Message from Dr. Scott Dudley on Family Separation
Who We are & What We Believe
First and foremost, Bellevue Presbyterian Church is a community of people who believe in Jesus Christ and trust him so much that we have transferred control of our life into Jesus’ hands. We believe that we all miss the mark of God’s intended best for us, and that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins, that he was raised from the dead showing his power over sin and death, and that he lives within us and transforms us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus loves us just as we are and not as we should be, but he also loves us enough not to leave us the way he found us. Everyone is welcome as we seek together to become more like him. We believe that the Bible is God’s authoritative word to us, and tells us all we need to know about who He is, and how to live a life that helps us become more like Jesus. We seek to submit ourselves to a biblical worldview. We also believe that God is on a rescue mission to his world, and that he came himself in the person of Jesus to revitalize that rescue mission. Through the power of the Holy Spirit he calls us to join him in His rescue mission to bind up the brokenhearted, bring good news to the poor (both economically and spiritually), to help others know of his saving love, and to reverse the effects of the fall in our homes, families, neighborhoods, offices, schools, community, world and in our personal lives. We seek to be a family who is radically devoted to Jesus, to one another and to serving the world, and we’d love for you to join us.
Beyond the above description of Who We Are, there are some other ways to describe our beliefs. BelPres is part of the Christian religion, the Reformed theological tradition, the Evangelical movement, the Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination, and The Fellowship Community.
All Christians agree in affirming the Trinity–One God in three Persons: Father, Son and Spirit–as well as the Incarnation that God became human in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Reformed theological tradition descends from Protestant Reformers like John Calvin, John Knox and others. Among other distinctive features, Reformed theology emphasizes God’s love and sovereignty, election for salvation and service, covenant life, stewardship, the fallenness of humankind, and the preaching of the scriptures.
The Evangelical movement spans traditions and denominations and emphasizes personal trust in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross, interprets scripture more conservatively, and actively participates in engaging cultures to spread the gospel message of loving salvation for the redemption of all creation.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is the largest of several Presbyterian denominations. It traces back to 1793 and is now headquartered in Louisville, KY. Its constitution has two parts: The Book of Confessions teaches what we believe and The Book of Order teaches how our church is organized.
The Fellowship Community is an order within PC (USA) of churches and leaders called together to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ by growing in Christ’s likeness, living by God’s word, and joining in God’s mission in the world. Our church leadership affirms these essential tenets of Reformed theology.
The session of BelPres is committed to providing leadership within our denomination. The Presbyterian Church (USA), like other denominations, is experiencing significant challenges. Some of these challenges are necessary and welcome. Other challenges concern us deeply, fostering confusion and causing some to be distracted from the ministry to which Jesus has called His Church. The pastors and elders of Bellevue Presbyterian Church are actively engaged in welcoming and encouraging positive changes in our congregation and denomination while at the same time we feel called to provide appropriate, biblical leadership to the challenges with which our denomination is struggling. For more information, please contact Rev. Scott Mann.
Affiliation With the Fellowship Community FAQ
BelPres has a strategic plan referred to as our church Roadmap, created by the leadership of our church and approved by session annually with monthly and quarterly reviews..
Partnerships of various kinds provide BelPres with the opportunity to give and receive resources—expertise, personnel, funding, programs, research/best practices, etc.—which are far beyond what we are able to share without these partnerships. Partners benefit from the experience and efforts of one another to maximize their efforts to pursue their mission. Partnerships can also be an expression of like-mindedness, a unity of some common purpose without requiring uniformity or agreement on all issues.
BelPres enjoys many partnerships including all of our missionaries and missions organizations which function as our congregation’s extended family and reflect our church family’s beliefs and values. BelPres partners with many organizations to deep mutual benefit including Jubilee REACH, Center for Champions Rwanda, Young Life, Youth for Christ and more. Other affiliations include:
- Cascade Fellows with Fuller Seminary
- Congregations for the Homeless
- Evangelicals Serving Cambodia
- Missions Fest Seattle
- Perspectives NW
- Presbyterian Church (USA)— national denomination , regional synod , local presbytery of Seattle
- Re:New Homes for Youth with Eastside Academy
- Samaritan Center of Puget Sound
- Willow Creek Association
The mission of the The Fellowship is to build flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ. The Fellowship is a new organization that has roots in several other previous PC(USA) groups such as the Tall Steeples, a group of large evangelical PC(USA) churches, with which BelPres has long been affiliated. The Fellowship is an umbrella association, in and beyond the current PC(USA), through which members can share ideas, ministry resources, and missional strategy. The Fellowship invites Presbyterians to affiliate in order to connect, grow, and pursue a common mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ while sharing a Presbyterian, Reformed, Evangelical heritage. Rather than being preoccupied by unfruitful theological disputes or church bureaucracy, The Fellowship seeks to help churches focus instead on actively pursuing mission and ministry.
Affiliating with the Fellowship strengthens our efforts as well as share what we are learning and doing with others more effectively. BelPres is deeply engaged with the kinds of mission and ministry envisioned by the Fellowship. BelPres’ purpose to participate with Jesus to revive the Eastside and beyond is entirely consistent with the purposes of the Fellowship. Affiliation provides additional clarity about some of our church’s theological positions, allowing BelPres a helpful degree of differentiation from parts of the Presbyterian Church (USA) with whom we disagree while retaining the benefits of our membership in PC(USA).
Many of the large Presbyterian churches with whom we have historically maintained close relationships have affiliated including University Presbyterian, Seattle. For a current list, see The Fellowship Community website.
Because the pastors and elders of BelPres are already committed to and engaged in living out the theology, mission and ministry which the Fellowship encourages and nurtures, our congregation may not experience much change at all. There is an annual Fellowship membership fee of $250 per congregation.
- Reinforces and strengthens our missional emphases
- Strengthens our relationships with and accountability to likeminded others—churches, pastors and leaders within and beyond PC(USA)
- Required session to affirm the Covenant, a grateful response to God’s salvation and our commitment to personal spiritual practices and attitudes
- Required session to affirm the Fellowship’s Essential Tenets, a distillation of the biblical theology articulated in the PC(USA)’s Book of Confessions.
The Fellowship began to be organized in 2011 but BelPres has enjoyed relationships with those involved for decades. Beginning in 2011 BelPres allocated personnel and funding to bring a recommendation concerning whether to affiliate or not to session when the time seemed right. In August 2011 and January 2012, Rev. Scott Mann and Elder Page Brenner attended national Fellowship Gatherings and, with BelPres’ Presbyterian Relations Team, have researched this option since early 2011. On May 3, 2012 the Presbyterian Relations Team made a unanimous recommendation that session vote to affiliate with the Fellowship on June 25, before General Assembly convenes June 30. On May 24, BelPres pastors and executive team both voted unanimously to recommend affiliation. Session has been briefed or had discussions several times including December, January, February, April, May, a special called session meeting June 11, and on June 25, Session voted to affiliate.
We are not currently discussing leaving our denomination for several reasons. First, we believe that unity is very important to Jesus and at this point nothing our denomination has done prevents our congregation from living under the authority of scripture as we see it, and pursuing the mission that Jesus gives us as a church. Second, our denomination is in a significant season of change—the present moment and the future are unclear—so we intend to take one faithful step at a time as the Holy Spirit shapes the future and we discern the purposes of God and how to cooperate. Third, leaving the denomination would require a significant amount of time, energy and attention that would distract BelPres from our main vision, which is to partner with Jesus to bring revival to the Eastside and beyond.
BelPres teaching on various subjects in scripture can be found on our searchable website in podcasts and transcripts of past preaching and teaching or people are encouraged to speak with one of our pastors. BelPres is committed to preaching Jesus Christ and keeping the cross central in our worship and life together. We preach and teach from the Bible from a Reformed and evangelical perspective, dealing with various issues as they are addressed in the Biblical text. We encourage our congregation to follow Jesus as Forgiver and Leader and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth as Jesus promised, recognizing that every Christian is on a journey of growing in knowledge and submission to Jesus and we are called to mutual love and forbearance throughout this process. Occasionally statements will be added to the BelPres website which we hope will prove helpful to our congregation and the larger Church. Click here for the June 2012 statement on Scripture, Sexuality and Church Leadership.