We, the elders at Lee Acres Church of Christ, offer this statement to clarify the identity of our congregation. To anyone interested in knowing about us, we hope this provides insight into the spirit of our congregation, the convictions for which we stand, and the goals which lie ahead. To our members, we hope this provides reassurance that despite changes in society and the diversity of our congregation, we can, with God’s help, grow and serve together in the same spirit of love, tolerance, compassion, and hospitality that has characterized us in the past and is dear to all of us. This is not meant as a statement of faith, nor is it written in stone. It simply describes who we are and the goals that are important to us. It also describes the manner by which we, as a consequence of who we are, intend live out our goals in the future.
The identity of Lee Acres Church of Christ must emerge from the story of Jesus Christ and of God’s love for the world. In particular, we identify ourselves with Christ’s compassion for the underprivileged and for those who have for some reason felt themselves estranged or rejected by other religious groups either for personal, social or, in some cases, doctrinal issues. Consequently, we have become a very loving and accepting congregation with diverse roots. We find ourselves becoming less legalistic through the years. Our identity certainly includes an enduring concern for scripture and a correct interpretation of its message for us, but it also includes a demand for openness characterized by kindness and a genuine self-giving love. This, we believe, is a dominant force in the identity of Lee Acres Church of Christ.
The Lee Acres congregation was established in the late 1960’s, and we embrace our heritage. Since many of the founding members came from Churches of Christ in Tupelo, we have deeply rooted connections with these congregations. Many have relatives and close friends who are members of these congregations. Many members at Lee Acres have been members of Churches of Christ since childhood. In addition to this heritage, we have members who have come from other Christian traditions such as Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Christian Church, Baptist, and others. Small as we are, we are truly a religiously diverse congregation.
Alongside this diversity, what marks us, holds us together, encourages us, gives us life and enthusiasm, and makes it a joy to worship together on a Sunday morning is the fact that we show great capacity to love, accept, and appreciate one another. Our Sunday morning assembly is characterized as much by the periods of greeting and sharing as it is by more formal elements of worship. It is the sharing of the Lord’s Supper that forms the focal point of our weekly gathering. Lee Acres demonstrates a unique determination and ability to show great love and acceptance of one another in the midst of our diversity. We are united in the quest to love and serve God. All of us cherish and protect this blessed characteristic of the Lee Acres family.
Another cherished part of our identity is to enjoy relationships with believers in other congregations and with our community in the pursuit of worthy endeavors. We acknowledge and value the many things we have in common with our sister congregations in the Churches of Christ. We also embrace our congregational autonomy, with our ultimate goal to live out God’s will for us in this place. We try to conduct congregational efforts in ways that please God, respect the authority of Scripture, and forward the mission and needs of our congregation. This often expresses itself in ways that are similar to Church of Christ traditions, but also in ways that vary with tradition, such as worship style, observance of holidays such as Christmas and Easter, and cooperation with the community and other religious organizations in benevolent efforts. We respect the right of all congregations to behave similarly.
Our heritage in the Restoration Movement also instructs another important aspect of our identity, wherein we acknowledge that while we are Christians only, we are not the only Christians. In the spirit of our tradition, we value the many things we have in common with other Christian traditions, and engage this unity in a manner that is congruent with the teachings of Scripture.