Congregations have personalities, just like people do. They have history and habits, sins and virtues, theology and practice. When a church has over 250 years under its belt, you can bet it has a resilient spirit and some stories to tell. So it is for Catoctin Presbyterian Church. Please explore a little bit of who we are in these pages.
What We Believe
Here’s a link to see what the Presbyterian Church (USA) believes. And here’s a little bit about our congregation’s theology. Individuals will differ on various points, but most of us probably agree on most of this.
- God is sovereign and all-loving. Some people think these are contradictory. Not sure why.
- Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Lord and Savior. He shows us God’s nature, which is love, and our potential as the children of God.
- Being a human is a complicated thing, but briefly, we are:
- created in God’s Image,
- fallen in sin,
- redeemed by Jesus Christ,
- both sinners and justified in God’s sight at the same time.
- The Holy Spirit works in our lives to correct us, empower us, and lead us in what God is doing in us and in the world.
- The Bible is the inspired Word of God. You need to look at the whole thing to understand the smaller parts.
- Since Christ was raised from the dead, and we are united with him by faith, we will also be raised in the Last Day. So while death is generally unwelcome, we do not fear.
- There is one Church in the world, and Christ is its head. The many denominations and congregations, at their best, provide different ways for people to express their faith and for Christ to reach the more. At their worst, they are failing to listen to their Lord and Head, which doesn’t end well.
- If you walk into our church, you’re as good as family.
- Social issues are hard. Political issues are hard. Christian life, when taken seriously, is hard. Sometimes we do pretty well with all of them, and sometimes we can’t even.
- Life is better when you have people who are in your corner to check in on you and support you. That’s part of what the Church is for.
- Food is good. Music is good. Art is good. Or at least, they all can be. They have an important place in the life of the Church.
- God provides the resources for the work that God wants done. That includes money and people. Sometimes the money is in your bank account, and sometimes the person is you. So consider it carefully and prayerfully.
- Worship should take as long as is needed; and worship should only take an hour, no more. We’re still of two minds on this one.
Our Vision and Mission Statements
We are always trying to discern what God in Christ is calling us to do and be. Sometimes we write it down.
Our Vision Statement
It’s amazing how hard it can be to come up with a simple statement of who you are and who you want to be. After a very long period of wrestling with it, we found the root of this statement in our denomination’s constitution, and it fit. I mean, you would hope it would, right? Well, it did, and this is now our vision statement:
Catoctin Presbyterian Church is a community growing in faith, hope, love, and witness to Jesus Christ.
Our Mission Statement
We actually came up with this mission statement several years before our vision statement. I know, I know, that’s backwards. Well, we thought we were going to be replacing this mission statement, but what we found was bigger and worked more as a vision statement (above). So that’s what we hope to be and become, and this is how we expect to do it. Yes, it’s a Q&A mission statement. Presbyterians like catechisms, okay?
What is the mission of Catoctin Presbyterian Church? To lead people into deeper Christian discipleship.
What is a disciple? A disciple is someone devoted to discovering Christ, belonging to Christ, and serving with Christ.
How does someone become a disciple? A person becomes a disciple through ongoing Bible study, Christian fellowship, worship, ministry, and mission.
Catoctin Presbyterian Church will provide opportunities and encouragement to move people on this path.
You can read more about this journey of discipleship here.
The Catoctin congregation has called six buildings home that we know of since 1764. This page tells a little bit about the journey.
Meet the pastor, staff, and elders on the session. They’re pretty cool folks.
Some Traditions and Some Stuff We Like to Do
They say that in a church if you do a thing three times it becomes a tradition. After two and a half centuries we’ve had plenty of traditions come and go. Here are a few that are currently in play.
- We extend a hand of blessing at the end of the service, either taking someone’s hand or putting a hand on someone’s shoulder, when we receive the benediction. It helps bind us together.
- We keep flowers and decorations simple in the sanctuary, because they should direct our attention to God, not grab our attention.
- We like to eat with each other after the service, so we have a fellowship time. Sometimes it’s light snacks, sometimes you can make a meal out of it. The point is to share hospitality and enjoy each other’s company for a while.
- We share Easter morning with our neighbors from Waterford Baptist Church with a sunrise service and breakfast. We take turns hosting. It reminds us we are part of something larger than ourselves.
- We have a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. I know, everyone does that, but so do we. Robert, whose family were charter members in the 1760’s, lights the candles, so that’s cool.
- We make apple butter every year and sell it at the Waterford Fair in October, stirring the stuff for 8 hours in big copper kettles. It’s a great fund raiser, and it’s the best apple butter you will ever eat, no lie.