Beliefs and Practices
Who are we?
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) springs from a movement which captured the imagination of pioneer America. This movement took shape in 1832, when followers of Barton Stone of Bourbon County (Paris) and Alexander Campbell met in Lexington and agreed to work together. Stone and Campbell taught that all believers are united in one faith through Christ. They rejected man made creeds and tests of faith. They also emphasized a restoration of a New Testament Christianity. Seeds of this new movement were evident at the frontier revival at Cane Ridge in Bourbon County in 1801, which drew something over 20,000 participants.
At First Christian, in addition to the primary profession of faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, we ask two questions: "Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?" and "Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, all your mind and with all your strength?" Jesus quoted this Old Testament passage in Matthew 22:34-38.
What about scripture?
In our tradition studying scripture is essential to an understanding of God's plan and purpose. We believe that embedded in scripture are nuggets of essential wisdom, inspiration, encouragement and truth for every person. Through stories and parables we come to understand our own story. We believe scripture to be a living Word, interacting with the experience, emotion and life circumstance of the believer. We believe that each person interacts with the text in a personal way, but that each individual interpretation is informed by communal study, historic scholarly interpretation and the result of prayer. Thus, the same scripture read at different points in life may produce new and uplifting inspiration and insight within the realm of responsible scholarly interpretation.
Come tell us what you think.
What about baptism?
We practice believer's baptism which suggests that the one seeking baptism be able to make a personal decision to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Baptism in the Christian Church is by immersion which represents the complete cleansing power of salvation in Christ. Leaning back into the waters is a sign of trust, of dying to self and being buried in Christ. Rising from the waters represents a spiritual resurrection to new life.
We embrace and celebrate other methods of baptism from different traditions which have meaning for the believer and we do not require re-baptism. What about children? We invite new parents and their families to schedule a time during worship to acknowledge God's grace and full blessing on their child. The parents make commitments to raise their child in the church and to be good parents. Children are invited to participate in a six week baptism class about the time they become 11 years old, more or less. This is for those who are exploring the possibility of making a profession of faith and being baptized.
The Lord's Supper
Each week we celebrate the Lord's Supper. In the broken bread and cup we see symbolic representations of the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross. In the bread and cup we are united by the love of a Savior whose death was for all people. Each member and guest who believes is invited to this table. Each person makes their own decision about participating. We eat the bread when it is passed and hold the cup to partake together. Trays of fresh bread and small cups of grape juice are passed to you by the deacons.
Attendance and participation are the surest signs of active membership. Formal membership is best discussed first with one of the pastors to clarify any questions. Usually, those who desire to become members respond to the pastor's invitation at the end of the sermon. Most walk down front to where the pastor stands. You will be asked each of the three questions listed in "Who Are We?" above. Your name will then be placed on the church roll and you will be invited to worship, learn and serve with us. We have approximately 400 members.
Each person is given gifts from God and called to serve. Men and women and often youth, serve side by side as pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, board and committee members and in every other way in the life of the church. We believe God has the power and the desire to call people to serve regardless of life circumstance. For example, Tyrone Ballew, who is a death row inmate in Ohio, recently accepted an invitation to join our church. An elder who visits him regularly and her husband came forward in worship to tell us that he had reaffirmed his faith in her presence. His ongoing relationship with the elder and with different members of the congregation witness to a gentle spirit, a kind heart and a willingness to share himself with us. He participates in the life of our church through letters exchanged and paintings he sends to individual members.
We believe religion to be relationship and prayer to be the conversation in that relationship. One way to understand what God can do with you in prayer is to read Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. We try not to limit how God answers prayers. We believe God has salted the earth with unlimited answers to prayers, most often prior to our asking. "Answers" are often the result of our awareness of what God has done and is doing through the natural world and through people. We believe God answers prayers in God's own time and God's own way. Our work is to be faithful and keep our eyes and ears opens. Our prayers may be addressed by reading the Bible.
Story: Recently a 90 year old member of our congregation was awakened by the flashing lights of an ambulance next door. She told her family and then struggled about what to do. She could not get out of the house in the middle of the night. Then a peace came over her. She returned to bed and decided the best thing she could do is pray for the one who was sick. She was calmed and reassured in turning her concern over to God.
We believe if you center your life around loving and serving God you will know what to give and when to give to support the body of Christ — the church. Giving is a private matter in our congregation. No one knows the amount of your gift except you and the Financial Secretary. Giving is an act of faith.
Led by our choir we sing many traditional hymns from our hymnbook Chalice Praise. Included in our hymnbook are praise choruses, Spanish lyrics and African lyrics, gospel songs and patriotic songs. We have experienced country/gospel solos, classical string trios, accapella singing, special arrangement choir anthems and children singing in worship.
Our newsletter, The Messenger, is published weekly. A Sunday bulletin is provided. This web site is our latest effort at communicating with our members and with YOU!