The Evangelical Free Church of America is a protestant church that dates back to the 17th century. Its liberal beliefs, international missions and personal relationships among congregations make this church one of the most community affiliated and yet closely knit churches in America. The Evangelical Free Church of America is an association of some 1250 churches united by a mutual commitment to serve our Lord Jesus Christ. They are committed to cooperate with one another in ministry and fellowship as they seek to fulfill the word of God. The growing ministry of the EFCA currently extends to some 40 nations of the world, now encompassing nearly 1400 additional congregations. The Evangelical Free Church of America was formed in 1950 by the merger of two church bodies: the Swedish Evangelical Free Church and the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Free Church Association.
Both of these groups were birthed in the revival movements of the late 19th century. John Gustaf f Princely was the first man to introduce this religion to the United States in 1893. Th Evangelical Free Church of America has twelve specific beliefs that govern and are applied to everyday life. They are: 1. The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men and the Divine and final authority for Christian faith and life. 2.
In one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect and eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 3. That Jesus Christ is true God and true man, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He died on the cross, a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures. Further, He arose boil from the dead, ascended into heaven, where, at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He is now our High Priest and Advocate. 4.
That the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and, during this age, to convict men, regenerate the believing sinner, and indwell, guide, instruct and empower the believer for godly living and service. 5. That man was created in the image of God but fell into sin and is, therefore, lost, and only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained. 6. That the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection provide the only ground for justification and salvation for all who believe, and only such as receive Jesus Christ are born of the Holy Spirit and, thus become children of God. 7.
That water baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances to be observed by the Church during the present age. They are, however, not to be regarded as means of salvation. 8. That the true Church is composed of all such persons who through saving faith in Jesus Christ have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are united together in the Body of Christ of which He is the Head. 9. That only those who are, thus, members of the true Church shall be eligible for membership in the local church.
10. That Jesus Christ is the Lord and Head of the Church and that every local church has the right, under Christ, to decide and govern its own affairs. 11. In the personal premillennial and imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and that this "Blessed Hope" has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer. 12. In the bodily resurrection of the dead; of the believer to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord; of the unbeliever to judgment and everlasting conscious punishment.
The Evangelical Free Church has no specific creed but each member have faith that all believers are destined for heaven. Evangelists do not believe in purgatory but do believe that any non-believers will be sentenced to judgement and everlasting punishment. One thing that interested me was that the Evangelists do not believe in divorce and if the sinner or guilty person continues to continue divorce procedures they will need to repent and take steps toward reconciliation. If the divorce was rendered on un biblical grounds, then they are commanded not to further sin by remarrying but if the divorce is biblical, the spouse is completely free from the marriage bond and is eligible for remarriage. Members of this church also highly dislike sex before marriage and adultery. They consider these acts to be immoral.
Evangelists deem that those who have broken the sacred bond of marriage and have participated in premarital sex should evidence genuine brokenness before God for their sin and pay a humble gratefulness and devotion to God for his forgiveness. Services at the Oakwood Community Church are held on Sunday at 8: 10 am and 10: 30 am. A typical service at this church is nothing like the masses that I have grown accustomed to. These services are non-liturgical celebrations of God. Each service is very musical and sometimes includes dramatic interpretations of God in everyday life. The singing and acting are usually followed by the pastors message, quiet reflection and closing prayers.
The church services go hand and hand with the churchs physical appearance, both are comfortable and serene and not at all superficial or elaborate. Upon entering the church I was surprised to find that there was no altar or main focal point. Also no pews, candles or crosses were found within the church walls. What I did find on the church walls were banners promoting faith in Christ which were tastefully accented by the churchs natural lighting. The Evangelical Free church members believe in the sacraments that are stated in the bible such as Baptism and the Lords Supper but they do not think that the sacraments are required for salvation.
Someone may become baptized at any point of their life if they wish to do so, but ordinarily they dedicate their children into the faith. This religion also stresses the sacraments as ordinances being observed not as being reenacted. The Evangelical Free church has no designated hierarchy but instead is an association of autonomous churches that are bound together through common beliefs. Each church does have a board of members who work closely with pastors as well as deacons. This board of elders decides who will become a member of the congregation but it is up to the people to decide on the pastors and deacons. The EFCA headquarters are located in Minneapolis, Minnesota to bring churches together, fund mission trips and hold nation wide conventions on behalf of the shared religious convictions.
The Evangelical Free Church of America has a strong involvement in the community. Not much is offered for the elderly, do to such a small congregation but future plans are in progress. The church does offer youth programs and support groups for adults. These support groups consist of meetings for addictions of any kind, parenting educational classes and enrichment classes. Each year the youth group goes to a 3rd world country as missionaries to spread the word of God and build Evangelical Free churches throughout the countries.
The church also has seasonal festivities to bring families closer together and stress the importance of family bonding. The unusual or interesting facts that I found where that the pastor did not give baptism with water, no crosses or candles where present in church because they dont want to be praying to symbols, drama is incorporated with church lighting, and musical instruments were all around the church. In conclusion, I found this church and its beliefs very refreshing in its practices and in the way they spread the word of God and re joyce in their practice of His word. Particularly traveling abroad to spread His Word in new countries, which undoubtedly will also strenght en the beliefs of the traveling members of the Ministry, by the many en lighting experiences they will encounter in their trips. It was also rewarding to realize that although many of their practices, ordinances and symbols, or lack of such, were drastically different, even contrasting to the Catholic beliefs, the basic values of family, marriage, faith and most importantly God and Jesus Christ as our savior still remain the main focus of every Protestant church, thus showing us that our faith can be expressed or interpreted slightly different by religions, but it ultimacy reaches the same harmonious results. Divorces and Remarriage.
Biblical Conviction of Pastor-Teacher Paul B. Phair. Phair, Paul B. Personal Interview. 8 March 2000. Small Small Small Small Groups. Oakwood Community Church.