We have the highest regard for God’s inspired word. We stress the importance of opening the Bible and applying the truths that will transform our lives.
We encourage all generations to come alongside and equip families to grow in faith and maturity in Christ.
We go beyond surface-level interactions to devoted relationships by treating everyone as Jesus Christ did, with respect, dignity and love.
We intentionally commit our hearts, resources and time as we interact with people in our church, homes, neighborhoods, communities and world resulting in everyone we come in contact with, knowing more about Jesus Christ.
We value excellence in all things as in all things we recognize that we are working for Jesus Christ (Col 3:23-24). Therefore, in every connection, communication, environment and ministry we will strive to do everything within our ability to excel and glorify Jesus Christ.
To Pursue and Equip Families to Passionately Follow Christ Together
Statement of Faith
The Statement of Faith of this organization shall be the same as that of the Evangelical Free Church of America, which reads as follows:
We want families to Gather together, Grow in a life changing relationship with Jesus and Engage in ministry.
The following statements on spiritual gifts come from the book “Evangelical Convictions: A Theological Exposition on the Statements of Faith of The Evangelical Free Church of America.
We affirm in unity as a body of believers that:
- Both the gift of the Holy Spirit and his gifts are presented in the New Testament as signs of Christ’s victory (John 7:39; Acts 2:32-33; Eph. 4:8-10)
- The purpose of these gifts is the edification of the church (1 Cor. 12:7; 14:26; Eph. 4:12).
- The Spirit equips every believer (1 Cor. 12:11; 1 Pet. 4:10; Eph. 4:7) so that in some way he or she may serve in the body of Christ.
- The gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed to each as God chooses (Heb. 2:4; Rom. 12:6), yet each gift is important and useful, just as the various parts of a body work together as a whole (1 Cor. 12:12-27).
- Our Statement of Faith does not take a position on whether such gifts are still operative in the church today in order that we may learn to serve each other in our differences.
We deny in unity as a body of believers that:
- Any spiritual gift serves as a sign either of the fullness of the Spirit or of the spiritual maturity of the believer.
This policy is designed to guide us in how we live in fellowship as a church family knowing we come from various faith backgrounds and beliefs in regards to spiritual gifts, especially centered around what some call the “sign gifts” or “miraculous gifts”(healing, tongues, prophecy). We affirm that the use of any spiritual gift God has given us should be centered around Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves” and Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 14:12 that call say “since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church”.
Specific Policy Application
In light of this, when we gather as a church family we ask that no one exercise their gift just as they desire to, but consider our diverse church family more important than any one individual. One way we can do this is to follow the teaching of 1 Corinthians 14 and not use a gift of “tongues” out loud in a worship service or other large church gatherings but instead pray silently “between yourself and God”(1 Cor 14:28), following Paul’s example in 1 Corinthian 14:19: “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue”. Therefore, if you feel you have a tongue or a word to share that might be for Bethany Church in a large gathering we ask that you find or contact a pastor or elder and allow them to hear your word and discern next steps for the best way to build up the body of believers.
In addition to the EFCA Statement of Faith:
1. We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary sexes together reflect the image and nature of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Rejection of one’s biological sex/gender is a rejection of the image of God within that person.
2. We understand that in rare instances, due to the presence and reality of sin in the world, there is not always a clear at birth medical answer to this policy in regards to birth gender. In those cases we will walk a path of healing, restoration, and spiritual accountability in love and patience, understanding that we also do not have all the answers to these rare instances. It is our desire to lead any individual to find their true identity in Christ as to experience all the hope and blessings that come in being created in God’s image.
3. We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity(Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31). Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual have no place in the life of any believer or the body of Christ as a whole and are not in accord with the standard given through God’s Word.
Beliefs and Policy on Sexuality and Marriage
In addition to the EFCA Statement of Faith:
1. We believe the term “marriage” has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture (Gen.1: 27-28 2:18-25). We believe that marriage between one man and one woman, for life, uniquely reflects Christ’s relationship with His Church (Eph. 5:21-33). We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other (1 Cor. 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb. 13:4).
2. We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. This includes both physical sexual contact as well as other mediums of sexual activity such as pornography, sexting, reading, and fantasy/lust (Mat 5:28, 1 Cor 6:18, 2 Tim 2:22)
3. We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including cohabitation, adultery, fornication,
homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, or use of pornography) is sinful by God’s created standard and design. (Matt. 15:18-20; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).
4. We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who repent of any sin through confessing and forsaking their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19-21; Rom 10:9-10; 1 Cor 6:9-11).
5. We believe that we must respond to those that oppose God’s Biblical established plan for marriage and sexuality in a manner that is both loving and uncompromising, with the hope that some may be brought to a saving, reconciled relationship with their Creator God through Jesus Christ. (Luke 5:30-32, Rom 5:8, Hos 3, 1 Cor 5)
6. Due to these Biblical positions previously stated and referenced, Bethany church is unable to perform, participate, or support in any way any weddings or any other use of church facilities that do not submit to the standards presented in this document on Sexuality and Marriage.
Policy Practices on Sexuality and Gender:
Welcoming and Loving People:
We welcome anyone who is not yet a Christian, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, to attend church services with us. You are welcome here! If for any reason you are not received with kindness and dignity, please contact any elder or pastor. We believe every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect because each of us bears the image of God. Men and women who experience same-sex attractions (SSA) or are struggling with gender identity deserve this dignity and respect no less than anyone else. We, as Christians, should demonstrate this in our thoughts, speech, and behavior. Words and humor that demean SSA/LGBTQ men and women have no place in our church or the Christian community. Such demeaning words are a sin, and church members are expected to speak out and address this sin whenever it occurs.
Use of Bathrooms:
Due to Bethany Church’s previously stated sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage, sexuality, and gender, while using Bethany Church’s facilities, we ask that everyone use either: a) the bathroom corresponding to their birth sex or b) a single-person bathroom (if available). Under no circumstances should a person use one of Bethany’s multi-person bathrooms that does not correspond to their birth gender/sex. We understand that due to the complicated nature of this topic some situations might need to be addressed through a case-by-case basis by the Elder Board and Pastors to find the best solution for both the individual and the rest of the Bethany Church Family.
The Heart of Ministry Through These Beliefs and Policies:
We are committed to making our church a safe place for transgender and gender non-conforming men and women to hear and experience the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.
We do not believe a person needs to fully resolve their gender confusion in order to become a Christian. Their struggle may continue throughout their life, even as they grow in their faith. However, we do believe it is sinful to approve of transgenderism (the pursuit of being a different gender than your God-given biological sex), as it is inconsistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption. We believe that the grace of God in Christ enables a person to forsake transgender self-conceptions and to accept the God-ordained link between one’s biological sex and one’s self-conception as male or female.
Practically we understand the need to create specific guidelines when it comes to how to experience the Christian life in specific ministries that are based on gender. People should generally attend a group that corresponds to their birth sex. We desire to be a place of spiritual safety to seek Biblical truth, regardless of what people’s struggles and temptations may be. Therefore, Bethany Church provides many co-ed based ministries in order to reach both genders and create a safe place for genders to come together for spiritual growth.
Self-identifying Christians are expected to be honest about the sex that God has made them; we desire for people to grow in Christ and to not intentionally facilitate sin. If someone trusts in Christ and has not been living consistently with their God-given sex, they are asked to join the group/ministry for their birth sex as a part of their spiritual growth process. We understand this is a process and will work with each individual for how to make that transition in a healthy way. This might be waiting for the next semester, a restart of a ministry, or other natural changes in ministry seasons. However, this process should be done under the guidance of both the pastors/elders and the ministry/group leader. This is to help anyone working through this transition to be encouraged to identify with their God-given birth sex in all areas of life. That does not mean they must fit every social stereotype of a particular sex/gender, but they should identify with their God-given sex and not deliberately imitate the opposite sex.
In situations involving sleeping, changing, showering environments; such as retreats, lock-ins, mission trips, etc. that may involve any degree of shared sleeping, changing, or showering space, individuals may not share those facilities with students of the opposite birth sex. Any accommodation that can be made to provide a single-use/room for such activities will be provided as a way in which we can continue to love and minister to anyone walking through this particular sex/gender identity healing process.
Bethany Church values the worth and dignity of all persons without distinction as created in God’s image.1 We affirm the priesthood of all beleivers2 and the responsibility of every Christian woman and man to take an active role in edifying the church.3 For that purpose, the Holy Spirit distributes ministry gifts to believers without distinction of any kind.4 That reality imposes the responsibility on every believer to fulfill ministry consistent with God’s grace.
Bethany Church distinguishes between ministry function and church office. While upholding the necessity of mutual respect and affirmation as those subject to the Word of God, 5 Bethany church understands that the biblical office of Elder/Pastor in the early church was gender specific.6 Therefore, we maintain that the church offices of Elder, Pastor, and Associate Pastor should be limited to the male gender.
- Genesis 1:26-27
- I Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6
- Romans 12:4-8; I Corinthians 14:12; Ephesians 4:11-13
- Ephesians 4:7-13; I Corinthians 12; I Peter 4:10-11
- Ephesians 5:17-21
- I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9
“In our celebration of The Lord’s Supper, our communion with Christ in whatever manner is by God’s grace and spiritual benefit can only come as we subjectively appropriate the meaning of this meal (that is, the gospel) through faith” (“Evangelical Convictions p 180). The Lord’s Supper shall be practiced regularly. It shall be open to all believers who profess saving faith in Jesus Christ and who are walking in fellowship with Him. This shall be practiced in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 11:23-30 and in line with the teachings of the Evangelical Free Church of America (“Evangelical Convictions” pp 176-181).
We deny that baptism in water is the instrumental cause of regeneration and that the grace of God is effectually conveyed through the administration of the ordinance itself. We affirm that one must come to personal faith in Christ to benefit from his saving work” (“Evangelical Convictions” p 175). We believe that baptism “is the biblically prescribed public action that corresponds to a personal response of faith to the gospel” (“Evangelical Convictions” p 171). Although baptism by immersion is not a requirement for membership in this church, nor salvation, believers’ baptism as an action following a personal commitment of faith in Christ by immersion shall be the mode practiced by this congregation. Exceptions may be considered by the Elder Board where extreme physical disability is apparent.