For an overview, see the national Disciples' video A Movement for Wholeness.
Personal and Corporate Spirituality
William Willimon, probably the most popular United Methodist preacher in the United States today, has said that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is in the best position of all the mainline denominations to appeal to and benefit from cultural trends because of our "pragmatic ecumenism and intense spirituality." The Disciples have always had Church unity as our "polar star." In today's culture Disciples do not construe unity as lumping all Christians into some megadenomination, but unity is found in doing as much together as we can, learning from each other, and growing toward each other in faith and practice. Our congregation has a long history of supporting interfaith and interdenominational activities, ecumenical campus ministry, and ecumenically-based social services in our community. We have seen the basis of Church unity as relational: based on our spiritual relationship with a living God rather than our agreement about credal statements. This has made the practice of the spiritual disciplines central to our faith and teaching since the faith must have relational as well as theological content.
A Broad Vision of Social Justice
Our congregation has a long history of commitment to missions beyond ourselves that continues today. In the 1870's FCC member Caroline Neville Pearre was instrumental in founding the Woman's Christian Board of Missions which became the International Christian Women's fellowship and the Division of Overseas Ministries through which literally millions of persons have been reached for Christ. In the early 1900's Sara Hart (the namesake of our current women's guild) engaged us in missions by going to Appalachia and the Northwest on our behalf. More recently, members of our congregation have gone on missions to Asia, Africa, and India. We have been involved in the founding and/or support of many local social services, including: Ecumenical Towers Housing Corporation, Senior Dining, the Common Fund, ministries of the Consultation of Religious Communities, Togather Together, the Housing Fellowship, Shelter House, Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry, Domestic Violence Intervention Project, Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity, and many more. We have demonstrated a continuing passion for a broad vision of social justice, which must continue to be our passion in the years ahead.
Our congregation has intentionally blurred the lines between visitor, participant, and member to make it clear that we value every person who is involved with our congregation apart from overt level of commitment or longevity in the faith. We recognize that many visitors to our worship services have little acquaintance with Church customs and vocabulary. It is essential to our congregation's health and mission to continue to make personal calls on first-time visitors, train our worship greeters and ushers, and work at making our worship services accessible to persons whose experience and understanding of the faith is just beginning. At the same time, we have many participants whose long experience and mature faith still need to be consistently challenged. We have a mix of political and religious conservatives, liberals, and many whose characteristics defy classification. We see this diversity as God's gift and as a sign that true spiritual community is present. (1 Cor 12:4-6 NRSV) "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone." Our congregation must continue to encourage and to provide varieties of ways to express the faith, while maintaining the theological integrity of the Christian Gospel.
A primary focus of any congregation must be to invite, recruit, adopt, integrate and mature new disciples. (Eph 4:11-12 NRSV) "The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ..." In the past, our congregation has concentrated on ministry with seniors, ministry with students, and (more recently) ministry with children and youth. We must continue to remind ourselves that our central mission is to make disciples who share God's love and the good news of God's grace with all persons through daily acts of justice, mercy, and love.
To learn more about the Disciples, see the website for our national organization, disciples.org.
For a history of the denomination, see the Stone-Campbell History Project
- See more at: http://disciples.org/our-identity/