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Banner representing the Apostles' Creed
Apostles' Creed Banner
"THE SOMBER BROWN COLOR: The difficulty and rigor of early Christianity under persecution; also the monastic tradition.
THE PURPLE ARCHES: The entrances to caves or catacombs, where early Christians met in secret; also the shape of Gothic church windows.
THE ANCHOR CROSS: Security in Christ, as found by the apostles, some of whom were fishermen.
THE FISH: An ancient symbol for the Christian faith, perhaps a secret code mark. Letters of the Greek word for fish can be used as the first letters in the phrase 'Jesus Christ God's Son Savior.'
THE CHALICE: The Lord's Supper, and thus the earnest and simple fellowship of the early church.
THE UPSIDE-DOWN CROSS: Peter, chief of the apostles, who, in legend, is said to have been crucified upside-down because he thought himself unworthy of a death like his Master's."
 
When the Book of Confessions was adopted in 1983, Richard K. Avery, pastor, and Donald S. Marsh, choir director, of the First Presbyterian Church of Port Jervis, New York, devised banners symbolic of the confessions. The explanation above is from their presentation. Since their initial presentation, many PCUSA congregations have constructed banners following these designs. This photo of the Apostles' Creed banner is from the First Presbyterian Church of Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

First and foremost, Presbyterians hold the Bible in a unique and authoritative place above all other writings. We interpret the Bible using the theological lenses of historic creeds and confessions. The Book of Confessions is part of the constitution of our church. It contains

We believe that God continues to teach us truths that may not have been recognized by earlier generations. We believe these creeds are important statements of what one particular group of people of faith believed at one particular period in history.

The most recent document in the Book of Confessions, "A Brief Statement of Faith," was adopted in 1983. It is printed below.

A Brief Statement of Faith—
      Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

In life and in death we belong to God.
      Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
            the love of God,
                  and the communion of the Holy Spirit,
      we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel,
      whom alone we worship and serve.

We trust in Jesus Christ,
            fully human, fully God.
      Jesus proclaimed the reign of God:
            preaching good news to the poor
                  and release to the captives,
            teaching by word and deed
                  and blessing the children,
            healing the sick
                  and binding up the brokenhearted,
            eating with outcasts,
            forgiving sinners,
            and calling all to repent and believe the gospel.
      Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition,
      Jesus was crucified,
            suffering the depths of human pain
            and giving his life for the sins of the world.
      God raised this Jesus from the dead,
            vindicating his sinless life,
            breaking the power of sin and evil,
            delivering us from death to life eternal.

We trust in God,
            whom Jesus called Abba, Father.
      In sovereign love God created the world good
            and makes everyone equally in God’s image,
                  male and female, of every race and people,
            to live as one community.
      But we rebel against God; we hide from our Creator.
            Ignoring God’s commandments.
            we violate the image of God in others and ourselves,
            accept lies as truth,
            exploit neighbor and nature,
            and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care.
            We deserve God’s condemnation.
      Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation.
      In everlasting love,
            the God of Abraham and Sarah chose a covenant people
                  to bless all families of the earth.
      Hearing their cry,
            God delivered the children of Israel
                  from the house of bondage.
      Loving us still,
            God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant.
      Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child,
      like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home,
            God is faithful still.

We trust in God the Holy Spirit
            everywhere the giver and renewer of life.
      The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith,
            sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor,
            and binds us together with all believers
            in the one body of Christ, the Church.
      The same Spirit
            who inspired the prophets and apostles
            rules our faith and life in Christ through Scripture,
            engages us through the Word proclaimed,
            claims us in the waters of baptism,
            feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation,
            and calls women and men to all ministries of the Church.
      In a broken and fearful world
      the Spirit gives us courage
            to pray without ceasing,
            to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
            to unmask idolatries in Church and culture,
            to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,
            and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.
      In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit,
            we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks
                  and to live holy and joyful lives,
            even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth,
                praying, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

With believers in every time and place,
      we rejoice that nothing in life or in death
      can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.