The more you get to know us, the more you will discover that short summaries are not our specialty! We are a pretty nuanced bunch. If you only have time for the quick version, it’s best found by looking at our Mission and Core Values. If you are down for the more detailed, technical answer, here goes…

PCUSA Logo (Rainbow Colors)What It Means to be Presbyterian…

Canvas is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church USA – a Protestant denomination born in Scotland in the 1560s with deep roots in the Reformed tradition (emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of scripture and the importance of interpreting it with intellectual rigor and, most importantly, that love and grace form the heart of Jesus’s teaching).

Theologically, Presbyterians share much in common with other historic denominations and are committed to the creeds of the early church, most especially the Nicene Creed. The nuanced particulars can be found in the PCUSA’s Book Confessions which serves as “authoritative guidance as to what the Bible leads us to believe and do.” (Many of these confessional documents were written centuries ago and include some language we might alter in the 21st century, but we subscribe to the essential ideas they seek to communicate and to which many other denominations would share.)

But what technically defines a Presbyterian church is our form of government. Presbyterian congregations exist in formal community with one another and are governed at every level by teams of leaders (lit. “elders”) selected by the community. There are no bishops, no popes, no individual leader at any point. Everything is meant to be led by God and discerned those prayerful bodies appointed to work as a team.

Additionally, Presbyterian pastors are required to possess advanced degrees in theology, church history and biblical studies as well as years of supervised training and examination to ensure that the scriptures are well taught and congregations led with love and wisdom.

What to Know about Canvas…

At the heart of Canvas is the deep conviction that love is the name of the game. That is to say, we believe that the Bible, rightly interpreted, tells the story of the God who is love, and who is – in Christ – lovingly at work to set a fallen world back to rights, now and in the age to come. As we have pledged our allegiance to Jesus as Lord, we are now called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to join in this work of new creation, including the establishment of peace, justice, compassion and healing for all, as we ourselves strive for maturity in faith, hope and love.

We do this work of embodying the love of God as individuals, of course, but we are most reflective of the Kingdom of God when we act as the collective body of Christ – the church. It is the essential ministry of the church to teach the content of the faith, to provide for meaningful worship, to nurture souls, to provide for those in need, and to extend loving welcome to all who seek to know God.

And part of what makes Canvas unique is our awareness that the church has not always lived up to such a vocation. Indeed, for many, the experience of the church has been more a hindrance than a help to those who wish to grow in faith. The church has not always regarded questions and doubts as essential to maturity in faith, nor has intellectual integrity been required. Transparency is not always the norm. And often more energy is spent debating who is or is not sufficiently righteous, or who needs to undergo a radical change in culture or identity to truly be included among the saints. We firmly believe that such experiences are utterly contrary to God’s intent for the church, and Canvas is dedicated to the welcome of all and the full inclusion of all those who confess Jesus as Lord. Indeed, our Statement of Inclusivity reads:

Canvas Presbyterian Church embraces diversity and affirms the dignity and worth of every person as a beloved child of God.

We welcome into full membership and participation in our community persons of every race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual
orientation, physical or mental ability and socio-economic status.

We welcome all to share in the life, leadership, ministry, fellowship, worship, sacraments, and blessings of participation in our congregation.

Canvas is thus a very open and affirming congregation and an intentional safe space for those in the LGBTQ+ community and all those who have felt marginalized by the church or in our society. (We are also a Matthew 25 community as well!)

Hopefully all this provides at least a broad sense of who we are and how we think and act. And it has surely prompted another question or ten, so please feel highly encouraged to ask (at Canvas, questions are highly valued!): mail@canvasoc.org

Indeed, we regularly host some “beer and theology” nights known as “Jesus at 7PM” where we hang out and ponder ideas together. Maybe join us for one of those…!