What We Beleive
Our system of doctrine is the Reformed faith, also called Calvinism (because Calvin was the most important exponent of it during the Reformation). It pulls together the most significant doctrines taught in the Bible. These doctrines are set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms (with accompanying biblical references). Our system of doctrine is summarized in the following paragraphs.
Our Articles of Faith
Presbyterian Church of East Africa of the reformed faith. We are guided in our faith by Reformed and Ecumenical confessions of the Christian faith compiled in our Book of Confessions, the most recent of which is the Brief Statement of Faith from 1983:
In life and in death we belong to God.
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit,
we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel,
whom alone we worship and serve.
We trust in Jesus Christ, fully human, fully God.
Jesus proclaimed the reign of God: preaching good news to the poor
and release to the captives, teaching by word and deed
and blessing the children, healing the sick, and binding up the brokenhearted,
eating with outcasts, forgiving sinners,
and calling all to repent and believe the gospel.
Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition,
Jesus was crucified, suffering the depths of human pain
and giving his life for the sins of the world.
God raised Jesus from the dead, vindicating his sinless life,
breaking the power of sin and evil, delivering us from death to life eternal.
We trust in God, whom Jesus called Abba, Father.
In sovereign love God created the world good
and makes everyone equally in God’s image
male and female, of every race and people,
to live as one community.
But we rebel against God; we hide from our Creator.
Ignoring God’s commandments, we violate the image of God in others and ourselves,
accept lies as truth, exploit neighbor and nature,
and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care.
We deserve God’s condemnation.
Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation.
In everlasting love, the God of Abraham and Sarah chose a covenant people
to bless all families of the earth.
Hearing their cry, God delivered the children of Israel
from the house of bondage.
Loving us still, God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant.
Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child,
like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home,
God is faithful still.
We trust in God the Holy Spirit, everywhere the giver and renewer of life.
The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith,
sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor,
and binds us together with all believers in the one body of Christ, the Church.
The same Spirit who inspired the prophets and apostles
rules our faith and life in Christ through Scripture,
engages us through the Word proclaimed, claims us in the waters of baptism,
feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation,
and calls women and men to all ministries of the church.
In a broken and fearful world the Spirit gives us courage
to pray without ceasing, to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
to unmask idolatries in Church and culture, to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,
and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.
In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks
and to live holy and joyful lives, even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth,
praying, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
With believers in every time and place,
we rejoice that nothing in life or in death
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Presbyterian Church of East Africa seeks to manifest visibly the unity of the Church of Jesus Christ and will be open to opportunities for conversation, co-operation, and interaction with other ecclesiastical bodies and secular groups.
The Presbyterian Church of East Africa will seek to initiate, maintain, and strengthen its relations and engage in mission with other Presbyterian and Reformed bodies and with other Christian Churches, Alliances, Councils, and Consortia.
All governing bodies of the Church, in consultation with the next higher governing body, shall be authorised to work with other Christian denominations in the creation and strengthening of effective ecumenical agencies ,for common mission.
The Presbyterian Church of East Africa will seek new opportunities for conversation and understanding with non-Christian religious bodies in order that interests and concerns may be shared and common action undertaken where compatible means and aims exist.
The Presbyterian Church of East Africa will initiate and respond to approaches for conversation and common action with movements, organisations and agencies of the business, educational, cultural and civic communities that give promise of assistance towards accomplishing the mission of the Church in the world.
Full organic union of this Church with any other ecclesiastical body shall be effected by: the approval of the proposed union from the General Assembly and its recommendation to the Presbyteries, the approval in writing of two-thirds of the Presbyteries, and the approval and consummation by the next General Assembly, or other General Assembly specified in the proposed plan of union.
In the search for the unity of Christ’s Church, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa may from time to time receive for guidance, statements of ecumenical consensus that regularly chosen representatives of this Church have helped to formulate. The purpose of receiving such ecumenical statements shall be to guide the particular Congregations and governing bodies of this Church as they share in joint action with other ecclesiastical bodies seeking ways to express the unity of the Church and to discover its possible future form. Such an ecumenical statement shall be approved by the General Assembly as a guide for such shared action, and shall be submitted to the Presbyteries for their affirmative or negative vote, together with a statement of the specific purpose and the effect of approving it.
When the next General Assembly shall have received written advice that an ecumenical statement has received the affirmative vote of a majority of the. Presbyteries, that statement shall serve as guidance for participation in ecumenical activity. Ecumenical statements which have been approved by the General Assembly and a majority of the Presbyteries in the manner described in the preceding paragraphs, shall be published as “Received Ecumenical Statements of Guidance”. Such statements shall not be part of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa unless adopted as amendments pursuant to Chapter Eighteen. Ecumenical statements may be issued only under provisions of the Constitution of the PCEA.
Relations with other Denominations.
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa is in correspondence with the highest governing bodies of those Churches with which it has had historical relations outside East Africa, and with those Churches that are members of the ecumenical bodies in which the’ Presbyterian Church of East Africa holds membership.
When a minister of another Christian denomination is called to work fully under the jurisdiction of a Presbytery, the Presbytery, after the constitutional conditions have been met, shall recognise the minister’s previous ordination to the office of the ministry. Similar procedures shall be followed in dismissing a minister from this denomination to another.
When a particular Church/Congregation of another denomination requests that it be received by a Presbytery of this denomination, the Presbytery shall verify that the Church/ Congregation has been regularly dismissed by the Governing body of that denomination dealing with relations between denominations, and shall then receive the Church/ Congregation in accordance with its responsibilities and powers. Before the final decision is taken, “the Presbytery shall consult the Principal Clerk for advice; he in turn shall consult the Business Committee for authorisation. Similar procedures shall be followed in dismissing a particular Church/Congregation from this denomination to another.
A Presbytery may authorise a particular Congregation to form a federated union Church with a Church or Churches of another denomination, or may organise a federated or union Church acting in concert with a comparable body of another denomination or denominations. A federated Church shall conduct its life and work under a plan of agreement between the Presbytery and the other governing body or bodies. This plan shall be subject to the Constitution, Disciplines or other organic documents of each Church involved. Wherever the Constitutions differ, the mandatory provisions of one shall apply in all cases when the others are permissive.
Whenever there are conflicting mandatory provisions, petitions shall be made to the appropriate governing bodies of the denominations to resolve the conflict either by authoritative interpretation or by constitutional amendment. In case of such federation becoming possible, a legally binding document which clearly stipulates the agreed conditions, relationships and what could happen if the federation were to be dissolved, is necessary.
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