We attempt to order our community around the essentials of being a
follower of Christ. We seek to be defined by nothing other than the things that
were central to the life and teachings of Jesus. We strive for simplicity and
transparency in our beliefs, organization, programming, finances and facilities.
We believe that God is Love (1 John 4:8). We believe that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6). We believe that all things are ordered under our
call to Love our God and our Neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-38; Mark 12:29-31;
Luke 10:26-28) We seek to make our words, actions, worship and shared lives initiated by
and bathed in love above all things. If we have not love we have nothing (1 Corinthians 13).
We believe we are here to participate in the mission of God. We accept the priesthood of all believers and believe that all are called to ministry of this mission. We believe the mission gives birth to the church and not the other way around. We believe we are called to help bring about the Kingdom of God here on earth as it is in Heaven. We believe that Jesus embodied God's kingdom characterized by love, grace, peace, justice, personal salvation and the restitution of all creation. We will attempt to take part only in activities that in some way bring these things to earth.
We believe in the incarnation and that the God of the universe became flesh and blood
and “moved into the neighborhood.” We believe that we also should follow the model
of the incarnation which proactively and humbly engages in community with those
who need it. We will serve those we love, just as Christ has done for us.
We at Ekklesia Hattiesburg have attempted to order our communal life around a few simple practices that we see as integral to our collective life as followers and imitators of Christ. Here are some short explanations for these practices.
We gather each week for teaching, communion and fellowship in part because these
types of gatherings have always been a part of the Christian community (Acts 2). Although
this is often called “church,” we believe that this necessary and important meeting is only a small
part of what it means for us to be the “called out ones” (Ekklesia/Church) in our world. Our meeting time together includes some liturgical practices. We believe that liturgy is a welcome interruption
in our culture to refocus us on God who gives us new rhythms, new holy days and a new story.
Each week our public meeting ends in the climactic act of Communion. We do this for many reasons. First, we gather for the Lord’s Supper because it has been a central part of gathered Christian community from the very beginning (Acts 2:42). Through the act of taking communion we also:
CONGREGATE at the communion table in order to honor
all of the deepest mysteries of our collective faith in Christ
CELEBRATE the incarnation of Christ, in which the creator of the universe
took on flesh and blood and came to earth to show God’s love for each of us
REMEMBER in the breaking of the bread the sacrifice of Christ who gave his life on
our behalf that we might enjoy forgiveness of sins and the abundant life of God and
PROCLAIM in communion the resurrection of Christ’s body and the
ultimate conquering of death it represents for all who follow Him.
Each week during the Lord’s Supper we celebrate all of these mysteries and more
as one body before the Christ we follow together. All are welcome to the table.
We believe that at the core of our communal worship is serving together.
The essence of Christian love is the laying down of our lives for the sake of those around
us, particularly those who are on the outskirts of our society (John 15:13, Matthew 25).
We have committed to standing with each other in the act of washing the feet of the community
around us. Serving in the community is not a program some of us participate in, rather it is at
the heart of what it means for us to gather as the body of Christ. When we sacrifice for
those around us we truly worship the God who did the same for us (Romans 12:1-2).
We do not have a membership roll at Ekklesia, so we do not require Baptism or any particular
mode of baptism in order to be a part of the community. We do, however, strongly encourage
our brothers and sisters who have not been baptized to consider it for many important reasons.
Baptism is the ancient practice of publicly identifying oneself with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is a public act that represents a covenantal relationship between the participant and Christ, not unlike a marriage ceremony. We believe that Baptism is an important act of our mission in the world, given to us by Christ (Matthew 28:19). We believe it is a symbolic act of the deeper truths of salvation through Christ, but is not the means by which one finds salvation. We believe baptism to be the public symbolic act of dying to powers of this world and being born again into the life of Christ.
Child dedications at Ekklesia Hattiesburg are a means of celebrating the gift of life that comes with
our newest brothers/sisters as well as a chance for us as a community to publicly commit to the lifelong participation in the holistic (spiritual, physical, emotional) development of our children. We do not believe that this dedication secures a salvation relationship with Christ, which each person is eventually responsible for personally. It is merely a sign of our commitment to love and serve that child as Christ loved and served us. Email us if you'd like to participate in the next child dedication.