“People have free choice because they feel life within themselves just as if it were their own. God allows people to feel this so that He can be conjoined with them, for He cannot be conjoined with them unless it is reciprocal, and it becomes reciprocal only when they act in freedom altogether as from themselves.”
Emanuel Swedenborg, True Christian Religion 504:7
The LaPorte New Church is a welcoming, open-minded, inclusive Christian ministry in our worship and love of Jesus Christ as God. What might make us different from other Christian churches is that we encourage the spirit of inquiry and personal growth. We believe that God’s love, wisdom, and forgiveness is available to every person; God is as close to every person as they invite God to be. We respectfully understand and accept that not all paths to and with God are the same.
Also, we believe that salvation is a lifelong process of spiritual development that requires loving God and others, having faith and striving each day to be useful, acknowledging that all love, faith and goodness in us flows through us from the Lord. Thus, the Lord deserves all honor and praise as the Source of all that is good and true.
We read and understand the Bible as the Holy Word of God. We strive to use God’s lessons in ways that pertain to and impact our intentions and actions in our everyday lives.
Some Bible stories and verses have great meaning in their literal and historical senses. Others take on a deeper meaning, a parallel message or symbolism as illuminated by theologian and renowned scientist Emanuel Swedenborg, much as the parables that Jesus taught.
Why is this called the LaPorte New Church when it is over 160 years old, having been built in 1859? The denomination’s Swedenborgian Church (originally incorporated in 1817 as the General Convention of the New Jerusalem ) began during the Age of Enlightenment, and the name of LaPorte New Church was shortened for simplicity.
You are invited to this warm-hearted worship community, meeting both in-person and online for worship services and other programs. You are welcome to connect with our pastor, the Rev. Kit Billings for more information.
Nature and the New Church
Another distinguishing aspect of New Church theology is how we see that nature (or the natural world) plays a role in helping us understand spiritual ideas in life. The natural universe is created out of God’s mind and handiwork, and so it reveals God’s wisdom within its qualities, forms and functions.
All of creation contains an orderliness to it, which starts at the peak or highest level (which is God, as creator), extending down through Heaven and culminating in the physical universe. As we move down this ladder of the Lord’s Spirit manifesting in life, each level is a less-perfect reflection of the one above it. What is higher is revealed symbolically in an object, form or creature. Swedenborg shared this method of interpretation in his writings of a symbolic meaning represented in the Bible as he experienced a deeply reflective and lengthy connection to God.
For example, think of the warmth and goodness of the Sun. The Sun in the sky symbolizes God’s ever-present radiance of Divinity throughout life. And, the Divine Love of the Lord permeating the universe giving life to us all is like the warmth or heat of the Sun pouring out constantly in all directions, sustaining life from the beginning. We are dependent upon the heat and light of the Sun, just as we are dependent on the Lord’s loving wisdom forever as spiritual beings.
Another example of how nature symbolizes our spiritual life within us is the way that birds represent our thoughts (often flitting about, introspectively). They are our affection for higher forms of reflection and thoughts related to God and living life within spiritual values and ways of knowing what is good and true.
Visit the Swedenborg Foundation for books.
We all have the capacity for higher thinking and insight, but it’s often easy to let these spiritual abilities be overtaken by worldly interests and selfish concerns. If we allow this to happen, then the “birds” or thoughts of our higher, spiritual mind are grounded by our worldliness.
However, we can open ourselves up lovingly toward the Lord, meditating often on His Word and the heavenly values contained in it. When we do this, especially when we choose to use God’s truths, mercy and kindness within our own daily living, our thoughts can soar high above a merely natural way of seeing things, the same way that birds take off from the ground and soar aloft in the golden light from the Sun (which represents God). And how beautiful is that!
All of the LaPorte New Church Programs are open to those who are seeking to illumine and enrich their spiritual life. We respect differences in views, and we accept and value others who have different traditions. Below are listed our normal programs and activities, however, all in-person activities are not meeting until further notice during the pandemic. We have a great online ministry for adults, which includes weekly Sunday Worship at 10:00 AM Central Time, and a weekly online book club or spiritual growth group.
Programs we offer:
It is our honor to open our hearts and our sanctuary to you and your loved ones in your time of loss.
We are here to accommodate your wishes for a Funeral, Memorial, or Celebration of Life in our peaceful sanctuary.
Rev. Billings offers his gentle support and guidance to help ease this time of grief.
In keeping with our faith journey of compassionate caring, we understand that loss and grief are experienced in myriads of ways and therefore we are respectful of diverse faith beliefs and customs.
We offer a holy place to share fond memories, mourn, and grieve, and also to celebrate the life of your loved one and how they will be remembered.
We welcome you to Contact Us for more information.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
There are many sweet moments in our lives, one of them being the welcoming of a baby into your family.
The New Church joyfully celebrates the sacrament of baptism for infants and children as a holy tradition that signifies the beginning of their spiritual life, that we all need the cleansing power of the Lord’s truths in Scripture, and it indicates a promise by their parents to try to raise their child with the ideals of the Bible as the Holy Word.
Baptism is also an invitation to the the Lord’s angels to watch over and bless the child.
For youth and adults, baptism is a more mature occasion. It is a willing starting point that represents their conscious awareness and commitment to be led by God to a fuller, richer life of love, wisdom and usefulness.
This sacrament can be celebrated with a private service with just the minister, with one’s family and friends, or as part of the congregation’s Worship Service.
As is our tradition, we welcome all who desire the Lord’s blessing.
Baptism at LaPorte New Church represents being received into the ecumenical Christian faith and not as becoming a member of our New Church.
Membership is achieved through a confirmation service.
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