College Church

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College Church was established in 1972 as a non-denominational evangelical church. Evangelicalism emerged during the revival period of the 1700s and 1800s. The movement influenced people to look to the Bible for answers as opposed to relying on the interpretations of the clergy. After a period of growth, Evangelicalism fractured into two groups in the early twentieth century, liberal evangelicals and fundamentalists [1]. Fundamentalists opposed the modernization of Christian theology that liberals embraced. They left their churches and sought to create churches that better reflected their beliefs. Non-denominational evangelical churches are descendants of these early twentieth-century fundamentalists, even though most non-denominational evangelicals now are theologically conservative but not fundamentalists.[2].  

Evangelicals believe that salvation comes through God’s grace, not through the good works that people do. They believe salvation was made possible because of Jesus’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. They preach Jesus’s message based upon their reading of the Bible, a book that they regard as being without any (serious) error. Evangelicals seek to guide others towards these beliefs in preparation for Jesus’ second coming [3]. 

Although College Church’s ideology stems from evangelicalism, it is not affiliated with a larger association of evangelical churches. It has an independent leadership that identifies as “interdenominational.” Its Senior Pastor is Bill Hodgeman. Like many other evangelical groups, the church uses the New International Version of the Holy Bible [4]. College Church’s congregation is composed of mostly white, middle-aged and older, men and women from different denominational backgrounds. It is among Northampton’s largest religious groups.

 

[1] Christian Smith, American Evangelicalism: Embattled and Thriving (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998) 2-3.

[2] George M. Marden, Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991) 6-9.

[3] George M. Marden, Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991) 22.

[4] “Mission and Vision,” The College Church, accessed Nov 16 2019, https://thecollegechurch.org/about-us/vision/