The Disciples of Christ is also referred to as The Christian Church or simply, The Disciples. Its logo features a red chalice with the Cross of Saint Andrew.
It is a relatively liberal Christian denomination with a membership of approximately 834,000 in the United States and Canada in almost in about 3,700 congregations. Apart from the US and Canada, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has partner churches worldwide.
The church had started from the American Restoration Movement but eventually branched out as a more ecumenical group.
The Restoration Movement was begun by Barton W. Stone, Thomas Campbell, his son Alexander Campbell, and others during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century.
Initially, there were two major groups working for the same end but without each other’s knowledge. One of these groups was led by Thomas and Alexander Campbell and the other one by Barton W. Stone.
The two groups merged on January 1, 1832 at the High Street Meeting House, Lexington, Kentucky. With the merger, there was need for a common name for the new group.
Thus, Alexander Campbell suggested using “Disciples of Christ” as the name. But, Barton W. Stone wanted to continue with the name “Christians”, which he had been using for his group.
As a result, both the names were used, thereby creating confusion over the names “Disciples of Christ,” “Christian Church,” and “Church of Christ” were commonly used titles for congregations during the first 100 years of the American Restoration Movement.
Finally, U.S. Religious Census recognized Churches of Christ, in 1906, as a group separate from the Disciples of Christ.
The Disciples churches, on the other hand, used “Christian Church” as the designation for congregations after this division. Gradually, the decision to restructure the entire organization evolved.
Consequently, the International Convention of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) adopted the Commission on Restructure’s “Provisional Design of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)” in 1968.
Hence, all the churches in the yearbook of were recognized as part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
With the passage of time, though, several Independent Christian Church Congregations withdrew and became part of the Christian churches and churches of Christ. To find more about the history of the church, read this.
Coming back to the Disciples of Church, the mission of this Christian denomination is, “To be and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, witnessing, loving and serving from our doorsteps “to the ends of the earth.”- Acts 1:8
Furthermore, the church supports racial reconciliation, world and national programs of education, and various other social and ethical concerns.
It strives to become an anti-racist church. It even has 440 African-American, 156 Hispanic, and 85 Asian-American congregations.
In fact, it adopted the 2020 Vision at the 2001 General assembly to guide the church and came up with The Four Priorities of the Church.
Thus, apart from aiming to become a Pro-reconciling church, the other priorities are formation of 1000 new congregations, transformation of 1000 current congregation by the year 2020, and development of ordained leadership necessary for the success of these aims.
It accepts practices like Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the Sunday worship service consisting of the Lord’s Prayer, hymns, sermon, pastoral prayer, scripture readings, and so on. Most congregations read from the Old and New Testaments.
However, due to its liberal approach, the beliefs of this Christian denomination vary from one church to another, and even within members of the same church. To get more information about this Christian denomination, visit www.disciples.org.