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.
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
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
"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.
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 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.