Mercy Hill is a family of believers and their children who seek to love God by "helping people thrive in Christ."
This mission is worked out through the following three-part vision: (1) worship on the Lord’s Day in Word and Sacrament, (2) gathering in homes as disciples in community, and (3) tangibly serving those around us ("mercy ministry"), sinners, skeptics, and everyone seeking God’s mercy.
Evangelical. The story of Jesus Christ is called the "evangel" from the Greek word EUANGELLION, which means "Good News." Sometimes, the good news is described as the Gospel. Evangelicals have historically centered their Christian faith on this Gospel, though historically we have struggled with mixing too with many tangents and side issues into the batter.
Evangelical refers to beliefs which are similar to many many other Bible-based protestant churches other Bible-based protestant churches, centering on three items: 1) belief in the Bible as God's inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word; 2) salvation through Jesus Christ alone; and 3) a commitment to live out our faith under the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of our lives.
Reformed & Presbyterian
We are also a reformed and presbyterian church family.
The word "reformed" comes from the Protestant Reformation, a time in which learning, scholarship, and piety flowered as the Church recaptured many of her ancient roots. This means we love Luther's teaching on Galatians, Calvin's summary of the Christian faith (helpful articles here, here, and here), and the lives and ministries of great early protestant divines like Ursinus, Knox, and Turretin, as well as their sons and grandsons, like Owen, Rutherford, Bunyan, and Edwards. The reformation was both continental and English; the PCA hails more from the English and Scottish sons of the Reformation, and includes both Puritan and Establishment aspects.
Browse the following links to learn more about what we mean by "reformed."
- the Solas of the Protestant Reformation are as important today as they were in the 16th century.
- the Westminster Shorter Catechism, especially what it teaches about justification, sanctification, adoption, and glorification of believers; but also what it teaches about the sacraments and preaching. (Wikipedia gives a brief background on the WSC here.)
- this summary from Acts 29 on their beliefs about what the terms evangelical, missional, and reformed mean to this largely baptistic network of church-planting churches.
Consider the following links to what we mean by "presbyterian."
- From Theopedia, here is a broad overview of some of the higlights of being a presbyterian as well as the main presbyterian branches.
- of the several branches of Presbyterians that are out there, ours is the Presbyterian Church in America, or the PCA. We consider ourselves as Bible-believing, conservative, and mission-minded Christians. We began as a 1972 off-shoot from the old Southern Presbyterian Church (called the PCUS). Here's a brief history of the PCA.
- the book On Being Presbyterian is a useful summary by PCA author, of some specifics about what we mean by being both reformed and presbyterian. You can check out the author's blog here. See some power points of his book here. Order the book here. Listen to sermon audio from Sean here.
- This article by Dr. Alan Strange, though long, detailed, and rooted in another presbyterian body (the OPC), offers two helpful ideas about Mercy Hill: (1) we are "...associated with the European Reformed tradition with its strong emphasis on the place of the objective standards and often associated with exacting scholarship"; and (2) that we seek a "recovery of a vibrant confessionalism and liturgicalism from our Scottish and continental roots [as] desirable for the ongoing life and health of the church."
- This is for the ambitious reader, from the PCA's historical website. It traces some of the PCA's roots to the Scottish reformation in the seventeenth century. It is true we are part of the covenanter tradition, but do not hold to that viewpoint ourselves. Our similarity with the Reformed Presbyterians can be summarized with this phrase from the article: "Their formal principle was the Bible; their material principle, the Gospel as defined in the Confession of Faith; and their practical principle, Covenant life in a Pres- byterian Church."
- Also from Theopedia (above), here's a link to this audio MP3 at the Trinity Foundation, a lectury by Gordon Clark, What Do Presbyterians Believe? (Not for the faint of heart; it is twelve hours long; and Mercy Hill is not aligned with all of Dr. Clark's views.)
Missional. Part of the emphasis of the Reformation was a protest against dead orthodoxy; and early on in the Protestant movement, missions and expansion by way of preaching the Gospel were strongly emphasized. Christians who believe the Gospel are to show and display that love to others: "we love because He first loved us." (1 John 4)
Also emphasized in the reformation was the importance of the laity, or what's sometimes called "the priesthood of all believers." Ministry is both a professional and specialized calling, but also the calling of every believer: "...to equip the saints for the work of ministry so that the Body of Christ might be built up." (Eph. 4:12)
Browse the following articles for more specifics on what we mean by missional:
- Ten Characteristics of a Missional Church by Scott Thomas.
- Several articles here on our website that discuss being missional, including a helpful short article by Tim Keller.
A Resurgence. In recent years there has been a resurgence of the combination of these truths (evangelical, reformed, and missional), a resurgence sometimes called "the New Calvinism," or "the missional church.”
Ephesians 4 combines these three streams of Christian thought quite well: the church is emphasized, and the preaching of the Word, as well as its outworking in and through the lives of God’s people, for the health and extension or expansion of the church in the world.
Thus, our understanding of “church” is that is that having heard of the grace of God (the evangel), we are made part of His church (reformed, presbyterian) and are to share it in the places we live, work, and play, as God's ordinary missionaries (missional).
Our hope as a congregation is that God's glory (which the reformers grasped) will be expressed in our neighborhoods and towns by fully formed followers of Jesus who not only love His mission into their lives, but are willing and prepared to follow His leading as missionaries into the lives of those around them who are spiritually, emotionally, or physically lost or broken.