Apostolic christian church of america

The Apostolic Christian Church of America is a Christian denomination, based in the United States. Its website states, "The Apostolic Christian Church believes in the infallibility of the Bible, and it is founded on faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The purpose of the church is to teach the Gospel message of salvation, to nurture the believer, to preserve sound doctrine and to serve others in the likeness of Christ."[1]

The denomination consists of approximately 90 congregations in the United States, Japan, Mexico and Canada. The church also conducts worship services on many college campuses in several states. An organization called Apostolic Christian World Relief collects both financial and material aid for distribution to persons in need on a worldwide basis. There is growing mission work in Mexico, including development of an orphanage in Magdalena, Mexico.[2]

The church operates nursing homes for the elderly in several states, a Home for the Handicapped in Morton, Illinois with several residential facilities, Apostolic Christian Counseling & Family Services, and a Children's Home in Leo, Indiana.[3]

For information on the general history of the Apostolic Christian "family" of denominations (and links to other related denominations), see Apostolic Christian Church.

Statement of Faith[4]

  1. The Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God to man. The New Testament serves as the foundation of the doctrine of the Apostolic Christian Church. The authorized King James version is embraced.
    John 1:1, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21, Revelation 22:18-19
  2. There is one eternal God, the Creator of all things, who exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
    Genesis 1:1, Matthew 28:19, Colossians 1:16-17, Revelation 1:8
  3. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was begotten by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life.
    Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, Hebrews 1:1-8, Hebrews 7:26
  4. Man was created in God's image, but by man's transgression, he became separated from God. All who reach the age of accountability are responsible for their sinful deeds.
    Genesis 1:26, Genesis 3:1-24, John 3:3, Romans 3:10, Romans 3:12, Romans 3:23//
  5. Jesus Christ gave His life on Calvary's cross and His precious blood was shed as a ransom for all. He was buried, and He rose again the third day for our justification.
    Romans 4:25, Romans 5:8, I Corinthians 15:3-4, I Timothy 2:6, I Peter 1:18-19
  6. Both the saved and the lost will be resurrected: the saved unto eternal life and the lost unto eternal damnation.
    Daniel 12:2, John 3:16, John 5:28-29, 2 Peter 3:7-9, Revelations 20:12-15
  7. Faith in Christ's redemptive work on Calvary which results in repentance is the beginning of a true Christian life. The fruits of repentance are a humble and contrite heart, prayer, godly sorrow, confession to God in the presence of man, forsaking of all sin, restitution, and a forgiving spirit.
    Psalms 34:18, Proverbs 28:13, Matthew 3:6-8, Matthew 18:21-35, Luke 14:33, Luke 19:8, Acts 17:30, Acts 19:18, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Ephesians 2:8-9, Hebrews 11:6, 1 John 1:9
  8. A true conversion is evidenced by a spiritual rebirth, restoration of peace with God and man, the fruit of the Spirit, and obedience to God's word.
    1 Peter 1:23, Romans 5:1, Galatians 5:22-26, 1 John 2:3-6
  9. Following a testimony of faith and conversion, a covenant of faithfulness to God is made. Baptism of faith (by immersion) is administered in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
    Hebrews 10:16-17, Matthew 28:19, Romans 6:3-4, 1 Peter 3:21
  10. The believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. This is acknowledged and symbolized in a prayer of consecration (following baptism) by the laying on of hands of the elder. As a member of the body of Christ, the believer experiences spiritual growth and edification within the church.
    Romans 12:5, Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 4:15, 1 Timothy 4:14, Hebrews 6:1-2
  11. The New Testament Church appears in two distinct aspects:
  12. A fellowship of converted men and women (known as Brothers and Sisters), with Christ as Head, functioning in accord with New Testament teachings. Matthew 18:20, 1 Corinthians 1:10, Colossians 1:18
  13. The glorious Church, the Bride of Christ, including all saints of all ages, to be manifest fully at the return of Christ Jesus.
    1 Corinthians 15:52, Ephesians 5:27, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
  14. Brethren who are sound in faith, doctrine, and example serve as elders, ministers, and teachers. They are chosen from the congregation for the furtherance of the Gospel of the grace of God to all people.
  15. Matthew 28:19-20, Ephesians 4:11-12, 2 Timothy 2:2, Hebrews 13:7, Hebrews 13:17
  16. The bread and the fruit of the vine in Holy Communion symbolize the body and the blood of Christ. A closed communion is observed by the church following self-examination by the members.
    1 Corinthians 10:16, 1 Corinthians 11:17-32, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
  17. The Holy Greeting, a kiss of charity, is practiced among brethren as a symbol of love for one another.
    Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 1 Peter 5:14
  18. Sisters wear a veil or head covering during prayer and worship as a symbol of their submission according to God's order of Creation.
    1 Corinthians 11:1-16
  19. The believers live separated, sanctified lives and are not conformed to the world. Discipline of erring members is administered for their spiritual welfare and for the preservation of the church.
    Matthew 18:15-17, John 17:14-16, Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 5, Galatians 6:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:22, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, James 1:14-15, James 4:4, 1 Peter 1:14-15, 1 John 2:15-17
  20. Governmental authority is respected and obeyed. Members serve in a non-combatant status in the military. Oaths are not taken, but truth is affirmed. Matthew 22:21, Luke 3:14, Romans 13:1-10, 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Hebrews 12:14, James 5:12, 1 Peter 2:12-14
  21. Marriage is a lifelong union ordained of God in which a man and a woman of like mind, faith, and fellowship are united in the Lord in Holy Matrimony.
    Mark 10:9, 1 Corinthians 7:39, Ephesians 5:21-33, Colossians 3:18-19, Titus 2:2-6, 1 Peter 3:1, 1 Peter 3:7
  22. Although the gift of eternal life is a present possession of every true believer, it is possible for a believer of his own free will to forsake his faith, return to sin, and consequently forfeit eternal life with Christ.
    Matthew 25:24-30, John 3:36, John 15:1-7, Romans 6:16, Romans 8:35-39, 1 Corinthians 9:27, 1 Timothy 1:18-20, 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Peter 2:22, 1 John 5:11-13, Revelations 2:10, Revelations 3:5, Revelations 3:16, Revelations 3:21
  23. Built upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the church is a closely knit body of believers sharing each other's joys and sorrows in the true spirit of brotherhood. The church seeks to grow in the love of Christ and the understanding of His Word. The church extends a gracious invitation to all to come and worship in spirit and truth.
    Luke 24:47, John 4:24, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 1 Corinthians 12:25-26, Ephesians 4:16, Philippians 1:21
  24. Apostolic Christian Church Government

    Local

    1. Christ is the Head of the church, the chief Shepherd; and all authority flows from Him.
      Ephesians 1:22-23, Colossians 1:18-20, 1 Peter 5:4
    2. Direction is sought from the congregation for filling teaching and leadership offices either by vote or personal suggestion. The decision for appointment rests with the elder, a responsibility given to Timothy by Apostle Paul.
      2 Timothy 2:2
    3. The elder (bishop) and deacons are selected according to the directions and in light of the qualifications given in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:5-9. The congregation's sentiment for support of a ministering brother for such duties is obtained by ballot. The decisions for appointment of elders and ordained deacons rest with the national elder body.
      Acts 6:2-6
    4. Duties of elders and deacons
    5. An elder is the administrator of the spiritual matters of the church. He performs the rites (baptism, laying on of hands, communion, marriage), counsels converts and members, and performs all ministerial duties.
      Hebrews 13:7, Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 5:1-5
    6. A deacon serves as assistant to the elder and performs all ministerial duties.
      Acts 6:1-6
    7. Discipline of erring members is administered for their spiritual welfare and for the preservation of the church. The elder is responsible for administering discipline in the assembly of believers with their support and for their benefit.
      1 Corinthians 5, Galatians 6:1, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, 1 Timothy 5:20
    8. Denominational

      1. There are approximately 55 active elders who meet semiannually to handle national governance matters.
      2. Doctrinal authority rests with this elder body which depends on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the Word for guidance.
      3. There is no hierarchy within the elder body. Each is of equal authority and responsibility. The exception to this is a rotating committee of five elders elected by this body which handles correspondence, prepares the agenda and conducts orderly meetings, and responds to special local congregational needs.
      4. The elder body is responsible for the approval of elder and ordained deacon candidates and establishment of major church projects.
      5. Extensive communication and cooperation exists among the elders. There is frequent interchurch visiting and assistance with duties such as communion, hearing of testimonies, ordination services, matters of discipline, and many other important matters.

      Biblical Practices and Traditions

      • Members seek to obey the Bible, which they hold to be the infallible Word of God. Many of their practices, however, are not explicitly derived from the Bible. Rather, some of them are biblically inspired traditions derived from the writings of Froehlich (who was strongly influenced by early church writers such as Tertullian) and some are past practices found to be beneficial. These traditions are passed from one generation to the next and are held in high esteem, but they are never meant to approach the level of Biblical commandments. Traditions within the Apostolic Christian Church are said to help encourage believers in their commitment to serving the Lord, help to knit generations together, and provide close harmony among the various congregations.
      • Holy Communion is served typically once, or possibly multiple times, during the year for church members, often (but not necessarily) near Easter. The Holy Communion service is a closed service, with only members present. Holy Communion is typically preceded by a period, typically around a month, of self-examination and restitution.
      • The Holy Kiss is the greeting used in Apostolic Christian churches, based on the epistles of Paul and the general epistle of 1 Peter.
      • When single members seek a marriage partner, they are expected to do that within the denomination so that they will be equally yoked. Faith marriage is practiced (seeking the Lord's direction regarding a spouse). Dating and courtship are discouraged.
      • When there was a Selective Service draft, church members, and sometimes friends (unconverted people, often family members, who attend regularly), served in a non-combatant status in the military.
      • The taking and swearing of an oath is strongly discouraged, based on Christ's teachings. An affirmation may be used as an alternative in legal, and other, matters.
      • Most congregations have separated seating for men and women, depending on local custom and the occasion.
      • Business attire is expected during worship services. Men wear suits and ties to church. Women wear dresses or skirts and are encouraged to be modestly dressed, including not wearing jewellery. The use of cosmetics is discouraged.
      • Male members are expected to be clean-shaven in most congregations.
      • Different congregations typically exchange "greetings" between each other and their members, either in person or at-large after the worship service when church announcements are shared to the congregation.
      • Church members are encouraged to use King James English when praying and referring to God (using "Thee" and "Thou" rather than "you").

      Church Discipline

      Members are said to be disciplined out of love, and since the church believes some sins are worse than others, the degree of discipline varies on the degree of sin. If the member commits a sin unto death, as the Apostolic Christian Church believes to be laid out by the Bible, he or she will be excommunicated. Although not completely shunned, the individual will no longer be considered a member of the ACCA. Common to popular misconception, ACCA members can be disciplined because of sin or because of a lack of adherence to traditions, though in practice, rarely has the latter reason ever been used as a basis of discipline.

      Conversion

      The conversion experienced for each member varies in timing and detail, but all include repentance for one's sins, making restitution, confessing sins to God while in the presence of man (an elder of the church), and finding peace with God. The word "convert" is used throughout the denomination to describe anyone who begins repentance but has not yet been baptized into the church. It does not imply conversion from another denomination or religion, but from the carnal to the spiritual state. Once converts "receive peace from God," this is announced to the church and a baptism date is set. Converts give a testimony before the members of the church prior to the public baptism service, telling the story of their personal conversion experience. This sharing, commonly referred to as a "testimony" or "proving", typically takes place the night before the baptism and is a closed member meeting. Because baptism is identified with a "death to sin" in Romans 6 and other New Testament writings, congregational recognition of the convert's repentance and death to sin is desired prior to baptism. The baptism service is open for anyone to attend and is performed before the entire congregation. Before the baptism takes place the convert makes a covenant with God in the presence of the entire congregation. Once the covenant is made, the convert is fully immersed in water (unless they are physically unable to do so). After the baptism service, there is a laying on of hands by one or more elders and an accompanying consecration prayer. This laying on of hands and prayer of consecration is said to place the seal the Holy Spirit on the life of the newly baptized. If considering converting to the Apostolic Christian Church of America, it is imperative that you are instructed well before-hand and know what to expect.

      Worship

      • The King James Version of the Bible is the English translation used for church services in English speaking congregations.
      • Worship services are held on Sunday while most congregations also conduct additional mid-week services.
      • Sunday services are typically as follows:
        • Public worship services in the morning and afternoon, usually of the following format:
          • The congregation sings several songs before the service starts
          • A minister opens to a random Old Testament passage, and sometimes discusses it briefly
          • The minister selects a hymn to be sung by the congregation, and subsequently leads the congregation in prayer
          • The minister opens to a random passage in the New Testament - this passage serves as the basis of most of the sermon, although the Old Testament passage (or fore-reading) is often referred to as well
          • A second minister provides some closing or summarizing thoughts and either selects a closing hymn or asks the congregation to suggest one
          • A closing prayer is usually said by someone in the congregation
        • A light meal is generally served between the morning and afternoon services
      • Midweek services consist of a single service, generally of the same format as the Sunday services
      • Some congregations conduct Bible studies and classes as part of the routine church schedule. In addition, some congregations have outside study groups and classes among members. However, these practices have varying degrees of acceptance and implementation within the various local congregations.
      • Female members are expected to wear a Christian headcovering during prayer and worship. Wearing of a head covering when praying outside of church, when with other believers, and at other times is encouraged to varying degrees among the congregations, but the Biblical basis is somewhat universally recognized.
      • Singing in church is a cappella in four-part harmony
      • The Zion's Harp is the primary hymnal used during worship services. The Zion's Harp was assembled in the 19th century by a European elder and includes hymns not generally used in other American denominations.
      • The other hymnal typically used in church services is Hymns of Zion, or the combined hymnal which includes both the Hymns of Zion and Tabernacle Hymns. Both include arrangements and lyrics more commonly used in other denominations, but also includes several written by members of the American congregations. These books was originally used as Sunday-School hymnals, but gained popularity with the church as a whole.
      • The church in Leo, Indiana uses the Gospel Hymns which has a greater selection of arrangements similar to those of the Hymns of Zion.
      • The church also recently published another hymnal for Sunday School and home use, the Children's Harp. The Children's Harp is a hymnal with songs that younger children would be able to sing.

      Marriage Tradition

      • The Apostolic Christian Church marriage tradition heavily involves the church.
      • The marriage process for members of the ACCA begins when a male member feels that God has led him to be married. He then asks God to reveal whom he should marry.
      • When God reveals this, He goes to his Elder. After prayer and consideration, the Elder then informs the female member of the proposal. (If the woman is from another congregation, the male's Elder informs the Elder of the woman's congregation, who then tells the woman of the proposal.) The woman then gives the proposal prayer and consideration.
      • When the woman receives an answer from God, she relays the answer to her elder, who relays it to the man. If the answer is "No", nothing more becomes of the matter and it remains confidential. If the answer is "Yes", the man and woman are free to tell their immediate family and close friends. However, tradition is to tell no one else until the marriage is announced during the regular Sunday Morning Announcements.
      • Marriage is encouraged to take place soon (typically within four months) after it is announced. The man and woman are discouraged from spending time alone until after the marriage ceremony, which takes the place of a Sunday afternoon service.

      Leadership

      Elders

      • Elders of local congregations are ordained by the Elders of the other congregations, usually after a ballot is taken from the local congregation. Elders are usually selected from the current ministers serving in the local church. Elders perform both religious rites and also conduct ministerial duties.
      • Congregations who do not have a locally residing elder are assigned a "Counseling Elder" by the national elder body. Day to day business in these congregations is handled by a Deacon or "Lead Minister", depending on the specific situation of each congregation.
      • The Elders of each congregation serve as equal members within the collective "Elder Body" of all elders who make decisions regarding the doctrine of the denomination.

      Deacons and Ministers

      • Ministers' duties include preaching in their home congregations and in other congregations.
      • Ministers (including elders and deacons) do not pursue seminary or other education in preparation for the ministry and serve without compensation.
      • A Minister who is ordained as a deacon may assist the local or counseling elder with meeting with new converts, performing baptisms, and other duties usually carried out by the elder alone. The ordained deacon only carries out these duties in his home congregation. Most congregations do not have a deacon, rather they are ordained mostly in larger congregations where the elder needs assistance or in smaller congregations where there is no local elder.

      Selection of Elders, Deacons, and Ministers

      • As a need arises, whether through retirement of a current elder, minister or deacon or through congregational growth, a committee of elders is convened to oversee the selection.
      • Although it is not a set rule, the typical progression is from Minister to Deacon (if applicable) then to Elder.
      • After prayer and consideration, the committee addresses the membership of the local congregation in a closed member meeting. The entire congregation will be asked to give the issue prayer and consideration.
      • After a time of prayer and consideration, the membership of the local congregation will be given opportunity to turn in the name of the person they feel should be given the responsibility in question. If two or three names capture a sizable number of the votes, the elder committee may choose to ask the membership cast ballots again within the confines of those choices.
      • If no clear choice emerges, the elder committee may choose to table the issue for a time. However, balloting is for advisory purposes only, ballots are destroyed promptly after they are counted and the elder committee has the final responsibility for the appointment.
      • After a candidate for elder or ordained deacon is selected, he must be interviewed by the elder body at a church conference, typically held semi-annually in February and August.
      • Upon confirmation, Ministers may assume their role after a time of prayer and meditation. Elders, Deacons, and Ministers have their authorities given to them in a special Ordination Ceremony held in their home congregations.

      Locations

      Spread throughout the world, churches can be found in many countries.

      • United States of America, Canada, Mexico, and Japan.
      • Related congregations (not under the same denominational governance) in Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Ukraine.

      Along with missionary work, the church also operates several nursing homes, schools, charities and orphanages.

      External links

      • Apostolic Christian Church of America
      • Apostolic Christian World Relief
      • Apostolic Christian Mission Committee
      • Apostolic Christian Publications
      • Apostolic Christian Counseling & Family Services
      • Casa Vida y Esperanza
      • Gateway Woods Apostolic Christian Children's Home
      • Apostolic Christian Home for the Handicapped

      Congregation Websites

      • Arizona (Phoenix, Prescott, Tucson)
      • Bloomington-Normal, Illinois
      • Bluffton, Indiana
      • Bluffton North, Indiana
      • Detroit (Livonia), Michigan
      • Fairbury, Illinois
      • Forrest, Illinois
      • Fort Myers, Florida
      • Francesville, Indiana
      • Goodfield, Illinois
      • Gridley, Illinois
      • Leo, Indiana
      • Morton, Illinois
      • Peoria, Illinois
      • Princeville, Illinois
      • Tremont, Illinois
      • West Lafayette, Indiana

      References

      1. ^ http://apostolicchristian.org/
      2. ^ http://apostolicchristian.org/about.php
      3. ^ http://apostolicchristian.org/about.php
      4. ^ http://apostolicchristian.org/faith_statement.php
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