Christianity is a world-wide faith of people who follow Jesus Christ.
Its millions of members express their beliefs through a wide variety of “denominations” and styles of worship. But they all follow Jesus of Nazareth who was born about 2000 years ago in the region that is now called Israel. Christians believe he is the Son of God.
Jesus started travelling around the region when he was about 30, and attracted a sizeable following with his preaching and miracles. The faith based on his life and teaching is a faith of love, peace, forgiveness and truth.
He took the Old Testament commandments of God, written down by Moses and followed by the Jews then and now, and interpreted them very simply in two basic commandments:
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF
About three years after he started preaching, he was arrested and executed by the Roman authorities who controlled the region at the time. Christians believe that, on the third day, he came back to life and, after spending some time with his followers, went back to join God, his Father.
Those facts hide a lot of detail – and Christians have worked hard to understand their meaning in the 20 centuries since.
Nobody pretends we are perfect. But we believe that God gave us our lives and faith – and we try to respond with our love and worship and service.
We believe in expressing that love through action and Christians have played a central role in confronting injustice through history.
In recent times Christian thinking inspired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which helped bring the warring factions of South Africa together in a new democracy. Churches were also behind the Jubilee 2000 campaign to cancel the debt of the world’s poorest countries.
People sometimes ask particular questions about the way in which we practise the Christian faith including those below:
Q:Do you believe in the ordination of women?
A: St Mary’s included a lot of people who worked towards the ordination of women and we now have a mixed clergy team of women and men. The aim is to treat men and women alike.
Q: What about gay clergy?
A: Well, what about them? Our clergy team includes straight and gay members.
Q: Do you believe in blessing gay couples?
A: Clergy in the Scottish Episcopal Church are able to give a blessing to couples entering a Civil Partnership as part of the pastoral care that the church offers to everyone. Speak to a member of the clergy for further details.
Q: Are you a biblical church?
A: Yes, we are fascinated by the bible and read it a lot.
Q: Do you believe in the Creeds?
A: Yes, we use the Nicene Creed during communion services on a Sunday. We say it in its traditional form at the early service and in a modern language translation at 1030. In common with the practise of the Scottish Episcopal Church we use a form which omits the filioque clause in modern language liturgies. We use the Apostles’ Creed at baptisms and during Evensong.