Finding our identity as God’s people.
Responding to the call of Jesus.This is what we’re about.
To be a church defined by the Gospel.
The Gospel is like the rock we stand on. It tells us God loves the world and is working to restore it, and that through Christ we are free from sin and have eternal life. We find ourselves anchored in it as we gather around Scripture and the Lord’s Table, and as we worship, pray, serve, and fellowship together. We want it to lead us to live out the ways of Jesus freely and fully, shaping how we think, what we say, and what we do.
To be present and involved in our neighbourhoods and city.
We orient our lives to the ways and teaching of Jesus. In the gospels we see him present and active in the lives of people throughout Galilee. He prioritized grace, taught and recontextualized Scripture, and called people to follow him. He also practiced justice and mercy, included people on the margins of society, and gathered a diverse community to be with him and carry out his mission. This shapes our call; we want to follow him.
To be growing as disciples of Jesus together.
Discipleship and faith are a learning process. We recognize they’re best practiced in community, they’re meant to be rooted in God’s Word and at the Lord’s Table, and that Jesus invites all people into this journey. As we follow him, we learn and grow, becoming more like him. We want to be a church that walks this road together, invites people in, and creates space to be who we are wherever we’re at in this process. Our doors are wide open.
None of us has it all together or all figured out, just like Jesus’ first disciples; we’re unapologetically in process. So if you find yourself there, you’ll be in good company.
Stonehouse started because some paths converged at just the right time: a new pastor and a small group of people met up in the summer of 2018 with a call to live into a Covenant expression of the Church in Steinbach. We’ve been gathering for worship since September 2018.
We are part of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), a multi-ethnic movement of over 900 congregations in Canada and the United States with ministries on five continents of the world. The ECC values the Bible as the word of God, the gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the call to extend God’s love to a hurting world, and the strength that comes from unity within diversity. Together we are Evangelical, but not exclusive; Biblical, but not doctrinaire; Traditional, but not rigid; and Congregational, but not independent.
We affirm gender equality at every level of leadership in the church, recognizing that the Bible as a whole affirms Spirit-given call, gifting, and empowerment as the predominant qualifications for those serving and leading the Church. We also practice it. For a clear picture of how we got here, see this 1993 Covenant publication: Called & Gifted.
Stonehouse is grateful for the support, accountability, and opportunities that come with being part of this larger church family.
Because faith and discipleship are meant to be practiced in community and because the Church is Christ’s body in the world. We’re meant to do this together.
We gather to remember who God is and who we are in Christ, to root our faith in the Scriptures and Sacraments and hand it on to our children, and to serve one another and our neighbours.
As we worship, learn, pray, serve, and fellowship together these things help us grow into humans who reflect Jesus more and more.
We join with the historic and present-day Church throughout the world in affirming the Nicene Creed (325 AD).
As a church in the Covenant tradition, we hold 6 affirmations as central to our identity and practice:
We affirm the centrality of the Word of God. The Word reveals who God is and who we are, what God has done and is doing in. It tells our Story, teaches us wisdom, and proclaims the good news of God’s love for the world. Through it we seek to know God and hear God speaking to us. This means we explore the Bible, we honour it and wrestle with it, we think theologically alongside the historic and present-day Church, and we ask good questions.
We affirm the reality of new birth. New birth is something God does in us, giving life to our spirits through the Holy Spirit as we believe in Jesus and come to him. It’s God making us new, a process that shapes our identity, our perspective, the way we live, and how we think about life after death.
We affirm the Church as a fellowship of believers. The New Testament reveals the Church as a covenanting family of believers with the doors wide open. All are welcome and all of us are gifted and called to participate in the life and mission of the Church. This means we affirm the gifts and calling of every believer in our churches. Every believer’s gifts are an integral and necessary part of being Christ’s body in the world.
We affirm a commitment to the whole mission of the Church. The Church’s mission is to tell God’s Story, to introduce people to Jesus and teach them his ways, and to work toward the good of all God has made. In other words, we are called to testify to what God has done through Jesus and to follow Jesus, loving God and neighbour, pursuing justice, equity, and peace, serving with humility, and proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom.
We affirm a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is how God is present in the world and with us right now. The Spirit works within and among us to teach us, comfort us, and transform us into those who reflect Jesus. The Bible teaches that the Spirit also works through us to do good and bring healing and restoration to what is broken and hurting in our world. The Spirit is actively working to draw all people to God.
We affirm the reality of freedom in Christ. United in Christ, we offer freedom to one another to differ on issues of belief or practice where the Scriptures seem to allow for more than one interpretation of God’s will and purposes. This means there’s room for us to follow our Spirit-led convictions and land in different places as we study and interpret the Scriptures. And it means we intentionally practice humility, generosity, and grace as we relate with one another and with Christians from other traditions. A few ways we live this out are by practicing both infant and believer baptism, creating space for honest conversation, and welcoming all people to join us at the communion table.
*We hope that as you read these affirmations you will find yourself identifying with them in your own faith experience. If they raise questions for you or you would like to know more, we encourage you to have a conversation with Pastor Shannon.
Shannon Johnson Friesen is the pastor and church planter of Stonehouse. She did her MDiv at Providence Theological Seminary, has lived in Steinbach most of her life, and loves being part of this city. She’s an Enneagram 2 so she legit loves almost everyone. She lives with Tim, Piper, Dexter, Jasper, and their dogs Raven and Scout. Some of her favourite things include coffee, running, music, hiking, being with family and friends, and watching her kids play sports. Shannon loves the Bible for its complexity and simplicity, and for how God speaks through it even though it’s ancient.
Tara Elias Schellenberg, Kenny Penner, and Angelle Arinobu make up the Stonehouse Council. They serve and lead Stonehouse in a variety of ways and also help determine our direction, priorities, and next steps.