Disciples Identity Statement
Founded in the early 1800s in the United States, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) grew out of two movements seeking Christian unity that sprang up almost simultaneously in western Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Our founders, Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell, were seeking to move beyond denominational disagreements. They envisioned a united church of Jesus Christ modeled on the New Testament.
Today, our denomination continues to be influenced by its founding ideals of our unity in Christ with openness and diversity in practice and belief. While each of our 3,800 congregations is unique, we still share many characteristics.
Like most Christians, we affirm that Jesus Christ is the son of the Living God, and that all persons are God’s children.
- We practice weekly communion, which is open to all who believe in Jesus Christ.
- Each congregation is self-governing and calls its own pastor.
- Both ministers and lay-persons lead in worship, service, and spiritual growth.
- Open discussion of issues is encouraged. Diversity of opinion is common.
Some of our basic beliefs include:
- The Weekly Observance of Communion—Disciples worship and theology finds its foundation at the Lord’s Table. God has done for us, through Christ, what we could not do on our own. Through the gift of Christ’s life, celebrated through communion, we find salvation and hope. In response to this gift of grace, we worship and serve God with joy and gratitude.
- The Prominent Place of the Bible in the Community of Faith—Disciples have honored the special role of scripture in seeking to be guided by the will of God. Although interpretations of various passages may be diverse, there is a general affirmation that the Bible is authoritative for the faith community. Early slogans in our history included: “We believe in no book but the Bible, no creed but Christ” and “Where the scriptures speak, we speak; where the scriptures are silent, we are silent.
- Believer’s Baptism by Immersion—From the earliest traditions of the church, we demonstrate our commitment to God by dramatic action, letting the waters of our baptism give witness to new life in Christ as we receive the gift of God’s grace upon us.
Watch the video “A Movement for Wholeness” if you would like to discover more about the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) or visit the denominational Web site at www.disciples.org.