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     Our church's membership is a very diverse group of people who strive toward uniting ALL Christians in one body.  Because there are no set doctrines or uniform rules, each individual is free to find the methods that suit him or her the best.  Printed below* is the story of Christian Church's beginning, some of our history, our common beliefs, information on the Church structure, and a Disciples Affirmation of Faith. 

 

What is Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)?

     The Church's name tells us a lot about the church:
Christian Church shows that members have a common bond with the church universal.  Disciples of Christ identifies members as a distinctive body within the church universal. 

     The church stands for:

  • Christian faith ~ a personal relationship with Christ, whose life and ministry reveal God's will.

  • Christian Unity ~ helping each other; working , worshiping, growing together in the way of the gospel

     Local names may be used by some congregations; such as, "First Christian Church," "Hometown Christian."

Membership in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) means...

Freedom and Diversity

In Worship

Prayer and devotion are a Christian's greatest source of strength.  There are no set doctrines or uniform rules, so each person can find the methods that suit him or her the best.

In Service

God has given each Christian unique gifts and talents.  The church offers many and varied opportunities to put them to use locally, nationally, and worldwide.

In Fellowship

Church members join together in many ways---sharing each other's joys and sorrows; helping each other follow Christ's way in every area of daily life.

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The Story of the Christian Church (DoC)

     In frontier America, the desire for freedom that led to the American Revolution was also felt in religion.  
     American settlers searched for simplicity and unity.  Many Americans wished to reform existing denominations and to unify them into one Christian Church based on a simple New Testament faith. 
     They hoped for a new approach to religion that would free them from European church structures, which didn't meet America's needs.  
     The Christian Church (DOC) was born out of this search!

Freedom and Practicality

    Frontier people lived by their own ingenuity.  They wanted practical, down-to-earth religion to help them cope with and understand a hard life.   As individuals, they felt they could read and interpret the Bible for themselves and build faith on reason.  

The Beginning of the Church

1804-- Presbyterian minister Barton W. Stone and several followers broke their denominational ties to enter into unity with "the body of Christ at large."  They simply called themselves "Christians."

1811-- A group led by Presbyterian minister Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander, began meeting independently, saying the church of Jesus Christ was one, open to all.

1820-- Alexander Campbell began public debates which, along with his writing, propelled him into leadership of the "Disciples of Christ."

1832-- The "Christians" and the "Disciples of Christ" joined together with a formal handshake.  They agreed on basic beliefs and aims.

1840-- Alexander Campbell started Bethany College in West Virginia.

1849-- First national convention held in Cincinnati and missionary society organized.

Today...
The Christian Church (DOC) is one of the LARGEST Churches founded on American soil.  More than 1.1 million members in nearly 4,300 congregations across the U.S. and Canada.

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What do the Disciples BELIEVE?
It's hard to be specific since they stress freedom and diversity
 -- but most do share these basic beliefs
.

  1. The Bible

  • a guide for Christian living and faith

  • truly reveals God's purpose in the world:  to free us from sin through Christ

Disciples have always stressed

~OPENNESS to Christ and the Gospel (translate ~ NO DOGMA!).
~REBIRTH of the values found in the New Testament accounts of the
  early church.

Each person is free to explore and interpret the
Scriptures according to his or her own experience.

  1. God 
    ~ revealed in many ways, mainly through Jesus.  No set beliefs about God ~ all experience the deity differently.

 

  1. Christ
    ~ the Child of God, part of God's own divinity; the Child of Man and Woman, living on earth as human, our Savior, with us always.

 

  1. Public Confession
    ~ of belief in Christ and repentance of sins; acceptance of Jesus into our lives.

 

  1. Unity
    ~ of all Christians in love of Christ.  Doctrines and human differences should not be allowed to divide believers from each other.

 

  1. Inclusive Ministry
    ~ in the life and work of the church.  ALL members are "ministers" -- entitled to interpret the Scriptures and perform church functions.

 

  1. The ORDINANCES of the Gospel

the two ordinances of the church
~instituted by Jesus himself

Baptism
~ an act by which a believer enters into the church universal.

Baptism is

  • for mature individuals who are old enough to make their own decisions.

  • by immersion in water -- the accepted New Testament practice.

  • a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ and commitment to discipleship.

  • symbolic of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, and of faith in life to come.

The Lord's Supper
(Communion)
~ the heart of worship.

Celebrated in

  • remembrance of Christ and Christ's life on earth.

  • fellowship -- drawing the congregation closer together.

  • thanksgiving for forgiveness of sins and renewal of life.

  • dedication to Christ's way.

The Lord's Supper is celebrated on Sundays and special occasions.  It is administered by lay people.  All Christians, of any denomination, are welcome to participate.

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The Church Structure

     The church is organized to 

  • help each member participate to the fullest

  • help the church function effectively as a whole

Three Manifestations of the Church

Congregational

Each local church has its own program of worship, mission, and service.

Members choose officers, send representatives to regional, general assemblies.

Regional

Regional bodies in the U.S. and Canada help start churches, relocate ministers, and assist congregations.  

The regions are part of the General Assembly and help choose the General Board.

General

General Assembly is made up of congregational and regional representatives and ministers.

General Board is a smaller deliberative body that does spadework for the assembly.

Each level is INDEPENDENT--determining its own programs, staff, and finances.  
Each level is COOPERATIVE--morally responsible to each other, but without a "pyramid of authority."

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The Church Mission

The church's world role:
TO WITNESS TO ALL PEOPLE and NATIONS OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
All over the world, Disciples of Christ are working through ECUMENISM:

The Disciples of Christ have always been leaders in the effort to bring Christians together again.  They helped organize National and World Councils of Churches, the Consultation on Church Union, and other interdenominational efforts.  Their efforts focus on:

  • WORSHIP -- developing bonds of shared religious experience with others.

  • BELIEFS -- identifying common ground between different denominations.

  • ACTION -- witnessing and serving others through interdenominational and united church groups whenever possible.

Our Church Mission is twofold...

...to proclaim the Gospel message

The Christian Church tries to tell others in word and deed what God has done and is doing for them, that God has come into the world and is inviting people to unite in the task of redeeming and renewing.

...to truly serve humankind

The church is dedicated to fighting disease, ignorance, poverty, racism, war, and oppression.  It also conducts self-help and development programs at home and abroad.

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Welcome to ALL Christians

THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH WELCOMES ALL CHRISTIANS

The Church Needs You..

to participate
in its ongoing mission: spreading the good news of salvation and redemption to all people everywhere.

to support
its
many important worldwide activities -- and the efforts of all religious groups to help people.

to learn
about God and God's plan for us.  The church offers many resources for making you a well-informed disciple.

...and You Need the Church...
to experience
a closer relationship with God and God's world.
to enjoy
the fellowship
, concern, and support of other members.
to discover
the deep fulfillment of
of a life truly committed to Jesus Christ.
THERE'S A PLACE FOR YOU IN THE
CHRISTIAN CHURCH (Disciples of Christ)
!

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A Disciples Affirmation

As members of the Christian Church,

We confess that Jesus is the Christ,
    the Son of the living God,
    and proclaim him Lord and Savior of the world.

In Christ's name and by his grace
    we accept our mission of witness
    and service to all people.

We rejoice in God,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    and in the covenant of love
    which binds us to God and one another.

Through baptism into Christ
    we enter into the newness of life
    and are made one with the whole people of God.

In the communion of the Holy Spirit
    we are joined together in discipleship
    and in obedience to Christ.

At the table of the Lord
    we celebrate with thanksgiving
    the saving acts and presence of Christ.

Within the universal church,
    we receive the gift of ministry
    and the light of scripture.

In the bonds of Christian faith
    we yield ourselves to God
    that we may serve the One
    whose kingdom has no end.

Blessing, glory, and honor
    be to God forever.  Amen.

~Preamble to the Design for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

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*
The information above is taken from "About the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ"
A SCRIPTOGRAPHIC BOOKLET by Channing L. Bete Co. Inc., South Deerfield, MA. 01373
U.S.A. Copyright 1978.  Booklet #17376

 

 

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Last revised: June 04, 2002 .


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