Village Chapel Has No Agenda But to Be Faithful Worshipers
by Pastor Larry Ellis
The Village Chapel
I n response to Dec. 29 column "Chapel History: More Than Buildings," by Richard Moss: I appreciate the author's interest in the history of Pinehurst and the centerpiece of our community, The Village Chapel. The historical details in the first two columns of the article are, to my understanding, correct. However, the article reflects a basic misunderstanding of the nature of our fellowship that leads, unfortunately, to several erroneous conclusions.
In the first place, The Village Chapel is not nondenominational. We are now, and have always been, an interdenominational Christian community. That small difference in prefixes looms large in all aspects of our church family life.
When persons become a part of The Village Chapel, they do not relinquish their cherished faith tradition. We encourage all of our people to remember their roots and to affirm the strengths and contribution of their faith tradition.
At present, we are more inclusive than we have ever been. Our membership runs the gamut from Roman Catholicism to Pentecostal Holiness. We believe that all the orthodox strands of Christian faith have made an enduring and important contribution to the advance of the kingdom of Christ.
We express our diversity by three distinctly different worship services. Our 8:30 a.m. service offers Holy Communion according to the 1928 Prayer Book liturgy. Our 9:30 a.m. family service is a blended service comfortable for those from the free church traditions. And our 11 a.m. worship is a high Protestant service familiar to Methodists and Presbyterians.
Philip Melanchthon, 16th century contemporary of Martin Luther, is famous for writing: "In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity," We seek to apply his dictum at The Village Chapel. We honor Holy Scripture as the rule of faith and practice and view the doctrinal contents of the Apostles' and Nicene creeds as essentials. These are the universal affirmations of faith that define Christianity.
At the same time, we understand that faithful Christians differ in the interpretation of elements of the creeds and of Holy Scripture. And if we disagree, we seek to do so with respect and humility. We accept that we do not all have to agree in detail, as long as we celebrate the heart of the faith. Where the creeds and Scripture are silent, we enjoy the liberty of the free exchange of thought and discourse.
Finally, in all our interactions, we strive to remember that through faith in Christ, we are brothers and sisters, the children of God. And the new command of Christ to his followers is that we love one another. "By this, all men will know you are My disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)
Actually, the later part of the article demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of the Christian experience. All Christian bodies are conservative, by their very nature, in that they attempt to conserve and teach the revealed truths that are the common heritage of our faith. Additionally, all Christian bodies are evangelical, which means they are proclaiming the good news that God loves us all and has provided for our salvation through Jesus Christ.
To suggest, as the article does, that in earlier decades, members of The Village Chapel were "nontheological" - that is, not seeking the knowledge of God - would have been highly insulting to them, and certainly completely in error. Further, the overwhelmingly vast preponderance of Christian communities are Trinitarian and believe that there is one God, who has manifested himself to us in three persons. For us to affirm this means that we are completely orthodox in our teaching.
To say that The Village Chapel has "a decided political agenda" is simply wrong. We have only one agenda, and that is to be an orthodox, faithful church of Jesus Christ.
But don't take my word for it. I join the author in encouraging the readers to visit our website, www.thevillagechapel.net, where you may read or listen to all the sermons preached in The Village Chapel over the past three years.
Further, I encourage the author and the reader to visit any or all of our services. I believe you will find us welcoming and inclusive of all who are seeking to know Christ and to find the will of God.
After all, we believe God created us, loves us and wants us back. We are busily "cramming for finals," so that when that day comes, each of us will have done our best to present ourselves to God as ones approved, workmen who do not need to be ashamed.
The writer is pastor of The Village Chapel in Pinehurst.
More like this story