We exist to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbours as ourselves.
Who we are
We are a group of Christian congregations within the Church of England, in the Diocese of Carlisle. Our group includes the Anglican parishes of Askham with Lowther, Bolton, Cliburn, Clifton & Brougham, Crosby Ravensworth, Great Strickland, Morland and Thrimby.
We are part of a Christian movement, “God for All”, which aims to help every person in Cumbria of all ages and backgrounds to have an opportunity to discover more of God and God’s purpose for their lives, so that they will discover more of Jesus and the Good News and become followers of Jesus within a Christian community. For more information, visit www.godforall.org.uk
If you would like to know more about the Christian faith, please contact our Rector, Revd Stewart Fyfe (01931 714620 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
What we believe
In common with the Christian Church throughout the world we believe that God has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ, an actual historical figure, who lived in Israel around 2,000 years ago. His life and teachings are set out in the Bible, in the books of New Testament known as the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Of all the things that Christians believe about Jesus, the key thing we believe is that, though he was executed by the ruling authorities of his day, he rose to life after three days in the grave (an event referred to as ‘the Resurrection’). We believe that his death and resurrection are deeply significant for our lives.
The Bible tells us that Jesus ‘bore our sins in his body on the Cross’ (1 Peter 2:24). Accordingly, he died to take away every wrong thing in this world – things we have done and things we have suffered. His death means we can be forgiven and put the past behind us.
And the Bible tells us that his resurrection was to give the same resurrection life to us (Romans 8:11). That is the eternal life of God, given to us as a gift, so we can face the future with hope and joy, believing that our best days are always ahead of us, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:11)
Above all, we believe that Jesus calls every human being into a relationship of deep and profound love with him – a love that heals all our wounds and brings us fully alive. Jesus promised that he had come to bring us life in all its fullness (John 10:10)
That is why we are so keen that every person in Cumbria of all ages and backgrounds should have an opportunity to discover more of God and God’s purpose for their lives, so that they will discover more of Jesus and the Good News and become followers of Jesus within a Christian community.
Why Church is so Important to Us
Church matters because the God we worship is a relational God and we believe that we were created to be relational beings, bearing his image and loving one another as he loves us. God only ever relates to us in a deeply committed way: true love involves the abandonment of oneself and losing oneself in the love of the other. That is how God loves us and how he calls us to love return. To love God is not possible (in the true meaning of the word love) unless we learn to do it with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. The Church is simply the community of people who have come to know this God and have chosen to live his way. This is not fully possible without becoming a committed member of his family, the Church.
The God who reveals himself to us in Scripture is in nature a Trinitarian God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three distinct persons who are nonetheless one God because their profound and perfect love for one another is supremely unifying, making them one in will, action and being. Their love unites them so completely and profoundly that they are truly one God, even though their individuality remains intact. Put simply, this means that the God we worship is a relational God of love – God is love! God’s being is a relationship of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So powerful and passionate is that love that it is eternally creative and all-embracing. It does not obliterate individuality, but delights in individual uniqueness and unites individuals in mutual love, allowing individuals to discover their true unique selves. Accordingly all creation (including us) exists as an expression of God’s love – every created thing is unique and profoundly loved.
Scripture tells us that we are created in the image of this relational God for the purpose of being in relationship with him – to share and return his love with the same perfect and life-giving passion – and to share that love with each other and with all creation. However, we have marred that relationship through sin. Sin, at root, is a relational problem – our failure to love God as we were created to. From this stems our deepest problems, including failure to love God, failure to see beyond ourselves, distorted self-image, failure (in one degree or another) to relate to each other, lack of care for the creation, material obsession, lack of wisdom and moral wrongdoing. Ultimately it impairs and destroys life and leads us to death.
However, such is God’s love for us that he embraces us, saves us from our sins and invites us back into loving relationship with him. In Jesus, God comes as one of us to live a perfect human life, free from sin. Thus he re-instates the creative life of God within humanity. He also offers us forgiveness by taking upon himself the consequences of our sin (including, ultimately, death) and confers upon us instead, his prefect eternal life.
Eternal life is therefore also a relational concept characterised by (a) restored loving relationship with the relational God (in whose image we are made and whose love is the source of our being); (b) consequently, restored loving relationship with one another; and (c) ethical living in accordance with God’s good purposes and loving care for the whole of his creation. Such life is sustained out of God’s eternal creativity and thus, though it begins now, it is sustained continually – even beyond death.
Accordingly, in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, our sins are destroyed, death is averted and we are invited back into passionate loving relationship with God. This calls us to repent – literally to turn back from the way our lives were heading and go in a completely different direction. In particular, it calls us to turn away from living for ourselves and instead to surrender ourselves in love to God and to one another. This leads to a new kind of community, a community founded upon learning to love in a way that is as committed and self-giving as God is towards us. It is God’s love that warms our dying souls back into life.
This is a difficult lesson for human beings to learn, so don’t expect utopia! But it does make for a different kind of community, where we are committed to each other as we learn the ways of God afresh. We seek to forgive each other, bear with each other, learn together and provide a weekly opportunity to forgive each other and be reconciled. Above all, our love is deepened and perfected in worship as we receive in ever deeper profundity, the unchanging, limitless love of God and find it within our impoverished souls to love him back. We believe that nothing is more ennobling, enriching or important for the human soul.
From this, we hold the following core beliefs:
All creation (including us) exists because of God’s love. Our very existence is an expression of his overwhelming love. The first duty of every Christian is to fathom how deeply he/she is loved by God and the implications of such love for his/her life. That is why we study the Scriptures together and seek to know more of God’s purposes for our lives.
Such love inspires us to repent of sin and to love God in return. As that love is exchanged between us God’s life and ours are merged, just as the lives of Father, Son and Holy Spirit are merged (or to use an earthly example, as the lives of a husband and wife are merged) in love. This exchange of love and life is what we mean by “Prayer and Worship”.
Sharing God’s love in prayer and worship, changes us and makes us more like God. Lives changed in this way can be identified by the characteristics they begin to show. These characteristics are the result of the Holy Spirit shaping our lives with God’s love. They are known as the “Fruit of the Spirit” and each one helps us to relate better to God, to each other and to God’s creation. They are tangible signs in our lives of healing and eternal life.
The more we are drawn into loving relationship with God, the more we are compelled to love one another with the same love that he has shown us. The Church exists in order to be a community in which that love can be learned, practised and shown to the world. It is therefore in the quality ofRelationships we have with God, one another and with the whole of creation, that our faith is supremely expressed. To put it simply, it’s all about relationship! Everything we do, whether worship, projects or stewardship, ultimately aims to improve the quality of these relationships.
That same love inspires us to imitate God in loving not only him and our Christian brothers and sisters, but all creation. And as part of that, we are sent out to share his love with the world by calling others also to shed the shackles of sin and experience the love of God and by caring for God’s creation. This is what we mean by “Outreach & Evangelism” (Evangelism meaning “spreading the Good News about God’s love”). This is the ministry of all the baptised and we do it, not from a position of moral superiority, but with humility, from the perspective of common humanity in mutual need of forgiveness and love. We do so not to conquer the world and exercise power over it, but to redeem the world and share God’s love with all. We do it in word and deed through love.
In all this, we are seeking to imitate the love and humility of Jesus Christ, who embodies what it means to be a perfect human being in relationship with God. That means that we seek to create relationships based on loving self-sacrificial care and to avoid relationships based on power, wealth or status. The greatest honour in the Church belongs to the humblest and most generous. This love and humility is expressed in looking away from ourselves and towards others in loving care, especially those among whom God has placed us. Therefore Service is a core expression of our belief. We believe that when we serve our communities and serve each others, we serve Jesus himself.
All of this is summed up beautifully in the following passage from Scripture:
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us: because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”
1 John 4:7-end