct worship in an orderly and reverent manner, and to make it possible for worshippers to concentrate on the Word of God as it is being proclaimed. At the same time, we assert that the wholehearted expression of joy is a good thing in God's eyes. We are determined not to intimidate those who seek to take part in worship or to destroy their comfort with unnecessary stiffness.

We turn to the Bible in every service of worship, using whatever translations and texts may suit the occasion, but most often preferring those modern translations that are most suitable for dignified public reading, such as the New Revised Standard Version. In general, we follow the Revised Common Lectionary, which links us to other churches and ensures due attention to all parts and themes of the Bible.

We hold fast to Christian faith and the doctrine of our own church as the path to God for ourselves, but we allow that other churches and other faiths are also of God. Especially, we deny that God's Word brands the Jewish people and the Jewish faith as evil, and we avoid the use of Scripture translations and interpretations that might seem to say so. We find special value in nurturing relationship between Christians and Jews, and in remembering the Jewish roots of our own faith.

We choose to express our prayers and proclamations in inclusive language. This is not meant to forbid the deliberate use of provocative language for artistic purposes, or the use of traditional Christian texts (including hymns and older translations of the Bible) where historic or ceremonial reasons outweigh the difficulties created by language that to a modern ear seems exclusionary.

We acknowledge that as a congregation of the United Church of Canada, Westminster is subject to the laws and discipline of the United Church with respect to worship. We respect the right of the minister "to conduct services in the church" and the right of the Session (exercised at Westminster by the Church Council and its worship committee) "to oversee the administration of the sacraments and the order of public worship", as stated in the Basis of Union.

Last Revised June 2010