Who are we as part of the wider Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)?
We as a church family are part of the wider Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination. That denomination was born here in North America partly in response to the Second Great Awakening. We trace our history to the nineteenth-century reform movement led by Barton Stone and Thomas and Alexander Campbell. They sought to find a basis for unity among all the competing Christian groups on the North American frontier.
The compound name of our denomination – Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) – recognizes the historical coming together of two movements in 1832. The “Christian Church” part of the name stems from the church’s Kentucky ancestry and Barton W. Stone, whose followers dissolved their Presbyterian relationship in favor of a church less complicated, less dedicated to the use of creeds as tests of belief, and more open to the reunion of Christians. Around that same time, Thomas and Alexander Campbell, whose movement to restore Christian unity developed similarly but separately in western Pennsylvania, rebelled against dogmatic confines of sects (or sectarianism). The Campbells chose “Disciples of Christ” because they felt it was less pretentious than “Christian Church”.
So, as a local church family in Findlay, Ohio, we have always been part of a movement whose historic plea has been unity among all Christians, brought about by the restoration of the practice of New Testament Christianity. Our belief in the New Testament as a guide for faith and practice has led us to teach Believer’s Baptism by immersion and to observe a weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper which is open to all believers in Jesus Christ. We do not require rebaptism for those who come to us from other Christian traditions because we consider them to be full sisters and brothers in Christ.
As part of our wider denomination, we support more than 147 missionaries in 44 partner countries (we do this through our Common Global Ministry with the United Church of Christ denomination). Our National Benevolent Association supports over 70 care centers for older adults, needy children, and the disabled. 14 colleges and 10 theological graduate seminaries have affiliations with our denomination.
We as a local church family – and as part of our Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination – are a diverse people in many ways. We find our unity in Jesus Christ. He is the firm foundation upon which we build our lives. We share His life-changing love unashamedly with evangelical zeal to all people regardless of race, social class, political persuasion, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, or age. Our enthusiasm comes from our core belief that the love of Christ is the most powerful force for positive change in our personal lives, in our society, and in our world. Our church opens wide its doors to all people who sin and who need a Savior. In the name of Jesus, the Lord, we, as a church say, “Welcome!”
The symbol of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is the red chalice bearing the “X” shaped Cross of St. Andrew has become the symbol of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The chalice symbolizes the centrality of the Lord’s Supper as well as the cup of Christian self-giving for the world.
The St. Andrews’s cross, the national cross of Scotland, focuses attention on the Scottish Presbyterian roots of the church. Thomas and Alexander Campbell both studied in Scotland and were Presbyterians, drawing many of their ideas from developments taking place in that country. In addition, St. Andrew has been identified with the laity and evangelism, prominent emphases of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) over the years.