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  • Article 9. The Church of Jesus – Mennonite Church USA
    constant need of repentance The church s identity as God s people of faith is sustained and renewed as members gather regularly for worship Here the church celebrates God s boundless grace reaffirms its loyalty to God above all else and seeks to discern God s will The church is the household or family of God 4 Commitment to one another is shown in loving one another as God loves in sharing material and spiritual resources in exercising mutual care and discipline and in showing hospitality to all 5 The church welcomes all people who join themselves to Christ to become part of the family of God 6 We believe that the church as the body of Christ is the visible manifestation of Jesus Christ The church is called to live and minister as Christ lived and ministered in the world As many members belong to one body so all believers have been baptized in one Spirit into the one body of Christ There are varieties of gifts and ministries in the church all given for the common good Believers are to love each other and to grow toward the likeness of Christ who is the head of the church The church exists as a community of believers in the local congregation as a community of congregations and as the worldwide community of faith Eph 4 13 15 Acts 1 8 2 1 11 Acts 11 1 18 1 Cor 12 12 13 Gal 3 26 28 Mark 3 33 35 Eph 2 19 Deut 10 19 Rom 12 13 Heb 13 2 John 20 21 Matt 28 18 20 Matt 57 Commentary New Testament references to the church as God s people 1 Pet 2 10 show that the early church depended on the Old Testament for much of its self understanding Exod 7 6 2 Sam 7 24 As in Old Testament times the New Testament people of God see themselves as a covenant community relying on God s promise of steadfast love and sustaining mercy They are a chosen race a holy nation God s own people 1 Pet 2 9 see Exod 19 6 The word church is most often a translation of the Hebrew qahal or the Greek ekklesia meaning assembly But the church is a new kind of assembly Its identity is not rooted in a common biological heritage or tied to one geographical location The church is made up of people from many nations and ethnic backgrounds Thus the church is a new social and political reality described in this article with terms like society assembly household of God and community of disciples Mennonite emphasis on voluntary church membership together with the modern focus on human potential may tempt us to regard the church merely as a product of human effort But the church is more than a human organization The church depends on God for its very being and life Eph 3 20 21 Its foundation is Jesus Christ 1 Cor 3

    Original URL path: http://mennoniteusa.org/confession-of-faith/the-church-of-jesus/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Article 10. The Church in Mission – Mennonite Church USA
    the church to direct its mission to people from all nations and ethnic backgrounds Jesus commissioned his disciples to be his witnesses in Jerusalem in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth 9 The apostle Paul preached to the Gentile nations The church today is also called to witness to people of every culture ethnicity or nationality The mission of the church does not require the protection of any nation or empire Christians are strangers and aliens within all cultures Yet the church itself is God s nation encompassing people who have come from every tribe and nation Indeed its mission is to reconcile differing groups creating one new humanity10 and providing a preview of that day when all the nations shall stream to the mountain of the Lord and be at peace 11 1 Acts 1 8 Matt 28 19 20 2 Mark 1 15 3 John 20 21 22 Acts 10 36 4 Matt 5 13 16 Isa 42 6 5 Mark 6 13 James 5 14 15 6 2 Cor 5 14 7 Acts 2 41 47 8 Acts 10 15 9 Acts 1 8 10 Eph 2 15 16 11 Isa 2 2 4 Commentary Christ has commissioned the church to continue his mission Missionaries and others with the gift of evangelism do not function independently but as representatives of Christ and the church The commissions by Jesus to his disciples recorded in Matt 28 19 20 Mark 16 15 18 Luke 24 45 49 John 20 21 22 and Acts 1 8 are given through the apostles to the community as a whole The mission of the church involves both word and deed evangelism and service proclaiming Christ s message and demonstrating by the life of the church the nature of the new creation in Christ Neither word alone nor deed alone is sufficient for mission Word explains deed and deed authenticates word In the ministry of Jesus healing in body and in spirit and salvation are closely related The same Greek word is used in the New Testament for healing and salvation Jesus words both to those whose sins were forgiven and to those who were healed were Your faith has saved you made you well go in peace Compare Luke 7 50 and 8 48 where the same Greek words are used but the NIV and NRSV use different English words The church continues Jesus ministry of healing The church may be a channel for healing through the service of prayer and anointing with oil Mission includes peace and evangelism Peace is an integral part of the content of the church s message Acts 10 36 Eph 2 17 6 15 Peace also describes the context of evangelism John 20 21 22 The power of gospel is so strong and God s mercy is so wide that it is possible for any person to repent and be saved No enemy is so evil as to be beyond God s

    Original URL path: http://mennoniteusa.org/confession-of-faith/the-church-in-mission/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Article 11. Baptism – Mennonite Church USA
    life through the shedding of his blood for others as a baptism 3 He also spoke about his disciples suffering and death as a baptism 4 Those who accept water baptism commit themselves to follow Jesus in giving their lives for others in loving their enemies and in renouncing violence even when it means their own suffering or death Christian baptism is for those who confess their sins repent accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and commit themselves to follow Christ in obedience as members of his body both giving and receiving care and counsel in the church Baptism is for those who are of the age of accountability and who freely request baptism on the basis of their response to Jesus Christ in faith 5 Rom 6 1 4 Acts 2 38 39 Matt 28 19 Luke 12 50 1 John 5 7 8 Mark 10 38 Matt 28 19 20 John 4 1 Acts 2 38 Gal 3 27 Commentary Some churches refer to baptism and the Lord s Supper as symbols sacraments or ordinances In this confession of faith these ceremonies are called signs a biblical term rich in meanings Sign is first of all an act of God signs and wonders in Egypt Exod 10 1 Num 14 11 signs to prophets Isa 7 14 55 13 and Jesus performance of signs John 2 11 12 37 20 30 John 2 18 22 sees Jesus death and resurrection as a sign A sign is not only an act of God but a human action as well eating unleavened bread at Passover Exod 13 9 binding of the commandments to oneself Deut 6 8 keeping of the Sabbath Exod 31 13 Ezek 20 20 Likewise baptism is a sign representing both God s action in delivering us from sin and death and the action of the one who is baptized who pledges to God to follow Jesus Christ within the context of Christ s body the church First John 5 7 8 identifies three aspects of baptism the Spirit and the water and the blood This passage refers first of all to Jesus baptism But the New Testament also says that believers are to identify with Jesus The baptism of the Holy Spirit According to the New Testament water baptism and baptism with the Spirit are closely connected though not always in the same way The Holy Spirit rested on Jesus at the time of his baptism John 1 33 In Acts believers received the Holy Spirit before with or after water baptism The baptism of water Baptism has its roots in the Old Testament practice of ceremonially washing what had become unclean through disease sin or other cause Lev 14 1 9 16 24 30 17 15 16 Gentiles were initiated into the covenant people with proselyte baptism Christian water baptism signifies the cleansing of the person from sin and incorporation into the new community of faith The church may baptize by pouring immersion or

    Original URL path: http://mennoniteusa.org/confession-of-faith/baptism/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Article 12. The Lord’s Supper – Mennonite Church USA
    we renew our baptismal covenant with God and with each other and recognize our unity with all believers everywhere in all times All are invited to the Lord s table who have been baptized into the community of faith are living at peace with God and with their brothers and sisters in the faith and are willing to be accountable in their congregation Celebrating the Lord s Supper in this manner the church looks forward in joy and hope to the feast of the redeemed with Christ in the age to come 4 1 Cor 11 26 Jer 31 31 34 1 Cor 11 24 25 1 Cor 10 16 Luke 22 15 20 28 30 Commentary On the night that he was betrayed Jesus and his disciples gathered to eat the Passover meal This annual celebration called to remembrance God s great act of delivering the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt Exod 12 Jesus Last Supper signaled that he was leading his followers in a new exodus out of bondage and into salvation Through Jesus death and resurrection God has rescued believers from sin and evil and brought them into a new covenant The new people of God created through this covenant is continuous with the people of the old covenant whom God rescued from bondage in Egypt The people of the new covenant includes all who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior The bread of the Lord s Supper is a sign of Christ s body and the cup is a sign of the new covenant in his blood Luke 22 19 20 As Christians eat the bread and drink the cup they experience Christ s presence in their midst The Lord s Supper both represents Christ and is a way in which Christ is present again re present in the body of believers In this meal the church renews its covenant to be the body of Christ in the world and to live the life of Christ on behalf of others The communion meal is a sign of the unity of believers with one another as the church 1 Cor 10 17 As branches are part of the vine so believers are to be united with each other in Christ Believers are to come to the Lord s table in a worthy manner without factions among them 1 Cor 11 17 22 27 34 Churches are encouraged to find ways to promote reconciliation and to prepare members for communion The believers covenant with one another includes the pledge of love for brothers and sisters of mutual accountability of confession and forgiveness of sins and of the sharing of material and spiritual resources as there is need Such love and sharing reaches around the world as the church recognizes its global unity This joyful yet solemn fellowship in the Lord s Supper is a foretaste of the fuller joy to come when all believers will feast with Christ in the reign of God Rev

    Original URL path: http://mennoniteusa.org/confession-of-faith/the-lords-supper/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Article 13. Foot Washing – Mennonite Church USA
    live in the world Believers who wash each other s feet show that they share in the body of Christ 2 They thus acknowledge their frequent need of cleansing renew their willingness to let go of pride and worldly power and offer their lives in humble service and sacrificial love 3 John 13 14 15 John 13 8 Matt 20 20 28 Mark 9 30 37 Luke 22 25 27 Commentary Foot washing was common in first century Palestine where people wore sandals to walk the dusty roads Normally people washed their own feet Occasionally a disciple would wash the feet of a teacher as an act of extraordinary devotion see John 12 1 8 No one would have expected Jesus the master to wash his disciples feet John 13 1 30 recounts Jesus washing his disciples feet The act is followed by a commentary 13 31 17 26 which explains what it meant for Jesus to love his own who were in the world unto the end 13 1 even those who would betray or deny him His love reached all the way to laying down his life for them 15 13 He laid aside the privileges of power although the Father had given all things into his hands 13 3 He showed the true power that comes through servanthood He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even death on a cross Therefore God also highly exalted him Phil 2 8 9 Those who follow Jesus are likewise called to let go of privilege and pride in order to love others more fully even those who are hard to love By this life of love they show that they are cleansed and a part of Christ John 13 8 10 Washing one another s feet

    Original URL path: http://mennoniteusa.org/confession-of-faith/foot-washing/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Article 14. Discipline in the Church – Mennonite Church USA
    within a broader circle This usually includes a pastor or congregational leader If necessary the matter may finally be brought to the congregation A brother or sister who repents is to be forgiven and encouraged in making the needed change If the erring member persists in sin without repentance and rejects even the admonition of the congregation membership may be suspended Suspension of membership is the recognition that persons have separated themselves from the body of Christ 3 When this occurs the church continues to pray for them and seeks to restore them to its fellowship 4 We acknowledge that discipline rightly understood and practiced undergirds the integrity of the church s witness in word and deed Persistent and uncorrected false teaching and sinful conduct among Christians undermine the proclamation and credibility of the gospel in the world 5 As a sign of forgiveness and transforming grace discipline exemplifies the message of forgiveness and new life in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit As a means of strengthening good teaching and sustaining moral conduct it helps to build faithfulness in understanding and practice Matt 18 15 22 John 20 21 23 Gal 6 1 2 Deut 19 15 Eph 4 15 Matt 18 15 1 Cor 5 3 5 2 Cor 2 5 11 Matt 5 14 18 Rom 2 21ff Commentary Anabaptists and Mennonites in sixteenth century Europe saw discipline as vital for pastoral care and for the well being of the church Indeed they considered discipline to be as important for church renewal as believers baptism and participation in the Lord s Supper Mennonites have traditionally emphasized church discipline Discipline has sometimes been neglected in many Mennonite congregations in part because of some misuses in part because of cultural and social influences Both the misuse and the neglect of discipline undermine the church s life and witness Both misuse and neglect work against the important correcting renewing and redemptive purposes of church discipline in pastoral care nurture and congregational life In some church traditions responsibility for church discipline has been limited to particular ministerial offices such as pastor or bishop From a Mennonite perspective discipline is related first of all to the mutual care of members for one another According to the rule of Christ Matt 18 15 18 all believers are to offer mutual encouragement correction and forgiveness to each other For that reason it is good to include a promise to give and receive counsel when persons are received into church membership Pastors and other church leaders have a special responsibility to give guidance and to carry out discipline in the life of the church Acts 20 28 31 Tit 1 5 11 1 Pet 5 1 4 Heb 13 17 They are to exercise their responsibility lovingly in gentleness of spirit and without partiality Pastors and other church leaders who move away from faithful discipleship or are overtaken by sin are not exempt from discipline in the church Because of their representative ministries

    Original URL path: http://mennoniteusa.org/confession-of-faith/discipline-in-the-church/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Article 15. Ministry and Leadership – Mennonite Church USA
    as evangelists missionaries teachers conference ministers and overseers 4 The character and reputation of leaders is to be above reproach Following the example of Christ persons so appointed preach and teach with authority interpret the Scriptures and the faith diligently speak divine truth with boldness equip the saints relate with compassion to the needy and lead the congregation in faithful living so that the church may be built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God 5 The confirmation of the call to a particular ministry is a sign of mutual accountability between the church and its chosen representative A time of discernment may be followed by ordination or a similar act accompanied by laying on of hands 6 This act symbolizes the person s responsibility as a servant of the Word The congregation and the wider church or conference share in this act as an indication of their blessing and support and as a reminder of the person s accountability before God and the church and of the church s responsibility toward the person Matt 25 31 40 1 Cor 12 31 13 13 Eph 4 7 Rom 12 4 6 1 Pet 4 10 11 Eph 4 15 16 Luke 10 1 37 Eph 4 11 13 1 Cor 12 28 Rom 12 6 8 1 Tim 3 1 13 Tit 1 5 9 Rom 10 14 15 Matt 7 29 Titus 2 15 1 Tim 4 13 Jer 1 4 10 2 Tim 4 1 3 Eph 4 11 13 Phil 2 1 4 Eph 2 22 1 Tim 5 22 Exod 29 35 Commentary The Anabaptists called persons to special roles of spiritual leadership in the church The study of the Bible the need for order and the recognition of giftedness led them to this practice The purpose of such chosen leaders was not to relieve the other believers of responsibility but to represent Christ and the church in the congregation and on the church s behalf in the world The Anabaptists did not use the concept of the priesthood of all believers to downplay the need for spiritual leaders with special roles in the church Menno Simons mentioned the priesthood of all believers to encourage all believers as priests to lead a holy life in order to be witnesses to the God who called them from darkness to light 1 Pet 2 9 In the New Testament the earliest references to leadership ministries mention disciples and apostles Ephesians 4 11 mentions a fivefold ministry of apostles prophets evangelists pastors and teachers In 1 Timothy 3 bishops and deacons are named We also see a threefold pattern emerging in the New Testament bishops elders and deacons In the Mennonite tradition this threefold pattern can be found as well There have also been variations such as sending out evangelists and missionaries The church has adapted its leadership patterns from time to time and should have the freedom to continue to do so including the recognition of evangelists

    Original URL path: http://mennoniteusa.org/confession-of-faith/ministry-and-leadership/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Article 16. Church Order and Unity – Mennonite Church USA
    God and appreciation for one another According to the example of the apostolic church the local congregation seeks the counsel of the wider church in important matters relating to faith and life and they work together in their common mission 8 Decisions made at larger assemblies and conferences are confirmed by constituent groups 9 and local ministries are encouraged and supported by the wider gatherings Authority and responsibility are delegated by common and voluntary agreement so that the churches hold each other accountable to Christ and to one another on all levels of church life 1 Eph 2 21 22 2 1 Cor 3 16 17 3 1 Pet 2 5 4 Eph 2 20 5 Ps 133 1 1 Cor 14 33 Eph 4 3 6 Eph 4 7 12 16 7 John 17 20 24 8 Acts 15 1 21 9 Acts 11 18 Commentary Scripture does not prescribe one specific church polity or government At the same time guidelines can be gleaned from both the Old and New Testaments The priesthood and the temple in Israel s religious life are reminders of the importance of order and also of the concern for visible worship that upholds justice kindness and humility Lev 8 10 1 Kings 6 The apostle Paul asked the church to do all things decently and in order to build up the body of Christ 1 Cor 14 26 40 The New Testament stresses that the church be organized in a way that encourages participation of all members and the use of their spiritual gifts for worship for decision making for teaching and learning for mutual care and for furthering God s mission in the world The Spirit of Christ leads the church in adapting its organization to the needs of its time and place Decision making by consensus is a way of coming to unity in the church see Acts 15 22 Consensus means that the church has together sought for the unity of the Spirit The church listens carefully to all voices majority and minority Consensus is reached when the church has come to one mind on the matter or when those who dissent have indicated that they do not wish to stand in the way of a group decision Consensus does not necessarily mean complete unanimity The church is the assembly of the people of God The local congregation which meets frequently is the church Larger conference groups which assemble less often are also the church 1 Thess 1 1 1 Pet 1 1 Church membership involves commitment to a local congregation as well as to a larger church family which may have more than one level of conference affiliation More broadly we are united through our common Lord to the universal church which includes believers in every place and time We appreciate this wider family of believers and seek to nurture appropriate relationships with them Mennonite church structures have upheld the centrality of the church as a community of believers Some

    Original URL path: http://mennoniteusa.org/confession-of-faith/church-order-and-unity/ (2016-02-16)
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