At St. Stephen’s, we believe first and foremost in the Gospel, that is the Good News of God’s love come to us in Jesus Christ.
We believe that we experience this love and grace of God anew each day, and that experience propels us forth to love and serve others. Throughout the week, our members strive to live by faith, serving others freely and generously in all that they do, trusting in God’s promises. In small group bible studies and at sick beds, in our homes, and jobs, and in daily work, we strive to let this faith and trust saturate all of life.
We believe that the life of faith is quite a journey…with ups and downs, bright days and dark ones, deep challenges and profound joy. Throughout this journey, we are rooted in our baptisms, when we are claimed once-and-for-all as children of God. In our faith, baptism is not a once-and-done event, but an ongoing force in our lives, washing us clean each day and grounding us in a community of fellow Christians amidst all of life’s moments.
We don’t believe that we have all the answers. We know that human understanding is limited. That’s why we gather in worship weekly to be reminded of God’s holy Word; to pray for ourselves, others, and the world God made; to receive God’s presence tangibly through the bread and wine of Holy Communion; and be refreshed and sent into the world to share the Good News we’ve experienced. We need this weekly gathering to sustain us in the life of faith.
We believe in the importance of our ecumenical relationships, that is, in sustaining relationships with Christian churches of other denominations. We believe, as Martin Luther explained in the Small Catechism, that the Holy Spirit “calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.” We also believe in the importance of interreligious dialogue, forming spiritual friendships with our sisters and brothers of other faiths and supporting one another in our ministries.
At St. Stephen’s we celebrate God’s unmerited grace, which gives us the freedom to err on the side of generosity. So we work to welcome people of all faith-backgrounds, ethnicities, economic circumstances, ages, and sexualities into our community. We believe that all people are made in the image of God, and that we are called to love and serve our neighbor in God’s name—however different or similar to ourselves they might be.
We are a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
As a member of the ELCA, St. Stephen’s confesses the Triune God (God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer). We identify our scriptures as the Old and New Testaments (commonly called the Bible). We affirm three historic creeds of the church: the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds. We see the Lutheran confessional writings in the Book of Concord as the basis for our teaching. They are a way of guiding us and helping us to interpret the scriptures. Every Sunday all ELCA congregations gather to hear God’s word from the Scriptures, pray as Jesus taught, and come to the Lord’s Table to receive the grace that God promises. For more on the beliefs and teachings of the ELCA see http://www.elca.org/Faith/ELCA-Teaching.