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Ethics and Community

Community Organization

The basic unit of the church is the independent local congregation, and the church as a whole is organized under a representative government called the "three manifestations," local, regional, and general.


Along with many other Protestant churches, the Disciples believe in the priesthood of all believers. Lay elders preside over communion, and the church also ordains ministers to provide spiritual care for its members.

Principles of Moral Thought and Action

The most powerful guiding principles for the Disciples include a desire for Christian unity, a return to the original apostolic faith and life as seen in the New Testament, and a rejection of creeds or doctrines as tests of faith.

Vision for Society

The original and ongoing hope of the Disciples is the restoration of wholeness to the community and to the world, and this informs the passion of the church for social and economic justice.

Gender and Sexuality

The Disciples were early to promote women to leadership roles, ordaining their first female pastor in 1888. Recently Disciples have begun adopting an open and affirming stance regarding sexuality, with some speaking in favor of gay marriage.