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Congregation switches to Anabaptist.

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Ben W, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. Ben W

    Ben W Active Member
    Site Supporter

    Sep 16, 2002
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    Congregation embraces Anabaptism

    By Rich Preheim
    For Mennonite Weekly Review

    DES MOINES, Iowa — Every Sunday before Christ Community Church gathers for worship in a rented Presbyterian meetinghouse, someone takes down the U.S. flag in the front of the sanctuary.

    “We just don’t feel it’s an appropriate symbol,” said Chad Mason, the congregation’s ministry coordinator for the past four years. “We love our country, but not on our country’s own terms.”

    For Christ Community, which joined Mennonite Church USA this past summer, the removal of a symbol of the United States also symbolizes the congregation’s transformation from God-and-country evangelicalism to an identity as strangers and aliens in this world.

    “The journey was discovering the wider body of Christ, discovering that there are better expressions of Christianity equipped to speak to the moment we live in,” said Mason, who was raised Southern Baptist.

    It’s also a journey that affects the congregation’s new Mennonite sisters and brothers.

    “For the whole conference, there’s a sense of excitement, enthusiasm,” said Ed Kauffman, conference minister for Central Plains Conference, of which Christ Community is a member.

    “In a climate where we have congregations who aren’t sure they want to be Mennonite, it’s a real affirmation. It was sort of a shock to hear that this group was interested in us, particularly when I heard their history.”

    Christ Community began in 1990 after a schism in First Federated Church, a large, nondenominational congregation.

    “Back then [it was] a megachurch for Des Moines, Iowa,” Mason said.

    Its roots were in fundamentalism and revivalism, its worship style was seeker-sensitive, and a U.S. flag was displayed at the front of the church. First Federated still holds Fourth of July celebrations, complete with fireworks.

    The split, however, was not over any theological or doctrinal issues. Rather, disagreement arose over a building project.

    Among those who left First Federated were several members of the pastoral staff, including current Christ Community lead pastor Kent McDougal.

    They held their first worship service on Easter Sunday 1990, drawing about 600 people. The new congregation soon settled into a stable size of 400.

    But changes came in mid-decade, affecting the congregational beliefs, worship and, ultimately, size.
    Like the 16th-century Anabaptists, whose descendants they eventually joined, McDougal and other leaders started to be influenced by the early church, which was severely persecuted for following Christ.

    That meant, he said, a shift from “triumphalist, Americanized Christianity” to discipleship.

    Continued - http://www.mennoweekly.org/NOVEMBER/11-15-04/IOWA11-15.html