What is Palm Schwenkfelder Church Like?
Palm Schwenkfelder Church is a small-town church about 50 miles north of Philadelphia in Palm, PA. Many of our members were raised in Palm church and can trace their lineage to the landing of the Schwenkfelders in Philadelphia in 1734. However, most new members come from “somewhere else” and have different religious backgrounds. People come to Palm because of its friendly atmosphere, simple services, and our emphasis on building a personal relationship with God.
Who are the Schwenkfelders?
It is impossible to describe the present day Schwenkfelders without mentioning the past. Palm Schwenkfelder Church derives its name and its heritage from a 16th century Reformation leader named Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig. Schwenckfeld was a Silesian nobleman who became involved in the Protestant Reformation soon after it began in 1517. Schwenckfeld championed the spirituality of religion, spiritual interpretation of the Bible, freedom of conscience, separation of church and state, and an ecumenical church that unites all Christians. He believed that the true Christian church consists of all those who worship God in spirit and in truth, whether or not they adhere to one doctrine. We try to embody that spirit at Palm Schwenkfelder Church. Many of our members were raised in non-Schwenkfelder churches and bring different religious backgrounds with them. People come to Palm because of its welcoming atmosphere, non-liturgical services, and emphasis on building a personal relationship with Christ.
While Schwenckfeld upheld the historic creeds of the church (Apostles and Nicene), he formulated no creed of his own. He spent most of his life studying the Scriptures, prayerfully considering their meaning and sharing his understanding with others. He was too humble to presume that he had all of the answers, and felt that creeds could limit one’s search for a better answer. As Schwenkfelders, we believe that our faith is our own, defined by a personal knowledge of Christ, and built through study and prayer. However, the following statements broadly reflect our beliefs:
- God is Spirit… Spiritual fellowship with God is primary; ceremony and ritual are secondary.
- Spirit above the Letter… We are primarily interested in meaning, not method. We seek the Spirit in Scripture and in prayer.
- Christ is the Way… Christ is the one and only way to the spiritual kingdom of God. We seek a personal relationship with Christ through the spiritual interpretation of the Bible.
- Christian Liberty … The mind and conscience must be free and unfettered by human creed. Each individual’s Christian perspective is of value.
- Christian Works of Love… We are saved by our faith, not by our works; but there remains a need for Christian works of love. We must be concerned about human need and apply our faith to all of life.
- The Christian Church… The true Christian church consists of all those who worship God in spirit and in truth, whether or not they adhere to one doctrine.
- Separation of Church and State… Government has no right either to influence or to interfere with religious convictions, or to dictate what men shall believe.