As part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we share a 200-year-old tradition with more than 3,000 congregations in Canada and the United States. We believe that the church is built by people worshipping together, not by creeds or hierarchies.
New members do not have to recite any creed. We have always believed that Christian fellowship should not be dependent upon creeds or mandatory forms of church government. Unlike most Christian groups, the Disciples don’t have a list of distinctive beliefs that separate them from others. We are distinguished by some common practices Below is a list of these practices. Other Christian groups carry out some of these practices, but the Disciples are unique in combining all ten of them.
- We celebrate Communion every week. The Lord’s Table is the center of our worship each time we worship. We practice an open table, which means anyone who is a follower of Jesus is welcomed at Communion. At the table, Christ is remembered as we offer to one another the bread and cup of remembrance.
- We are a people of the Book. Each individual is responsible for the study and interpretation of scripture. For us, the study of scripture is a lifetime commitment, and as a result, we recognize that minds change and faith is always making new discoveries. We do not expect everyone’s interpretation of the Bible or the Christian life to be identical.
- We practice believer’s baptism by immersion, but no one who has been baptized as a Christian has to be baptized again. We recognize and affirm the baptisms are many and varied. We do not insist that our practice is the only one that is valid. Therefore, we welcome Christians from other traditions who have received a different form of baptism. One of our slogans is “United in Faith, Diverse in Practice.” Persons from other Christian traditions are welcome without suspicion or condition.
- We are congregational, yet voluntarily connected. First Christian has the authority over its life and ministries. We choose to share our resources with other congregations connected to us because we know that the mission of the church is not just local.
- We include women as leaders in the church. We believe that God provides spiritual gifts to all, and we do not restrict any office or role in the life of the church by gender.
- We emphasize lay leadership. Church members are encouraged to exercise their gifts freely without limits. Lay persons can preach, baptize, officiate at the Lord’s Table, and offer pastoral care.
- We emphasize an educated clergy. We believe that quality of leadership must be undergirded with quality education. We establish educational and professional standards for clergy, and we hold clergy to ethical accountability through denominational oversight.
- We practice Christian unity as often as we can. Disciples pray and strive for the unity of the church of Jesus Christ.
- We practice the “whosoever will” of Jesus regarding the public witness of the church. Cultural concerns of race, gender, income, political parties, education, or social standing have no place in the church.
- We believe that judgment belongs to God alone.