Our Local History

First Christian’s congregation, with currently 78 members, has faithfully witnessed to and served the Okeene community since 1915. First has been a church home for hundreds in our almost 100 year history, and our doors are open to you. All are welcome!

If you are new to the community, new to the faith or have been separated for whatever reason, from your former congregation or denomination, we welcome your inquires, your questions, your attendance, and your participation.

We believe that the life most worth living is a life lived in Christian love. We also believe that God calls the church, Christ's living body, to be a place where there is deep spirituality, true community, and a passion for justice.

Our Denomination

     After the War for Independence (1776-81), most of the main churches brought from Europe--Puritans (Congregationalists), Anglicans (Episcopalians), Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists--were divided into various factions warring among themselves over differences in doctrine and church practices. By the year 1800, there was indifference, and some hostility, to organized religion, resulting in scarcely 10% of the population belonging to a church. As rugged pioneers set out to make new lives for themselves on the frontier, the old denominational doctrine and thought held little meaning for their new lifestyles.

     But in the rolling hills of Kentucky, Presbyterian minister Barton W. Stone began to be disillusioned by the discord within and among the traditional Protestant churches. Because of his experience at the 1801 Cane Ridge Revival, Stone recognized that these denominational divisions detracted from the simple message of the Gospel. He and several colleagues formed an alliance whose sole purpose was to "enter into unity with the body of Christ at large." In keeping with this mission, they used the simple name "Christians" to describe their movement.

     Meanwhile, another Presbyterian minister, Thomas Campbell, was coming to the same conclusion in Washington, Pennsylvania. Looking toward the simplicity of the New Testament church, Thomas and his son Alexander aimed to recreate the early church by casting off denominational creeds and restrictions. They believed that all Christians, regardless of denominational labels, are simply "Disciples of Christ," and that the Church should be one. They called themselves "Disciples."

     Seeking to move beyond denominational disagreements, the founders envisioned a united church of Jesus Christ modeled on the New Testament. From the beginning, our message of independence mixed with responsibility, freedom mixed with commitment, has appealed to those with a pioneer spirit. In 1832 the "Christians" and the "Disciples" joined together into one fellowship of believers, hence our name, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

     Our denomination is uniquely equipped to live up to its identity, that it is a "movement for wholeness in a fragmented world." Today we are over 4,000 congregations strong and still share the founding ideals of our unity in Christ with openness and diversity in practice and belief. We are identified with the Protestant “mainstream” and are widely involved in social and other universal concerns. Disciples have supported vigorously world and national programs of education, agricultural assistance, racial reconciliation, care of the developmentally disabled, and aid to victims of war and calamity.

     The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was founded on several basic principles that continue to guide the church today:

"No Creed but Christ"  

    These simple words express one of our most central convictions: Christ called us into being, and it is in Christ's name that we serve. Therefore, no human creeds or "tests of faith" can be used to exclude anyone from the church. Our one confession is that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and our Savior."

"Where the scriptures speak, we speak; where the scriptures are silent, we are silent."

     We are a people of the Bible. We read the scriptures weekly in worship, and we study them faithfully in Sunday School and in our private devotions. Emphasis is placed on each individual's responsibility to read, study, and know the scriptures for himself/herself. Yet we recognize that the scriptures can be interpreted in several ways. Rather than allow conflict to interfere with our community, we rely on this guiding principle.

"In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity."

     As with the interpretation of scripture, we realize that there are many differing opinions about beliefs and practices in the church. In the essentials of faith, we strive for unity. However, we affirm everyone's right and responsibility to express his/her faith in unique but accountable ways. In these nonessentials, we allow for diversity and liberty. Yet despite our slight differences in beliefs, we are still able to gather around the Lord's Table each week as one community, bound together through the love of Christ. In all things, we live in charity and love.

Beliefs of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

     •  The Oneness of the Church

     •  All Christians are called to be one in Christ and to seek opportunities for common witness and service.

     •  Freedom of Belief

     •  As Disciples, we are called together around two essentials of faith: a belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and that Christians are free to follow their conscience guided by the Bible, the Holy Spirit, study and prayer, and are expected to extend that freedom to others.

The Confession

     As members of the Christian Church, We confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and proclaim him Lord and Savior of the world. - The Preamble to The Design of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Baptism by Immersion

     In baptism, the old self-centered life is set aside, washed away, and a new life of trust in God begins. Although Disciples practice baptism by immersion, other baptism traditions are honored. Membership with a local church comes with baptism. Those who unite by transfer of membership from other congregations or denominations are accepted into full membership on the basis of their prior Christian commitment.

The Ministry of Believers

     Disciples are called together around one essential of faith: belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Believing in the oneness of the church, persons are free to follow their consciences guided by the Bible, the Holy Spirit, study and prayer, and are expected to extend that freedom to others. All Christians are called to be one in Christ and to seek opportunities for common witness and service. Both ordained ministers and lay persons lead in worship, service, and spiritual growth.  And above all that, Jesus Christ is the son of the Living God, who offers saving grace to all who seek it through His Son.

If you would like to know more about the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), our beliefs, and our national and global ministries, please see the following web sites: www.disciples.org and www.ccsw.org

The Chalice

     The symbol of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a simple red chalice bearing the Cross of St. Andrew across the left side of the bowl. Long associated with the Disciples of Christ as a symbol, the chalice points to the Disciples Of Christ centrality of the Lord's Supper in the life and worship of the Disciples who celebrate Communion each Sunday. The Cross of St. Andrew, national cross of Scotland, focuses attention on the Presbyterian roots of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The color red signifies vitality, spirit, and sacrifice. The Lord's Supper, or Communion, has become the central element of worship and is celebrated in weekly worship. It is open to all who are followers of Jesus Christ. The practice of Holy Communion is deep within the Disciples tradition.

     Disciples' observance of the Lord's Supper emanates from the upper room, where Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the living Christ is met and received in the sharing of the bread and the cup, representative of the body and blood of Jesus. The presence of the living Lord is affirmed and he is proclaimed to be the dominant power in our lives. - The Preamble to The Design of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

We are a local church. Structurally, we are independent of the general and regional units; however, we are in covenant with them spiritually and ethically and are financially bound to shared ministry and mission. Our local church is governed by an administrative board whose members have been elected by the congregation. The board meets monthly to handle the affairs of the congregation. This elected body is responsible for the programming and ministry of the congregation.

Our Story

OUR DENOMINATION  -  OUR LOCAL HISTORY

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Thomas Campbell - Alexander Campbell - Barton W. Stone

Copyright 2012 Okeene FCC