What do we mean when we say we are a “reformed” church?
The word ‘reformed” might sound intimidating, but at the heart of reformed theology is the basic Protestant belief that scripture trumps everything. All Christian practice and belief must come from the Bible, not from traditions or human opinions. This may seem like a no-brainer but according to the Roman Catholic, church tradition is just as authoritative as the Bible. Tradition has its place but that place is under the Scriptures, not beside them. Christians ought to always be “reforming” their beliefs and practices according to Holy Scripture.
We stand within the rich tradition of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, particularly the theological tradition of John Calvin. The Westminster Confession of Faith, a Reformed confession in the Calvinist theological tradition, written in the 17th century by “learned, godly and judicious” clergy. These men came together when the the English Parliament called upon to meet at Westminster Abbey in order to provide advice on issues of worship, doctrine, government and discipline in the church. It was meant to be an ecumenical document aimed at bringing Christian unity in Britain. The assembly met for five years (1643-1648) and produced the Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. The Westminster standards have served as the doctrinal standards for Presbyterians and many other churches (including some Anglicans, Baptists and independent Congregationalists) for over 3 centuries. The PCA adopted the American version of 1789.
Grace is the only church in the Yulee-Fernandina Beach area that officially teaches and preaches from a Reformed theological perspective. This does not mean we think we are better than other churches, nor does it mean we believe being “reformed” is necessary to be a true church. There are many churches in the area that faithfully preach and teach the scriptures, proclaim the true gospel and are being used by the Lord to reach many souls, and we rejoice in this. But at the same time, we are not ashamed to say we believe the Reformed perspective is the best, most accurate summary of what the Bible teaches.
Grace is a member church of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) denomination within the bounds of the North Florida Presbytery. Founded in 1973 by 250 Presbyterians in response to growing theological liberalism within its parent denomination, the PCA today consists of over 340,000 members in nearly 1700 churches and missions throughout the USA and Canada regionally divided into 89 presbyteries. It is theologically conservative, reformed, and evangelical and has as its motto: “Faithful to the Scriptures, true to the Reformed faith, and obedient to the Great Commission.”