Praying Hands

Mantra, Mission, & Vision

Our Mantra:

Family serving Christ, loving others.

Our Mission Statement:

Loving, learning, connecting, and growing together in Christ.

Our Mission Statement:

Share the love of Christ, treat others with the heart of Christ, live in the unity of Christ, be empowered by the Holy Spirit, and be ever thankful for salvation in Christ.

Basic Biblical Beliefs & Core Values

Basic Biblical Beliefs: These concepts are the foundation of what we believe.

God's Sovereignty -

We believe there is one God -Father, Son and Holy Spirit - who is eternal and created all. God -- just, loving, and merciful -- designed a way to have a relationship with us.

 

God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to earth, in human form. He lived a sinless life, redeeming us by sacrificing himself. He achieved victory over death. Jesus Christ is the perfect example of how we can live a joyous, just, merciful, faithful and loving life.

God, the Holy Spirit, lives in the believer, and helps us overcome our imperfections/sin. This Spirit guides us into truth as our helper, counselor, and communicates with God on our behalf. We are led by the Holy Spirit to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

 

Love -

First and foremost, we hold fast to God's love and know that it has been liberally poured out on us; it's unconditional and unchanging, and it compels us to love in the same selfless way. His great love has been revealed to us by sending His son, and by His son, openly dying on our behalf. Love is the defining marker for his disciples, and it liberates us to live full lives.

 

The Holy Bible -

We believe that the Bible is the living and true word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and our absolute authority in life. It is good for teaching His principles, recognizing sin, correcting our lives, and training us to be Christlike. God's Word has transformative power to illuminate our spiritual life; a life of joy, peace, and excitement!

Grace & Salvation -

Grace is extended through Jesus Christ. He desires to lavish His gift of grace on us, to reconcile us back to Him through His plan of salvation that is authentically confessing Jesus as the Son of God, turning away from sin, putting him on in water baptism and living a life of faithfulness. We believe He offers saving grace for all to become His children. The gift comes by His sacrificial victory over sin and death, so we might live eternally in His presence.

Church -

The Church is the universal body and fellowship of Christ on earth. It is empowered by the Holy Spirit to continue the task of reaching the lost and discipling the saved, helping them become fully devoted followers of Christ, and manifesting heaven on Earth.

Unity -

Unity is preserved in the Holy Spirit in a bond of peace, by (an active, participatory) faith in the following: One God, The Father; One Body, The Church; One Lord, Christ; One Baptism; and One hope of salvation. We also have Unity-In-Purpose through Christ, and while we may not agree on every point of doctrine, we hold fast to these non-negotiable concepts and agree that each

person's life purpose is to glorify God.

Worship -

Worship is authentic adoration and honor directed at God; it serves to bring us closer both to God and to one another. In our attempt to encounter God and to receive God, we know that loving, faithful, heartfelt worship is more important than rituals or traditions. Expressions of joy, thankfulness, and appeals to God develop our true worship, which is the act of presenting our bodies and lives as living sacrifices to Him.

Service -

A deep abiding faith in God naturally manifests as loving service to others. Christ's example to us was a life of sacrifice and service to glorify God, a natural response of His love. We recognize and embrace that service will sometimes be uncomfortable and risky, yet we serve because he served us first. We, like Christ, serve all people without partiality; and because it's an authentic expression of love it attracts others to kingdom living.

Heaven -

We believe Heaven exists and is our eternal hope and reality that has been prepared for those who love God. There we will worship in the full presence of God. Until then, it is His directive that we bring 'Heaven's ways'; that is, God's Will, down to this earth by the act of our following his son's example. While it is our hope, and while we have full faith in its existence, much of Heaven is a mystery and knowledge of it does not determine our salvation.

Core Values: These principles motivate us to continue on the path of growth, both as individuals and as a group.

Christ Centered -

Jesus is the focal point. He is the example. Jesus is our pathway to God. Individually, we are accountable for our relationships with God and others.

 

Contagious Love -

Christ's love is attractive. When shared, it transforms people. Those who do the will of God are our brothers and sisters in Christ; love is expressed in our relationships with God and people.

 

Inspiring Worship -

Glorifying God is our nature and is visible in vibrant worship. Praise, prayers and preaching are uplifting, engaging, challenging and authentic. Worship inspires us to continuous, Godly living.

 

Joyful Living -

We are continually grateful for God's grace and live in joyful anticipation of what is to come.

 

Committed to Actions -

The Apostle John says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” Our actions are motivated by love, mercy and justice.

 

Living Word - (Truth Of Scripture)

All scripture is breathed of God; all those seeking truth should study scripture personally and in community for approval of God, and to provide value in our lives; enabling us to bring brothers & sisters closer to Christ

 

Better Together - (Unity & Equality)

Being unified in Christ, we offer a welcoming, loving environment to all people, encouraging the use of all our talents to glorify God, as Christ Jesus showed us.

 

Gifted to Serve -

As Christians, we should be committed to helping everyone recognize his or her particular spiritual gifts and talents, and to utilize them. We should be involved, be serving God, and be discovering opportunities to seek and save the lost.

 

Dedicated (Discipleship)

Each of us should be an active member in the great commission, mentoring people in a continual walk with Christ, seeking ways to bear good fruit, and sharing the Gospel in the church and in the community so that others may know and embrace a deeper relationship with Christ.

 
 
 

Ministry Vision

Spiritual Vision

• Be the first place people think about when help is needed.

• Be a Spirit-led church.

• Be a praying church. Praying for God's help, God's guidance, God's wisdom

 

Educational Vision

• Emphasize educational structure, youth & youth ministry

• Evaluate and redesign, a vibrant children’s ministry, utilizing leadership and involvement from our members.

• Use small groups to involve and encourage adult members

 

Empowering Vision

• Many-Mini-Ministries, If you have something to give, then bring it and give it!

• Use our God-given gifts for His Glory.

• Leaders embrace each member's spiritual gifts to empower the member in his/her own ministry.

• Create a church culture that supports and encourages any ministry that's kingdom-building.

• Hosting and helping refugees to re-settle in our community- Canopy

• On-going & continual social-justice-focused ministry for the marginalized.

• Facilitate Missions to enable, incorporate, and attract participation

• Women used in the church as Jesus utilized women, not be a ONE-gender church

• Be less concerned about the “forms” of church, and more about the connection and relationships of the church

• Studies and training to identify gifts and mentor to enable growth in gifts

• Teams to show up & help elderly maintain their home.

 

Evangelistic Visions

• Enable visitors to get involved & get to know the ministries.

• Attract and influence College-age group with ministries that empower.

• Improvements to exterior (curb-appeal!) … see the inside SPARK from the outside

• Signs, Websites, Facebook …

• Name change that shows the vision and identity of our congregation.

• Facilities used for more than just worship - for the community

• Disaster relief team (local) that's trained to respond

• Utilize the facility to offer recovery from any crisis (financial, health, other)

• Offer Christian Retreats (3day) … topics for real-life issues.

Strategies

1. Reinvent our Children’s Ministry

Implement a children's ministry team. The team will research and give advisement to the eldership on a complete renewal of our children's ministry, curriculum, times and facilities.

 

2 Focus On Evangelistic Efforts

a. Commit to continuous improvement in the worship and praise environment; keeping it fresh, inspirational, authentic and Christ focused.

b. Fully utilize all appropriate social media outlets.

c. Improve the outside facility to increase our “Curb Appeal.”

d. Change our name to something that reflects our identity. Identity matters! _________, a church of Christ.

 

3. Involvement Ministry

Our goal is to create an environment where people feel empowered and involved to do good and be involved with some ministry effort. 100% participation is the goal, actively promoting that all members in under a year be involved in some type of ministry. Each person should be able to quickly articulate what resources and talents they are providing for the church and/or community in the name of Jesus.

a. Dedicate a deacon to facilitate and promote the Involvement Ministry.

b. Embrace the concept, “We will involve both genders at the level of participation that we see in the New Testament.”

c. Promote the idea, “People don't need permission to do good things!” nurturing a culture of spontaneous good works.

d. Advocate ongoing social justice programs (i.e. Canopy, Loving Choices, Safety Net) where the “least of these” are aided in becoming self-sufficient and loved.

 

Women Deacons

Recently, our church appointed our first female deacon.  This appointment came after years of study and prayer among our church elders.  As far back as 2014, the Cornerstone Church of Christ leaders have seriously endeavored to more fully comprehend the scriptural role and doctrine of women in the church.

In 2018, leadership invited the entire congregation to participate in casting a vision for the future of Cornerstone.  After more than a year of work and study, one of the goals stated in the vision for our church was, “We will involve both genders at the level of participation that we see in the New Testament.” In response, our eldership decided to follow what we believe to be the original goal of the first century church, a much more egalitarian view.  We consider this decision a return to conservative Christian values witnessed in the New Testament, in both Jesus’ life and Paul’s teachings.  We did not change our stance on women’s roles based on social pressure, personal desire, or popularity, as we knew it would not be popular within our church. The Cornerstone Eldership, as much as possible, strives to be disciplined in keeping personal desires and traditions out of our doctrine and let the Bible speak to us in context. With hundreds of hours of study and deep meditative prayer, we have come to a different understanding than what has been taught in the last few generations by the Church of Christ, an interpretation that better aligns with New Testament scripture. 

 

Many have based their doctrine of women deaconesses on 1 Timothy 2:12 & 3:12 as proof texts that indicate only men can be deacons; the following attempts to speak to both texts.

 

First, there seems to be a misunderstanding among some of what a deacon (diakoneō in the Greek) is. Some see it as being a leadership position. However, the word deacon literally means servant or minister.  An example of this translation appears in Matthew 4:11, “Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering (diakoneō) to him.” To say that a deacon is a leadership position in the church seems to be a misunderstanding of the word and how it is used in context (at least 30 times) throughout the New Testament. A simple Greek concordance will bear this true. The word is always used in the context of being in an obedient position of service. Additionally, deacons are never seen exercising authority over the church. The only people allowed to exercise authority in the church are the Elders of the church. When Paul tells Timothy not to allow women to exercise authority, or usurp authority over men, it does not conflict with women being deacons, as deacons hold no authority over the church. Paul’s statement is also in harmony with Christ’s teaching, whether it be men or women. Jesus says,

 

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant (diakonos), 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 ESV).

 

Jesus’ requirement of all his followers, male and female, is not to exercise authority over each other, but to serve one another.  Deacons are servants; they are people operating inside a specific ministry with a focus on that ministry. For years we have assigned women to different areas of ministry that they have carried out faithfully, yet we have never recognized them as deacons. Our behaviors and our actions have been inconsistent and we want to do better. 

 

In 1 Timothy 2:12, Timothy is most likely in Ephesus when Paul writes to him. Artemis, the goddess of fertility, was an important part of the Ephesian culture (see Acts 19:21-41). Our current understanding suggests that mostly women served as priests in the worship of Artemis in Ephesus. They dominated in their earlier pagan worship and were attempting to dominate now in church worship as well.  We believe that Paul in 1 Timothy 2:12 is telling Timothy, “Don’t allow the women to dominate worship; don’t allow them to exercise any ‘special’ authority over others” and that they should remain “quiet”. That is, don’t let these women meddle in such a way as to disrupt the church. The Greek word for “quiet” here is hēsychia. It is the same word used in 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 in which Paul tells the Thessalonians not to be “busybodies,” but to do their work quietly (hēsychia). We have never interpreted 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 as saying, “members of the church can’t speak.” Rather, a more accurate interpretation of the scripture is that members of the church should not be busybodies, not disruptive people. They should be people who live quiet, peaceable lives.  To be consistent between hēsychia in 1 Timothy and in 2 Thessalonians would either mean, “we are to be people who live quiet, peaceable lives,” or “we are people who don’t speak.” We believe Paul in 1 Timothy 2:12 is simply saying to these specific women “don’t be disruptive, live quiet, peaceable lives.”  To interpret 1 Timothy 2:12 as saying, “Women must be completely silent” would be saying that all Christians are to be silent throughout their entire lives. We have been inconsistent in our interpretations. We believe these pagan “priestesses”, or domineering women, are Paul’s intended target, not all women for all time, and certainly he did not mean that Ephesian women or Thessalonians Christians should be completely mute.

Many point to 1 Timothy 3:11 as “clear established proof” that only male deacons should be allowed. However, study of this verse and its context proves the opposite.  Eldership is a male leadership role, and deacons are made up of both males and females. Let us keep in mind that numbered verses are man-made divisions in the Bible. Taking verses out of context can lead to misguided interpretations. It’s wise to read verse 11 in the context of all of chapter 3. First, it is most unfortunate that some translations have entered the word “men” in the original Greek; the word “men” does not exist in verse 11. Second, verse 11 (1 Tim. 3:11) reads, “Women in like manner…” in the ASV, AMP, CSB, CEV, DRA, EHV, ICB, NABRE, NASB, NASB 1995, NCV, NIRV, NIV, NIVUK, NRSV, NRSVA, NRSVACE, NRSVCE, NTE, TPT, RSV, TLV, and YLT translations.  Even the ESV, a translation many consider one of the most accurate to our 21st century language, puts the footnote “Women Likewise”. In this chapter, Paul lists the qualities of deacons and says, “Women in like manner.” This suggests that Paul is asserting that women are deacons as well. When looking at the text within context, 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (verses that give qualifications for shepherds), Paul doesn’t mention the qualities of a wife at all for an elder. He doesn’t list the qualities of an elder’s wife, rather that the elder must be a man of one wife. Paul is silent on women as elders. In verses 8-13, Paul elaborates on women’s qualities as deacons. This seems to indicate that women are a part of the pool of candidates for deacons and suggests that Paul had every intention for women to participate as deaconesses. Obviously, elders are held to a higher standard than deacons; why would Paul not demand the same qualification of an elder’s wife? Most likely because there were no women shepherds. But, in verses 8-13 the qualities of the women are included. The Cornerstone elders believe this is because Paul had every intention of women participating as deaconesses. He himself recommends them and utilizes them in his ministry.

Paul is clear in Romans 16:1 that Phoebe is a deaconess. Strong’s lexicon is also clear on this. Phoebe of Cenchreae was trusted to carry the book of Romans to the churches in Rome. This is an example of a woman being trusted in a ministry to carry one of the most important books of the New Testament halfway across the Mediterranean Sea. As was the custom of the first century, the carrier of the letter would have also read the letter to the church. Note, this is an example of a woman reading the inspired Word to the church. As the carrier of the book she would have been the authority of its contents, implying that men and women would require her to interpret the scripture’s meaning. If Paul was against women reading scripture or explaining its meaning to others, in public worship or in separate meetings, he would never have ordained Phoebe as the carrier.  Ideally, she was the one who would meet with the Roman churches and explain to them any questions about what Paul may have meant when he used specific statements.  She would have been interpreting for Paul in public assemblies of believers. Paul tells the church, “Give her whatever she may need!” (Romans 16:2). In Romans 16:7, Paul requests that the church also greet “Junia” and goes on to either compare her to an Apostle or say she is an Apostle, depending on the translation you read. Junia is a female name and studies have failed to find any man with that name during that time period. This implies that a woman is either an Apostle or like an Apostle. What does this mean? There are two possibilities here; Junia was a witness to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and has been given the official title of Apostle, or she is like an Apostle, teaching Jesus resurrected. Either way, in any translation, a woman is involved in a ministry in the church. They are deaconesses involved with specific ministries. Remember, Apostle (Apostolos in the Greek) means a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders, or an eminent Christian teacher.

 

We believe there are multiple examples of women in servant ministries. These include: Luke 8:1-3, Acts 12:12, Acts 16:40, Romans 16:3–5, Colossians 4:15, Philippians 4:3, Romans 16:12, Acts 9:36, and John 20:17.

 

There is much more to say about the roles of women in the church; however, that is outside the scope of this article. Our intent here is simply to say, we “the elders at Cornerstone church” believe that women were deaconesses in New Testament times. We are in full support of restoring that ancient position today in our own church.

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 To read more about how our restoration forefathers felt on this subject, please read:

https://stonedcampbelldisciple.com/2011/09/29/voices-on-female-deacons-in-the-stone-campbell-movement/