Bethlehem is a Hebrew word meaning "house of bread". It speaks to both the identity and mission of Bethlehem Church. Our little patch of "heaven on earth" is located on beautiful, rolling farmland in western Orange County, North Carolina. Until recently, most of our members worked the soil. There is still a strong connection to the land and the bounty it provides. In addition to giving thanks for our daily bread, we remember in the breaking of bread that our God loves us so much. God's costly grace is made manifest in Christ and his cross- humbles us before the throne of heaven.
"House of Bread" also describes our sense of worship and discipleship as we share in the soul-feast of God's gracious mercy toward us. Thru our fellowship, we care for friends and welcome strangers. We seek to walk with the Lord in everything we say and do- all the time giving thanks to God from whom all our blessings flow.
Our servant leaders include a group of individuals called from the congregation to serve as members of the Session, our highest governing body. Presently, the Session includes the following six church members:
Ed Cockrell, Jane Honeycutt, Sarah Gibson, Carol Quakenbush, Lesley Stanford, Jo Webb
Scott Lawson serves as part-time pastor. Scott served for 8 years as CEO of a Hong Kong based non-profit foundation investing in non-profit and for-profit social purpose organizations. Since returning to the U.S. in 2016 he has taught Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Future Generations University (primarily to students in E. Africa and SE Asia) and consults with innovative non-profit organizations thru new world consulting.
Scott was ordained in 1994 as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in Presbyterian Church (USA). Scott's wife, Marybeth, is also ordained and serves as the Pastor of Springwood Presbyterian Church in Whitsett, NC. Their daughter, Grace, is a senior at Cornell University studying fashion/textile design and fiber science.
What we believe
At the core of Presbyterian identity is a secure hope in the grace of God in Jesus Christ, a hope that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, empowers us to lives lives of gratitude: “In affirming with the earliest Christians that Jesus is Lord, the Church confesses that he is its hope, and that the Church, as Christ’s body, is bound to his authority and thus free to live in the lively, joyous reality of the grace of God.” (Book of Order F-1.0204) We place a strong emphasis on the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
The name Presbyterian comes from the Greek word in the New Testament for "elder", presbuteros, meaning "one who holds a position of authority". This references our form of government where authority within a congregation is vested amongst leaders chosen from within.
The Presbyterian form of government deeply influenced the Founding Fathers of our country. At one point during the Revolutionary War, King George III was said to have lamented the "Presbyterian insurrection" in America because the new government was based on Presbyterian principles of shared authority.
Presbyterians share the essential beliefs of most mainstream Christian traditions or denominations. There are two primary distinctives within our tradition. We adhere to a pattern of religious thought known as Reformed theology and a form of government that stresses the active, representational leadership of both ministers and church members.
What are human beings created to do? Reformed theology says that human beings are to “know God and enjoy [God] forever.” Theology is a way of thinking about God and God’s relation to the world. Reformed theology evolved during the 16th century religious movement known as the Protestant Reformation.
In its confessions, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) expresses the faith of the Reformed tradition. Central to this tradition is the affirmation of the majesty, holiness and providence of God who creates, sustains, rules and redeems the world in the freedom of sovereign righteousness and love. Related to this central affirmation of God’s sovereignty are other great themes of the Reformed tradition:
• The election of the people of God for service as well as for salvation.
• Covenant life marked by a disciplined concern for order in the church according to the Word of God.
• A faithful stewardship that shuns ostentation and seeks proper use of the gifts of God’s creation.
• The recognition of the human tendency to idolatry and tyranny, which calls the people of God to work for the transformation of society by seeking justice and living in obedience to the Word of God.
Offering. “The Christian life is an offering of one’s self to God. In worship the people are presented with the costly self-offering of Jesus Christ, are claimed and set free by him, and are led to respond by offering to him their lives, their particular gifts and abilities, and their material goods. Worship should always offer opportunities to respond to Christ’s call to become disciples by professing faith, by uniting with the church, and by taking up the mission of the people of God, as well as opportunities for disciples to renew the commitment of their lives to Jesus Christ and his mission in the world” (Book of Order, W-2.5001 – W-2.50).
Community concerns. “Worship is an activity of the common life of the people of God in which the care of the members for each other and for the quality of their life and ministry together expresses the reality of God’s power to create and sustain community in the midst of a sinful world. As God is concerned for the events in daily life, so members of the community in worship appropriately express concern for one another and for their ministry in the world” (Book of Order, W-2.6001).
Among these are the sovereignty of God, the authority of the scripture, justification by grace through faith and the priesthood of all believers. What they mean is that God is the supreme authority throughout the universe. Our knowledge of God and God’s purpose for humanity comes from the Bible, particularly what is revealed in the New Testament through the life of Jesus Christ. Our salvation (justification) through Jesus is God’s generous gift to us and not the result of our own accomplishments. It is everyone’s job — ministers and lay people alike — to share this Good News with the whole world. That is also why the Presbyterian church is governed at all levels by a combination of clergy and laity, men and women alike.
Points of interest
Presbyterians confess their beliefs through statements that have been adopted over the years and are contained in The Book of Confessions. These statements reflect our understanding of God and what God expects of us at different times in history, but all are faithful to the fundamental beliefs described above. Even though we share these common beliefs, Presbyterians understand that God alone is lord of the conscience, and it is up to each individual to understand what these principles mean in his or her life.