The Congregational Church began as an illegal house church in England in 1607, and was forced into exile. The Congregationalists referred to as Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower to Plymouth, now Massachusetts. From that early beginning they have grown to over 2 million adherents, USA.
Each Congregational Church is a community of faithful individuals. Each church operates autonomously, acknowledging only Christ as its head, and respecting the relationships of other congregations. Fellowship and cooperation are at the heart of Congregationalism.
The Congregational Church views Scripture as the authoritative witness to the Word of God that was living in Jesus, rather than viewing Scripture as the unerring Word of God. The Bible and Creeds are seen as testimonies of faith. The standard protestant canon is accepted.
They believe that God is the Eternal Spirit who calls the worlds into being and is made known in the man Jesus. They believe that Jesus is the crucified and risen Savior and Lord, in whom we are reconciled to God. (The deity and virgin birth are widely ignored or rejected, except with the conservatives.)
They believe that God promises forgiveness and grace to save those who trust Him and accept his call to serve the whole human family. Those who trust in God and live as Jesus’ disciples are promised eternal life in God’s kingdom.
The Congregational Church is the people of God living as Jesus’ disciples by serving humanity as agents of God’s reconciling love. Each local church governs itself, and each chooses their own ministers. Congregations practice either infant baptism or believer’s baptism. Sacraments are symbols of spiritual realities.
The United Church of Christ is not part of the “Churches of Christ” but was formed in 1957 as the union of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, a liberal Protestant body. The United Church of Christ, UCC, is one of the most theologically liberal denominations in the USA. Individual ministers and churches vary widely in belief. The UCC ordains openly homosexual men and women to ministry.
The United Church of Christ is staunchly liberal. The National Assn. of Congregational Christian Churches is the mainline body. The Conservative Congregational Christian Conference is Evangelical.
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