One Body with Many Members
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, through many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (First Corinthians 12)
Within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) each local congregation owns its own property, organizes its own programs, and calls its own staff but each congregation is bound together in covenant with all other Disciples congregations, with Regions such as our own Upper Midwest Region, and with the "General" denomination-wide units around the planet. The local, regional, and general manifestations of the Disciples are not arranged in a hierarchy with one manifestation having authority over another, but rather we are bound together in a mutual covenant which recognizes that each brings unique and important spiritual gifts to our common table. So also within a local congregation there is not a hierarchy where those of higher office rule over those of lower office. In most cases, important decisions are made by consensus or by a simple majority vote following open discussion at a board or congregational meeting. The musician who is able to summon the souls of worshipers to new appreciations of God's grace and the church gardener whose fingernails have the grit of the soil beneath them have gifts that are equally spiritual. The church is called into existence in response to the loving acts of God and so our purpose is the increase of the love of God and neighbor.