Q: What is Ascension?
A: Ascension is a congregation of Christians affiliated with WELS (the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod). WELS began in 1850 when three pastors met in Milwaukee, Wisconsin . Today, it has grown to over 1,200 congregations in North America . It has over 400,000 baptized members served by over 1,000 pastors.
Q: What does Ascension believe?
A: The short answer is that we believe what the Bible teaches. Only by believing in Jesus as Savior is a person saved. Only by God’s grace (undeserved love) is this salvation available. Only in the Bible do we discover God’s plan for our salvation.
Lutherans have historically referred to these concepts as the three “Solas” (from the Latin): SOLA FIDE (only by faith), SOLA GRATIA (only by grace) and SOLA SCRIPTURA (only through the Bible).
A more detailed summary of our beliefs, along with the specific references from the Bible that support them, can be found here.
Q: What makes your church different from other churches in Jacksonville ?
A: One obvious difference you will see from other churches you may be familiar with is how we administer the “sacraments” – that is, those special ceremonies God gives us in the Bible as ways to express his love and forgiveness.
We administer Baptism to anyone who desires it for themselves or their children because the Bible says Jesus commanded his people to “make disciples” by “baptizing and teaching.” The Christian church has always offered this special ceremony even to babies because it is a “washing of rebirth and renewal,” as the Bible states. We typically baptize by sprinkling water upon a person’s head, which is one of several ways that early Christians performed Baptism. When a person is baptized, the Bible says that that person is then connected to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
We offer Holy Communion (sometimes called “the Lord’s Supper” or “the Eucharist”) to our members who have been instructed and confirmed in their membership. The Bible states that Communion is both the joining of Jesus’ body and blood to the bread and wine that we use in the sacrament and also the joining of each communicant to each other and Christ. In Communion we receive Jesus’ body and blood as his promise that his death was truly for us. We are also making a statement that we are united to each other in faith. We wait to serve a person Communion until they are ready to make such a statement.
Q: What is your service like?
A: We follow a structured service of songs, Bible lessons, and prayers. Everything is printed out in our service folder so that you can easily follow along.
Children typically sit with their parents during church. We do recognize, of course, that little ones will sometimes find it hard to sit still, so we have installed a closed-circuit television feed that allows you to take your child to the back room and still participate in the service.
We have no “dress code” at Ascension and you are welcome whether you are dressed formally or wearing blue jeans.
Part of our worship is the collection of an offering. This is a way for our members to express their love for God by returning to him some of the monetary gifts he has given them. We do not compel visitors to put anything in the offering plate, so we encourage you to simply pass the plate to the next person when it comes to you if you so desire.