Windsor Park United Church


A New Creed

“We are not alone, we live in God’s world.crest
We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others
by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the church:
to celebrate God’s presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.”

 History of “A New Creed”

- excerpts from The Genesis and Evolution of A New Creed
in the United Church of Canada by  WILLIAM HAUGHTON

In its brief history, The United Church of Canada has tried to articulate its theology in four official statements of faith: the Basis of Union (1925), the Statement of Faith (1940), A New Creed (1968) and A Song of Faith
(2006).   A noteworthy element of the most recent, A Song of Faith, is the deference it shows to just one of its predecessors: A New Creed. The Committee on Theology and Faith, which wrote A Song of Faith, claimed
that “This statement is not intended to be in any way a replacement of the beloved New Creed,” which, they added, that “[p]eople in the United Church love.”  Michael Bourgeois, chairperson, has said that the Committee
on Theology and Faith encountered many individuals while drafting A Song of Faith who “thought that ‘A New Creed’ so perfectly summarized the faith of the church that nothing else was necessary…”  Mardi Tindal, the fortieth… Moderator of the United Church’s General Council, once said of A New Creed, “It’s the one
thing I’ve made sure my children know. We say it as a grace at meals because I really want them to know it.” David Bruce wrote in 2008 that “the beautiful words of the much-loved ‘A New Creed’” are “the Christian
faith as talked about by people in The United Church of Canada.” Although A New Creed is widely esteemed in the United Church, its story is not well known.

The Story of A New Creed
Although A New Creed now reflects revisions approved by the General Council Executive in 1980 and 1995, its basic formulation was made in the mid-1960s in preparation for the 23rd General Council, 1968.
The impetus for the creation of a new creedal statement for the United Church, according to the Committee on Christian Faith, came in 1965. At the beginning of that year, the committee had designated a group of
individuals to approach the Presbyterian Church in Canada with a view to producing a joint statement of faith.  While this never materialized, a better and more important opportunity soon arrived. In May 1965, the
committee was studying a draft baptismal liturgy that had been proposed by the Committee on Church Worship and Ritual for inclusion in the upcoming Service Book. Uncomfortable with the suggested rubric “The
Apostles’ Creed shall be said by all,” committee members sought and gained permission from the General Council Sub-executive to write a “profession of faith, suitable for liturgical use, as a possible alternative to
the Apostles’ Creed…”

Beginning in October 1966, the group met monthly at Church House in Toronto to analyze a variety of modern confessions and to write one for the United Church. Despite tremendous effort and lengthy discussion, the
committee made no progress on writing a creed for several months, as there was complex debate and intense disagreement on virtually every issue before it – if and how to use and/or interpret the Apostles’ Creed,
what sort of confession was needed as well as what status a newly created text could or should have. Surviving committee members remember a “deep divide,” that “We fought a lot” and even that, months into the
process, “things seemed hopeless.”
A period of creativity and productivity was sparked, however, in October 1967 when Mac Freeman, of Victoria College, submitted a text that became the committee’s prototype:

I believe that
Man is not alone.
- God has created and is creating us.
- God has worked in history and is working to liberate us for true
humanity in community.
- God has come among us in the true man Jesus and comes among us
today in the Spirit of our risen Lord to deliver us from alienation from
God, our fellows and ourselves.
- God has called and is calling us into the company of Jesus with
whom we are chosen to be servants, by whom others are also set free.
Man is not alone.
- In life, in death, in life beyond death we are in the presence of God.
Believing that we are offered life and liberation from beyond our
human resources, I trust God and commit my existence to his
purpose.

For the next meeting, Richard Delorme, a minister from Valleyfield, Quebec, had been commissioned to revise Freeman’s creed in light of committee discussion and submitted an influential second draft:

We believe that:
Man is not alone; he lives in God’s world.
We believe in the God of this world and other worlds.
- In God Who has created and is creating us.
- In God Who has come among us in the True Man, Jesus.
- In God Who, in Jesus, reconciles us to himself and others.
- In God Who, by His Spirit, liberates us to serve.
We believe in this God.
Therefore:
Man is not alone; he lives in God’s world.
- In life, in death, in life beyond death, we are in his presence.
We believe in the God of this world and other worlds.
We commit our existence to Him.

This version introduced the trademark phrase, “Man is not alone; he lives in God’s world,” and signaled a lasting move towards a more poetic confession.
From that point onward, the committee spent its efforts essentially tinkering with what came to be known as the “Freeman-Delorme Creed.” In February 1968, for example, Toronto-based minister Gordon Nodwell
submitted a revision on behalf of a small group – including Alex Farquhar and Dorothy Wyman – which is strikingly like A New Creed as it first appeared in the Service Book:

Man is not alone; he lives in God’s world.
We believe in God:
Who has created and is creating,
Who has come in the True Man, Jesus,
Who works within us and among us by his Spirit.
We believe in Him.
He calls us into his Church, to love and serve our fellow men,
and to share in his kingdom.
In life, in death, in life beyond death, he is with us.
We are not alone; we believe in God.

Notably, this draft begins without “I/We believe.” Another lasting change was that “God has created and is creating” but not necessarily “us.” Despite the progress being made, the creed and its contents continued to be a source of fierce debate among committee members who differed on many issues of form, style, and theological content. Farquhar, for example, also offered a dissenting revision and spoke strongly against the phrase, “In life, in death, in life beyond death . . .” because he considered it “redundant.”  By the March meeting, however, former chairperson
Donald Mathers of Queen’s Theological College, told the committee that they had to finish the creed at the next meeting in April in order to present it to the 23rd General Council that summer.

The committee’s difficulty with the Apostles’ Creed also persisted. In March 1968, Dorothy Wyman presented a variety of possible rubrics for the ancient baptismal confession…  Before adjourning, the committee agreed on the text of a creed that would be presented to the twenty-third General Council. In light of final group discussion and a letter from Ralph Chalmers, of Pine Hill Divinity Hall, the committee revised and expanded reference to the
work of Christ:

Man is not alone; he lives in God’s world.
We believe in God:
Who has created and is creating,
Who has come in the true Man, Jesus, to reconcile and renew,
Who works within us and among us by his Spirit.
We trust him.
He calls us to be his Church:
To celebrate his presence,
To love and serve others,
To seek justice and resist evil.
We proclaim his kingdom.
In life, in death, in life beyond death, He is with us.
We are not alone; we believe in God.

A New Creed was presented to the 23rd General Council, meeting at Sydenham Street United Church in Kingston, Ontario. On the morning of August 29th, Donald Mathers presented the committee’s report and then
Hugh Rose spoke to the report. Rose recalled: I remember being suitably intimidated standing before council and
even more so when Ernie Howse, former moderator and minister of Bloor Street, and George Johnston, prof of New Testament at Emmanuel, neither of whom had the reputation of being conservatives, poured scorn on a creed that didn’t begin with I believe and then went on to dare to pretend to keep company with the “Historic Statements of the Church Catholic.”  For some time, the proposed creed was discussed on the floor and possible revisions were bandied about. Ralph Chalmers, a corresponding member of the committee for Maritime Conference finally
Moved that the new Creed be referred back to the Committee on Christian Faith with the request that it be re-drafted in a manner that will give more adequate expression of the Christian Gospel for our time, and that the Committee report to the Executive of General Council which shall have power to issue.
Approving the motion, the General Council sent the creed back for further revision.

In late September, the committee reconvened and made the creed an “immediate priority.” For it to appear in the Service Book, changes would have to be made quickly. Hugh Rose reported his experience in Kingston, saying that, “[t]here appeared to be no opposition to the effort to write creeds, but considerable concern as to the form and content of the Creed.”

Correspondence was read highlighting the view that the creed featured “inadequate Christology” and that it “lacked depth.” Ralph Chalmers, in particular, sent a list of ten detailed criticisms, including: The New Creed is very weak in Christology. Jesus is only “true Man.” Could not a Hindu say this of Gandhi, or a Buddhist of Buddha? We are Christians and this would appear to make it necessary to use the title Christ. Further, since the earliest confession
was about Jesus being LORD, and the Church’s reference to Him as Saviour, should not these terms or titles also be used? Since Christology is the very heart of any Christian Creed it would seem that we require at least a second line in it to sum up Christ’s Incarnation, His ministry and teachings, death and resurrection, ascension and parousia (visit/return). After discussion, minutes note the “lack of any reference to historic events of crucifixion and resurrection was recognized.” Rose, now chairperson, asked the others to send suggestions for distribution at the next meeting. When the committee met on 21 October 1968, it was made clear that they would have to finish the creed that day for it to be approved by the General Council Executive and included in the Service Book. The
University of Toronto’s Donald Evans had prepared a thorough commentary on each line of the creed, based on the committee’s September discussion as well as feedback from prominent Canadian Catholic theologian Gregory Baum.  The trademark opening line should remain unchanged for, as Evans’ noted, “[t]here was again general agreement within the committee, that the creed should start with man; the agreement was supported by Gregory Baum’s article.” Another suggestion was to acknowledge God’s presence outside the church – “who works within men and among men by his Spirit.” Most significant was his expansion of the phrase “We proclaim his kingdom” to include “to proclaim the risen Jesus, our judge and our hope.” Reference to “the risen Jesus,” he argued, “is more explicit in expressing the conviction that Jesus is alive.” “Our judge and our hope,” finally, introduced the elements of divine judgment and of eschatological hope. Evans also noted that “My proposal leaves open the possibility of various interpretations of the resurrection” and “is open to various interpretations as to the way in which the risen Jesus is our hope.”

Having added further a reference to Jesus’ crucifixion and the closing “Thanks be to God,” the committee sent its final text to the General Council Executive:

Man is not alone, he lives in God’s world.*
We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in the true Man, Jesus, to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others by his Spirit.
We trust him.
He calls us to be his church:
to celebrate his presence,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.**
* This line may be used as a versicle, with the rest as a response.
** This line is still under consideration as a possible addition.

On November 5th, Hugh Rose presented the revised text to the Executive, which approved it for use in congregations and for publication in the Service Book.

A decade later, A New Creed was formally revised to reflect principles of inclusive language. In March 1977, it was reported to the General Council Executive that the Committee on Christian Faith had become too large, met too infrequently and was paralyzed by theological diversity. In its place was created the Committee on Theology and Faith, consisting of twelve people and based in Toronto. One of its first tasks was to examine A New Creed. In late 1979, it suggested to the General Council Executive that the first line be changed to read, “We are not alone, we live in God’s world.’” The Executive then asked the committee “That the [whole] Creed be revised to make it inclusive in its language.” A year later, a new version was presented and approved:

We are not alone, we live in God’s world.
We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others
by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the church:
to celebrate God’s presence,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.

One further change has since been made. In 1994, the Toronto Conference petitioned the thirty-fifth General Council to revise A New Creed in light of growing environmental concerns, citing “a need for our confessional
language to reflect this awareness.”  In 1995, the Theology and Faith Committee proposed the phrase “to live with respect in creation” and the General Council Executive approved its insertion immediately following
“We are called to be the Church: / to celebrate God’s presence.”

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