What kind of a church is Stonebridge?
We are an Evangelical, Reformed, Presbyterian congregation that is committed to living out and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ here in Perrysburg and metropolitan Toledo. Stonebridge Church was founded in 1996 and belongs to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).
We are one of a few Reformed churches in the Toledo area. We gladly submit ourselves to the authority of Scripture and exalt God’s sovereignty and gracious covenants in all of life.We believe that faith in Christ alone is necessary for salvation and that God is the One who works that faith in us.
We believe that the Christian life is not about having it all together, nor is it about doing whatever we feel like doing. The Scriptures say,
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:11–14).
A short summary of what we believe can be found here.
Who is Stonebridge?
Stonebridge could be described through her core values. The core values of our church can be summarized in four words: 1) Gospel, 2) Church, 3) Worship, and 4) Mission. These four values help us shape how we make decisions and what we do.
The Gospel is at the heart of who we are and what we are to be as God’s people. We acknowledge there to be but one truth set forth in the Holy Scriptures contained in the Old and New Testaments. The Gospel is the proclamation that God has sent a Savior for man to redeem him from his sins and to give him eternal life, not for his works but for faith in the work of Jesus Christ. This Christ is the promised King of the Old Testament, and following His death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus has ascended to His throne in heaven and inaugurated the kingdom of God. One day Christ will come again and will consummate His kingdom.
Because of this glorious news, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the center of all we do. This gospel of Jesus is our hope and strength and the solution to man’s problems.
The Covenant Family, the Body of Christ, and the Fellowship of the Spirit
When God saves people through His gospel, He brings them together as a Covenant Family of adopted sons and daughters of God the Father, as the Body of Jesus Christ, and as the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The ministry of the local church is God’s means for bringing the good news of the gospel to the sinful world. We are united not be mere voluntary association but by God’s covenant promises realized in Christ. We are united not as many unconnected individuals but as one, joined together in our mystical union to Christ as His spiritual body and He as our spiritual head. We are united not as a social club but as a fellowship brought about by the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit Who brings forth God’s love and spiritual gifts for the benefit, encouragement, equipping, and upbuilding of God’s people.
This union in the Church is thus to be expressed in the local congregation and in the families of all believers. We are to be covenant families in covenant community so that:
[our] hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2–3).
People were created to worship and Christians have been saved from their sins that they would worship their Creator and Redeemer, the Triune and sovereign God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While we could describe all of life as worship since we are to glorify God in all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31), yet the chief call of God upon our lives is to set aside Sunday as the Christian sabbath, the Lord’s Day, that we would worship God as a corporate body. Those who have been saved by Christ desire to worship Him; it is the proper response of a heart filled with thanksgiving. We gather together as the covenant people of God, the body of Christ, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, that we together hear the glories of the Gospel and uplift one another with the truths of the Gospel until our Lord comes again.
As we gather we partake of the means, or instruments, of grace: reading God’s Word; singing God’s Word; praying God’s Word’ joining in loving fellowship according to God’s Word; listening to God’s Word preached, and seeing and tasting God’s Word made visible in the sacraments. God has given these means of grace, as well as others, to be used by His people. We are to use them when we worship God, and as we do so, God uses them to give us grace. As we worship God according to His prescribed way of worship, God works in us, shaping us by His grace, that we would be more and more transformed into the glorious and holy image of Jesus Christ.
With the glorious news that man can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ by His grace through faith, how could we ever contain such good news to ourselves? We believe all people redeemed by the Gospel, joined together in the Church, gathering together for worship, are to go into their families, neighborhoods, workplaces, and beyond to share the good news of Jesus Christ, that Christ would receive the glory due His name for His great work of redemption and that more people may be gathered together to join us as the Church, gathered together in worship, to exalt the God of the Gospel.
If you desire to become a member of Stonebridge Church, you may inform the pastor or one of the elders of your desire to join. We will arrange for an Inquirers Class. The class will meet with the pastor and he will teach you five things: what it means to be Presbyterian; a survey of church history; what the Church is; what it means to be Evangelical; and what it means to be Reformed.
After the class the elders will interview those interested in joining. At that meeting, you will be asked to share:
- how you came to faith in Jesus,
- how you’ve seen God at work in your life since coming to know Him,
- how you would like to serve the Lord alongside of the rest of the congregation,
- and how the officers and members can serve and encourage you.
After meeting with the elders, a day will be scheduled for you to take public membership vows during the worship service. At that time, you will be formally received into the congregation.
Growing and Serving
Learning about our Christian faith has always been a priority for us. The chief way we learn about our God is through corporate worship, but we also believe corporate gatherings for prayer, Bible study, and fellowship are vital for the Church’s ministry. We have a weekly prayer meeting that meets on Fridays where we pray for the many needs of our church, our families, our country, and our world. We have a men’s Bible study and a women’s Bible study, both of which meet on Thursdays at 7 PM.
Local Evangelism and Service
We desire to show the love of Christ to our community through outreach and service. All Christians have been saved from a life of depravity and sin and are called to a perpetual duty of thanksgiving and praise of God, and this requires witnessing to His glory in all of life that others may repent and follow Jesus.
Please contact the church if you need assistance. We would love to help you find resources and to know God and His love for us in Jesus more.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20).
From her founding Stonebridge has desired to support world missions. While it is important for us to reach out to our neighbors, coworkers, families, and friends, yet our desire is Paul’s:
thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written,
“Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand” (Romans 15:20–21).
Therefore, men must be raised up, trained, and ordained to the ministry and sent to the remotest parts of the world that the Gospel may be preached. In addition to these ministers, other men and women must go.
For those who do not go, we are called to give of our time and money to send others.
Our missions strategy as a local church is to support a few missionaries well. We support work on five continents in addition to North America. We support individuals, couples, families. Our missionaries work in religious as well as secular settings. We support efforts to evangelize, to train nationals, and to build church families.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can read about the EPC’s stances on particular issues of our day in their Position Papers.
What does it mean to be Evangelical?
The basics of being Evangelical are summed up in the Five Solas, which teach that we are saved by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone, according to the Scriptures alone, to the glory of God alone. To be evangelical means that through Jesus Christ the kingdom of God has been inaugurated, freeing people from the guilt and power of sin through the forgiveness of sin given by the Father, purchased by Christ, and applied by the Spirit, received through personal faith and repentance and expressed through membership in the visible church and a God-glorifying and pious life.
The Reformed faith desires to be as biblical as possible in worldview, faith, and practice—to be as consistent with the Bible as possible. The Reformed faith has its roots in the Apostle Paul, the Patristic era, and in the teachings of St. Augustine. The Reformed faith was articulated during the Protestant Reformation from roughly 1517–1650 by men like Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger, John Calvin, John Knox, Theodore Beza, William Perkins, and Francis Turretin. Being Reformed means that we emphasize and teach particular doctrines, or teachings. These are:
- God’s glory as the purpose of all creation and God’s work of redemption
- God’s sovereignty over all things
- The utmost importance of biblically derived worship
- The understanding of God’s relationship with man and promises to man through covenants, also called Covenant Theology
- The continuing importance and benefit of Church history and creeds and confessions
- The teaching of the Doctrines of Grace (or TULIP, or Calvinism)
In summary, at the end of the day our goal isn’t “to be Reformed,” but to be Biblical. We want to be faithful to our Lord with everything in us—heart, mind, soul, and strength. For more information, see also R.C. Sproul’s online video series, “What is Reformed Theology?“
To be presbyterian is to believe that the Church is “a body of congregations connected to one another by a plurality of elected representative officers.”1
Churches have a form of government called polity. The Presbyterian polity is named after the Greek word presbuteros, which means “elder” or “old man”. Presbyterians are governed by elders. Most Presbyterians have three offices: minister, elder (or ruling elder), and deacon. Officers are chosen by the congregation and confirmed by other officers. The minister(s) and elder(s)—together called the Session—are the pastors of a Presbyterian church. The Session represents the congregation and has authority over the congregation. The Session oversees the affairs of the congregation, prays and provides biblical teaching and pastoral care for the members through the ministry of the Word. Deacons are ordained for a ministry of mercy, service, and compassion in the physical care of the members.
Presbyterian churches are connectional. While our church is the local body of believers, our church is also all the other churches in our region and in our denomination. We are united and have mutual responsibility for one another and work together for ministry, missions, fellowship, care, and accountability. All the Sessions (or churches) in particular region are called a Presbytery. The Presbytery is responsible for overseeing the churches in her region, for starting new churches and ordaining new pastors, and more. Stonebridge belongs to the Midwest Presbytery of the EPC. All the Presbyteries together are called the General Assembly (GA). The GA oversees the Presbyteries, sends missionaries, assists church planting, and provides various other benefits and functions.
We believe Presbyterianism is clearly found in Scripture and was practiced by the early church.
Why do the elders serve the elements when the church celebrates the Lord’s Supper?
Rather than the people approaching the table, our elders serve the bread and the cup as a symbol of God’s grace to us. God serves us at the table.
In our understanding of the proper governance of the Church, we believe that the Lord governs His Church through a plurality of elders. He also shepherds, teaches, and leads His people in this same way. As a result, when we come to celebrate the sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper), it is not the pastor who administers them of his own authority, but rather the minister acts as a representative of the session as a whole who in turn represent the mind Christ to His people. Also, all elders—both “ruling” and “teaching”—share the same office of “presbyter,” a Greek word meaning “elder.” Presbyters exercise their authority jointly. Thus, the elders act together to serve the Lord’s Supper to His people.
The reason the pastor does not serve himself is because all of us come to the Lord’s Table in the same manner—as beggars who have found the Bread of Life. The minister must be served just as he serves, for the only One who serves Himself at the Lord’s Table is the Lord Jesus Himself.
Why is the pulpit in the center of the chancel (i.e., “the stage”)?
Prior to the Reformation, the altar was at the center of the chancel. This emphasized the sacrifice of the mass was the heart of the service. But in a Reformed church the pulpit is at the center of the chancel to remind us that the very center of all of Christian worship is the Word of God. The centerpiece and high point of Reformed worship is the reading and the preaching of the Word of God.
Why do you say in the creeds, “One holy catholic Church”?
Many Protestant churches have decided to replace the original wording (“catholic”) with some other wording (e.g., “one holy Christian church”), but these alterations change the meaning of the creeds. The word “catholic” is a Latin word which means “universal.” After the Protestant Reformation the part of the church that did not reform but which remained loyal to the Pope in Rome claimed to be the only true Church by adopting the name “Roman Catholic Church” and condemning all those who did not belong to her institutions. However, Protestants assert the unity of the Church is found not in her institutions but in her doctrine. We cannot be united with the Apostles if we do not teach what they taught; if we do not teach what they did, we are guilty of preaching a false gospel, as Paul says in Galatians 1:8–10. Every church that can affirm the “ecumenical creeds” (e.g., the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Chalcedonian Creed, etc.), and which is united through faith in Christ upon the teaching of the apostles, are therefore indwelt by the Holy Spirit and joined to the one, holy, universal, and apostolic Church. Christians do not need to be in communion with the Pope for salvation but with Jesus Christ. We affirm the faith once delivered to all the saints by the Apostles; preserved by the Holy Spirit in the Holy Scriptures; and articulated in the creeds and confessions of the Church which have been used by Christians for no less than 1800 years.
Do you observe a church or liturgical calendar?
We don’t believe Christians must hold to the Church calendar for salvation but may benefit by doing so. In this spirit we observe the Evangelical Feast Days and events as long as they help us to meditate and reflect upon our salvation in Christ and our sanctification by the Holy Spirit.
- Advent:The four weeks before Christmas in which we remember the Old Testament promises of the coming of Christ & the story of the Nativity. Each week we have a different reading, light a candle in the Advent Wreath, and sing Christmas hymns.
- Christmas: Every year we have a special evening worship service on Christmas Eve in which we retell the Christmas Story through the reading of some of the key Old Testament prophecies, the Nativity story, and a whole lot of singing of Christmas carols. When Christmas is on the Lord’s Day, we celebrate worship as God commands us in the 4th Commandment.
- Lent: The forty days leading up to Easter is a time of prayer and reflection on the reason why Jesus went to the cross to die—namely, our many sins. This is a time both to examine ourselves that we might remind ourselves how sinful we are as well as a time to rejoice that our God loves us enough that He would willingly choose to send his one and only Son to die that we might be forgiven and accepted.
- Holy Week: The week before Easter is a time to remember the great love of Jesus for us as well as the awesome culmination of prophecy that climaxed in Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. One major aspect of this week’s celebration is Maundy Thursday. This is a special church fellowship dinner in which we walk through the Jewish Passover in order that we might see how Jesus fulfilled the hope of Passover in the Last Supper, and how he reinterpreted it when he established the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
- Easter: Every year we celebrate the Lord’s death and resurrection. This Sunday service is particularly fitting to hear the Gospel presented in all its glory and to celebrate the forgiveness of our sins in Christ’s name.
- John M. Frame, Evangelical Reunion: Denominations and the Body of Christ (Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, MI) 1991, 109. ↩︎