DOCTRINES AND DISCIPLINE
MENNONITE BRETHREN IN CHRIST.
A Prophet shall the Lord your God
raise up into you of your brethren,
like unto me; Him shall ye hear in
all things whatsoever He shall say
unto youActs 3:22
MENNONITE BRETHREN IN CHRIST PUB. SOC'Y.
That as a church organization it is meet and right, as well as necessary to have a written discipline, for the sake of convenience and harmony amongst the members of the church in reference to doctrine as well as church government, we are fully decided in our minds; although we are conscious that many will raise objections against a discipline, or any form of government, only as we find them in God's Word. Notwithstanding, we doubt very much, whether there be at the present day a church organization, which has not a form of church discipline or code of laws, rules, and regulations in reference to church government, church doctrine and peculiar faith, either written or verbal; and hence, we would be at a loss to know (if any wrong were connected with having a discipline at all) wherein a just cause might be attributed against the one over the other. The only difference observable by us, between a written and verbal discipline, is the decided reference of the former over the latter, for the reasons already assigned, in connection with many others, which might be given; but for the sake of brevity, we wish to say, that we have no scruples in presenting to the public, these, our views in reference to God's Word, as we understand it. Hence we wish to say, kindly, to all into whose hands it may fall, "Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good." If there is anything therein contained, which is not in harmony with the sacred teachings of the Bible, receive it not; if it is God's truth then it is as sacred and binding upon you, as though you read it from the sacred page, or heard it sounded from the pulpit. That its principles be strictly adhered to, and carried out to the honor and glory of God, and not alone professed on the part of Christian professors, is the greatest care and desire of those whose sentiments are herein expressed as a church organization.
The confession of faith, and the discipline of the MENNONITE BRETHREN IN CHRIST were originally composed from the Holy Scriptures, and through the aid of disciplines of other Christian denominations, by a committee, appointed for that purpose by the General Conference.
ORIGIN OF THE MENNONITE BRETHREN IN CHRIST.
ORIGIN OF THE REFORMED MENNONITES.
Through the direction of God and the instrumentality of the Holy Ghost, a number of ministers of the Mennonite Church were brought to realize and deeply feel the responsibility weighing upon them, as the ambassadors for Christ, and were from time to time seriously impressed with convictions that greater and more earnest efforts should be put forth to promote the glory of God and build up his Zion on earth, by extending the borders of the Church, and practically carrying out the principles of Christianity.
In order to accomplish this more fully, they were inclined to believe that protracted, prayer and fellowship meetings were essential means thereto, which were not practiced in the church at that time.
In the year 1869, December, one of the ministers of the Canada conference, who hitherto had not experienced a change of heart, was happily converted to God through Christ, and at once introduced these means of grace above referred to, on his field of labor. In taking this step he incurred upon himself the displeasure and disapproval of the bishops generally. But it was the means resulting in a glorious revival of the Christian religion, and in the conversion of many precious souls, throughout the Church, both in Canada and in the United States, which consequently resulted in an excommunication of all who believed in this way, from Church fellowship.
On the 15th day of May, 1874, a conference was called at Eby's meeting house Berlin, Ontario, at which place such that believed in present salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and those who had experienced the pardon of their sins, and had the evidence of their acceptance with Christ, formed themselves into a Church organization, and as a name of distinction, adopted REFORMED MENNONITES.
ORIGIN OF THE UNITED MENNONITES.
The following year 1875 it became evident that the New Mennonites apparently manifested a desire to become one with the Reformed Mennonites, inasmuch as no material difference existed between the two branches, who also, from similar circumstances, had formed into a separate body a number of years previous. At a special meeting held at the Bloomingdale meeting house, Waterloo county, Ontario, the 23rd day of March, 1875, the two branches formed into one society, by uniting with each other into one body, and adopted the name UNITED MENNONITES.
Names of Elders.
Solomon Eby, Samuel Sherk,
John Krupp, Peter Geiger,
Daniel Brenneman, John McNalIy,
John Steckley, John Baer,
Henry Wismer, Noah Detweiler,
Names of Probationers.
Joseph Raymer, Menno Bowman,
Names of Deacons.
William Hembling, Joseph Schneider,
ORIGIN OF THE EVANGELICAL MENNONITES.
Of the origin of the Evangelical Mennonites suffice it is to say that in the State of Pennsylvania, in 1853, several Mennonite ministers, with a number of their members, united together to labor for the conversion of souls, through whose efforts, accompanied by the Holy Spirit, many were brought to Christ and happily converted.
On the 24th day of September, 1858, they held their first conference in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania; and by the Divine influence and blessing of God, have been sustained as a branch of the vine, notwithstanding the various disadvantages under which they have labored.
ORIGIN OF THE EVANGELICAL UNITED MENNONITES.
In the providence of God an acquaintance was formed between the Evangelical Mennonites and the United Mennonites, and a desire was soon cherished on the part of each society that a union might be effected between them, which, by the blessing of God, was accomplished at a special conference, called expressly for that purpose, Nov. 8, 1879.
To ratify and confirm the union, the following acknowledgement was subscribed to by the conference.
This is to certify, that we the undersigned members of the Evangelical Mennonite conference of Pennsylvania, and the United Mennonite conferences of Canada, and Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, upon authority, and in the name of the several General Conferences, upon due consideration and prayerful investigation, by mutual agreement, have, in the fear of God, united together as one body, adopting as a name of distinction,
EVANGELICAL UNITED MENNONITES.
William Gehman, Joel Rosenberger,
Solomon Ehy, Abraham Kauffman,
Samuel Musselman, Sidenham Eambert,
Daniel Brenneman, Joseph Schneider,
John Baer, Jacob Ruch,
Eusebius Hershey, Daniel Koch,
David Henning, William Yeakel,
Jonas Musselman, Michael Landis,
Abel Strawn, David Gehman.
ORIGIN OF THE BRETHREN IN CHRIST.
About the year 1838 there found itself amongst the members of the River Brethren a difference in doctrinal points, which caused a division, and those that differed from their doctrine on these points, organized themselves into a body and adopted the name BRETHREN IN CHRIST. The Lord greatly blessed their labors to the salvation of many precious souls.
ORIGIN OF THE MENNONITE BRETHREN IN CHRIST.
About the year 1882 the Brethren in Christ and the Evangelical United Mennonites formed an acquaintance with each other, and desires were soon expressed to form a union between the two bodies, which was affected through divine guidance by a special conference held at Jamton, Ohio Dec. 27, 1883.
To ratify and confirm the union the following acknowledgement was subscribed to by the conference
Ratification.This is to certify that we the undersigned, members of the Evangelical United Mennonite Church of the United States and Canada; and the Brethren in Christ of the United States, upon the authority and in the name of our respective General Conferences, upon due consideration and prayerful investigation, by mutual agreement, have, in the fear of God, united together as one body, adopting as a name of distinction, MENNONITE BRETHREN IN CHRIST.
George W. Wright, Moses Blackburn,
George D. Waitman, Peter Pike,
Menno Bowman, Isaiah Smail,
Sidenham Lambert, Solomon Eby,
William Geliman, Samuel McDonald,
Daniel Brenneman, Abel Strawn,
Peter Walter, John Rasor
ARTICLES OF FAITH.
The Following Articles Contain our Unanimous Confession of Christian Faith.
GOD, THE CREATION OF ALL THINGS. AND
There is but one Eternal, Omnipotent, Incomprehensible and Triune God the Father Son and Holy Ghost who is the Creator of the heavens, earth and sea, and all that is therein, visible and invisible; Governor and Upholder of the same, by His wisdom and the word of His mighty power, amongst which He created man after His own image, and formed him of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, indued with many great gifts; placed him in the Garden of Eden or Paradise where he enjoyed sweet fellowship and communion with Him and gave him both a command and a prohibition Gen. 1: 1; Gen. 2: 19, 1517. John 10: 30; 1 John 5: 7, Rev.19;6.
THE FALL OF MAN.
Our first parents did not remain in this glorious and happy state of their original
creation, but, being deluded through the subtlety and deception of the devil, disobeyed and transgressed the command of their God and Creator, incurring upon themselves and their posterity the sentence of death. Gen. 3: 5, 7, 17; Rom.5: 12.
THE RESTORATION OF MAN.
Notwithstanding the fall of our first parents from the state of their original purity and happiness, into a state of unhappiness, degradation and death, God devised for them a way of salvation through the gift of His beloved Son, of whom He gave promise and testified through all His prophets; and who, in due time, came into the world, "tasted death for every man," became the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and has thus "brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel."John 3: 16,
17; Gen. 3: 15; 2 Tim. 1: 9,10; Heb. 2: 9.
THE WORD OR SON OF GOD, WHO BECAME MAN.
The Son of God is the Word, the Eternal and true God, of one substance with the Father, who took man's nature upon Him, by being conceived and born of the Virgin Mary; so that both natures, Divine and human are perfectly and inseparably joined in Him. Therefore He is Christ (the anointed), very God and very man, who suffered, was crucified, died and was buried and and rose again, in order to reconcile us to the Eternal Father, and to present Himself a sacrifice for both our original and actual sins. 1 Cor, 5: 19; John 1: 13, 14.
THE HOLY GHOST.
The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty and glory with the Father and the Son, very and Eternal God. His office and
work is, to reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; also to imbue the children of God with power, stability and energy to contend earnestly for the faith of the Gospel, to comfort and lead them into all truth.John 15: 26; 16: 8; Acts 1: 8; John 20: 22; 1 John 5: 7.
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
The canonical books of the Holy Scriptures contain all the instructions necessary to salvation, and whatsoever is not contained therein, nor can be proven thereby, is not to
be required, nor believed as an article of faith, neither to be received as necessary to salvation.John 5: 39: 2 Tim. 3: 15, 16.
Original sin is that corruption and depravity of the human nature in consequence of the fall whereby man has become estranged from God and is disqualified to do the will of God perfectly. Rom. 7: 21; 8: 7; 1 Cor. 3:1-4.
Man, having become so completely ruined, has neither the will nor power to turn to God, and if left to himself, would remain in his wretched and miserable condition forever. But blessed thought, the grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men; hence, God graciously employs the means of enlightening and awakening the mind of the sinner to a sense of his poverty and wretchedness, and then extends the invitation, that whosoever will may come and take of the water of life freely." But just so long as man refuses to comply with the requirements of God, and rejects the invitations of His word, salvation cannot be secured by him. John 6: 44; Rev. 3: 20; 22: 17.
Genuine repentance toward God consist in a knowledge of, a sorrow for, and a confession and forsaking of sins brought about by the knowledge of the goodness of God and the convincing power of the Holy Spirit accompanying the truth as it is preached or read. Matt. 3: 2; Acts 20: 21; 2 Cor 7:10: 1 John 1: 9, first clause.
Genuine and saving faith is that simpletrust in the promises of God in Christ through which all doubt is excluded from the heart and peace and rest are produced in the soul. According to the language of the Holy Scriptures, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.Rom. 5: 1; Heb.11: 1, 6.
JUSTIFICATION AND REGENERATION.
Justification and regeneration imply the forgiveness of sins, and a change of heart, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. -- John 3: 3; Rom. 5:1.
Entire sanctification necessarily follows justification and regeneration; for, by it is implied a setting apart for, the continual service of God, the individual, justified and
regenerated; also a cleansing from inbred or original depravity, which is removed only by the application and cleansing process of Christ's blood. It is an instantaneous act of God, through the Holy Ghost, by faith in the atoning merits of Christ's blood, and constitutes the believer holy, inasmuch as it includes depravity and all unrighteousness
from the heart. He, therefore, is perfect perfectly saved - the will of God perfectly performed in the soul.
1. God commands it-(Deut. 6: 5; with Luke 10:27.) Matt. 5:48; Rom. 6:11; 1 Cor.7:1; Heb.6:1;12;14; James 1:4; 1 Peter 1:15, 16.
2. God promised it-Dent. 30: 6: Ezek. 36:25-29 Matt.5:6; 1Thess.5:24; 1 Jon. 1:7-9
3. Christ and holy and inspired men prayed for it in behalf of the church - John17:17, 20-23; Eph 3: 14-21; Col. 4:12; 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20,21; 1 Peter 5:10
It is the great object of all God's dealings with men. The object of Christ's mediatorial work - Luke 1: 68-75: 1 Jon. 3: 8; Eph 5:25-27; Titus 2: 14; of the institution of the Christian ministry.Eph. 4: 11-13 Col 1:28; of the promise of the Gospel (2 Pet. 1:4.)
5. Examples of those who have realized it- Enoch (Gen 5: 24;) Noah (Gen. 6: 9) the disciples on the day of
Pentecost (Acts 2:4;) Barnabas (Acts 11: 24); St. John (1 Jon. 4:17): and St. Paul (Phil. 3:15).
GROWTH IN GRACE.
The state that we attain through entire sanctification, fits us for the development of those heaven-born principles imparted to us in regeneration. Eph. 4: 15; 2 Thess 1: 3;
 Pet. 3; 18. There is however a growth before this state is attained, but neither perfect, nor such as will bring forth much fruit, 1 Pet. 2:2; Jon. 15: 2.
HEALING THE SICK.
That it is the will of God to heal the sick, who by an implicit confidence and faith look to Him and trust in His power, we believe, according to James 5: 13, 15; Matt. 8:17; Mark 6:13; 16:18; 2Chron, 16:12; Psa. 103:3; Ex. 15: 26.
Good works are not conditions of life and salvation, but are the natural results of a regenerated and sanctified heart, from which, as naturally as water gushes forth from every, respective fountain after its kind, and every tree bringeth forth fruit after its own nature, supreme love to God and love to man, with every other corresponding trait of Christian character, will naturally show forth themselves in all the various avocations and deportments of life.
By grace are ye saved, "not of works," for when we have done all that is our duty to do, we must say, We are unprofitable servants.Matt. 7: 1620; John 15: 5, 8, 16;
SIN AFTER JUSTIFICATION.
Not every sin committed after justification, is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Therefore the grant of repentance is not denied to such as fall into sin after justification. After we have received the Holy Ghost, it may so happen, that we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and we may even then, by the grace of God, rise again, through the workings of the Spirit, and turn to God and receive forgiveness of our sins. 1 John 2:1; Rev. 2:5.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST.
The Church of Jesus Christ is composed of all true believers who are designated His "sheep," who hear His voice and follow Him, who know Him and are known by Him and who are a separate people from the world, "a peculiar people." Supreme love to God and love to all men (enemies included), being a true characteristic feature, peculiar to them only, they may readily be distinguished from the world. Their ground and pillar of hope is that of the "apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief Corner Stone." The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." "Blessed is that people whose God is the Lord."John 10: 15; Eph. 2: 20; Tit. 2: 14.
Water Baptism has no saving or cleansing efficacy. It is a visible or outward sign of an internal work of grace, in regeneration and consecration to the service of God. It is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God; hence, cannot with propriety, be administered, only to such as have, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, realized the forgiveness of sins, and have the evidence of their acceptance with God.Matt. 28: 19, 20; Acts 8: 37; 1 Peter 3: 21.
The Lord Jesus has instituted and commanded feet washing, who also himself washed the disciples' feet, and has thereby given an example, that we "ought to wash one another's feet."John 13: 417; 1 Tim. 5:10.
THE LORD'S SUPPER.
The Lord's Supper is the ordinance which our Saviour instituted in the night of His betrayal, with bread and the fruit of the vine. We are to observe it, to commemorate that upon the cross, to redeem us from the curse of sin and death.
That the bread of communion and the cup of blessing were not intended for a full meal, we infer from the language of Paul when he says: "If any man hunger, let him eat at home," and, "What! have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?''
Christ draws our attention to the fact, that it is not to be a natural, but a spiritual feast,
when he says, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you."
The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner. And the means whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is faith. Therefore the Supper was instituted for the children of God only. God has also wisely directed that each one examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.Matt. 26:26 29; 1 Cor. 10: 16; 11: 2029.
Holy matrimony is a sacred institution of Divine origin; and believers should enter into so solemn an engagement in the fear of God, seeking direction and guidance of Him who knoweth to direct all things according to the good pleasure of His will, and according to the teachings of God's Word. This solemn engagement should be "only in the Lord."
Believers should not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. The trouble and despair subsequent upon entering the marriage state of those whom God hath not joined together, is incalculable, and should be a solemn warning to any and all who contemplate this step, to take the matter with all sincerity of heart to God in prayer. We
therefore use our influence strongly against the courtship and marriage of Christians with the unconverted. Gen. 1: 27; 2: 18; 1 Cor. 7: 39; 2 Cor. 6: 14, 15.
God ordained and instituted the civil government for the punishment of evildoers and for the protection and defence of the good. We respect these powers with due loyalty, and are willing to be submissive, subjective and obedient to their authority, so long as not intruded upon in things which should militate against the supreme law and will of God. We pay willingly and cheerfully tribute and customs demanded of us, and pray for their protection, prosperity, and welfare, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty." Matt. 17: 27; Rom, 13: 17; 1 Pet. 2: 14.
Jesus has forbidden His disciples and followers all revenge and resistance, with the divine injunction, "Resist not evil;" again, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, but now is my kingdom not from hence."
Christ's followers are denominated His sheep, whose nature is the direct opposite of the wolf or lion. Christ, in His suffering, has given us an example, and we should
follow His steps. "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.'" We are commanded to recompense to no man evil for evil," and to cause grief or suffering to come upon no one; and if required, for conscience' sake, at the Lord's bidding when persecuted in one place, to flee into another; and also to take the spoiling of our goods joyfully, for the Lord's sake,
"knowing that there is reserved for us in heaven a better and enduring substance." Matt. 5: 3944; 1 Peter 3: 9.
Christ has strictly forbidden the swearing of oaths, when He says, "I say unto you, Swear not at all; but let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." It is evident that the apostles regarded it, and strictly insisted upon its careful observance. James says, "Above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath; but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, lest ye fall into condemnation.
From these clear testimonies we conclude that the swearing of oaths is forbidden and not tolerated; and that anything beyond an affirmation is violating the command of our Saviour. We regard our affirmation as sacred and binding as though we had confirmed it by an oath.Matt. 5: 3437; Jas. 5: 12.
THE CALL TO THE MINISTRY.
The call to the ministry is of such vast importance that God alone is able to decide as to who shall go forth as laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, as ministers of the Gospel.
The Saviour says, "Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest;" and Paul says, "How shall they preach except they be sent?" Hence, only such as the Lord has called, qualified and sent forth to preach the Gospel, can be an efficient means in His hand to further His cause, prosper the Church, and be successful in winning souls to Christ.Matt. 9:38 ; Rom. 10:15.
We believe the Sabbath to be of divine origin. The Jewish Sabbath as having been obligatory upon those living under the law of Moses until the time of its consummation.
We recognize the first day of the week as being the legal Sabbath under the present dispensation, the observance of which we hold obligatory and sacredly binding upon the followers of the Lord Jesus in commemoration of the glorious victory achieved through His resurrection from the dead on that eventful day; it also having been duly and persistently observed by the Apostolic Church, and also being the day upon which the Holy Ghost was poured out on the disciples. John 20:1, 19; Acts 20: 7.
THE COMING OF CHRIST.
We believe that the hope of the Church is centered in the personal return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who will Himself return in like manner as He ascended. We are exhorted to comfort one another with these words. Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4: 18.
ImportanceMatt. 24: 42, 44: Mark 13:33-37; Luke 12: 35, 36; 21: 36.
Object of hopeTitus 2: 13; 1 Pet. 1:3- 9; 1 Thess. 4: 17; John 14: 3; 1 Cor. 1:4-8.
Motives to activity and holinessLuke 9:26; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3: 4, 5; 1 Tim 6:14 1 Peter 5: 2- 4; Titus 2:12, 13; Heb. 10: 36, 37; Jas. 5: 7, 8; Rev. 2: 25; 3:11; 1 Thess. 3: 12, 13; 1 Jno. 2: 28; 3: 2, 3; 1 Thess. 5; 4-6.
Scoffers do not believe in His coming 2 Peter 3: 3-7, 11, 12;
He will come to those that look for him Heb. 9: 28.
The Millennium (Rev 20: 1-6), or day of the Lord (2 Peter 3: 8) will be ushered in by the appearance of Christ in His glory (Luke 21: 27) with his church (1 Thess. 3: 13; Zech. 14: 5), or ten thousand saints (Jude 14), to reign on earth, (Rev. 5: 10; Zech. 14:9) one thousand years, during which time the devil will be bound,(Rev. 20: 1-6) and Christ will reign in righteousness (Psa. 46: 9; Psa. 72: 8, 10,11, 17; Isa. 2: 1-4) until His enemies become His footstool( Heb. 10: 13 ; Isa. 11: 6-9; Hos. 2: 18).
God has appointed a day (2 Pet. 3:8) to judge the world (Acts 17: 31) when all will be judged according to their works. 2 Peter 2: 9; Heb 9: 27; 10: 27; 2 Cor. 5: 10; Matt. 25: 32; Eccl. 12: 14.
GENERAL RULES OF OUR SOCIETY.
1. We esteem it as becoming true worshippers, upon entering the place of worship, in reverence to God, and from a sense of gratitude for being permitted to meet with His people, to kneel in silent prayer before the Lord.
2. We recommend, that the time be properly occupied by singing and prayer, to the edification of those assembled, until the time of opening service. The minister will read a portion of God's Word, and at his direction, the congregation will arise and sing and then kneel in united prayer; after prayer a verse or two may be sung, then preaching, prayer, singing, and benediction.
SPECIAL OR PROTRACTED MEETINGS.
In addition to the regular appointments for public worship we make special efforts, in the way of protracted meetings, for the awakening and conversion of sinners and sanctification of believers. We believe these to be the most efficient means available to this end, when entered into in the spirit of faith.
PRAYER AND FELLOWSHIP MEETINGS.
1. Prayer and fellowship meetings are necessary in the Church, not only for the benefit of its members, to preserve them from falling into lukewarmness, but to exert a good influence upon the rising generation, or any who may attend.
2. They are Scriptural, and approved of God, and when held once a week, or even oftener in the spirit of true love to God and the brethren, they will prove to be efficient means against the enemy, and preserve life and power in the church.
3. They are to be opened by singing and prayer, then the leader will read a portion of God's Word, suited to the occasion, with appropriate remarks when the privilege is extended to all, to exercise themselves in prayer and testimony, according to the promptings and desires of their hearts. Acts 12: 12: Mal. 3: 16.
Believing that it is good that each member be examined and encouraged before the class, therefore a class meeting should be held in each class at least four times a year, shortly before the Quarterly Conference. Let the meeting be announced in due time so that all may know it, and let each member be urged to attend. After the members are present, the minister will open the meeting the same as prayer and fellowship meeting, after which he, or the class leader, will request each member, personally, to testify as to his or her standing in Christ, after which the leader of the meeting will give such instruction or admonition as he may see fit.Mal. 3:16; 2 Cor. 13: 5.
ADMISSION OF MEMBERS.
1. We receive such that have been baptized on confession of their faith: and believers may be received into full church membership before they are baptized on condition that they be baptized at the first opportunity after their reception.
2. We receive them in a public manner.
3. The minister in charge, or Presiding Elder, will extend to them the right hand of fellowship, in the name of Christ and His Church.
4. A suitable number of members should greet them with a hearty welcome.
DUTIES OF MEMBERS.
1. It is expected of all, who desire to continue as members of this society, that they continue to evidence their desire of salvation, by attending to public worship, ministry of the Word either read or expounded, the Supper of the Lord, Family devotions, secret prayer, searching the Scriptures, feet washing, greeting with the holy kiss, and fasting or abstinence.
2. We strictly enforce upon each member of the society the duties toward each other which the Saviour inculcated, namely: "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established; and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church; but if he shall neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican"Matt. 18:1517. And again: "If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."Matt. 5: 23, 24.
3. No one shall have any right to receive a complaint, or in any way encourage any member therein, before the above injunctions have been complied with.
Singing, as an important part of worship, has held a prominent place in the Church of God in all ages, and is one of the most soul-cheering, and animating exercises belonging to the solemn worship of God; and when Christians unite together in singing the praises of God, "with the Spirit, and with the understanding," it is truly sublime; and in its effects is calculated to elevate the minds and affections above the things of time and sense, to things heavenly and divine.
It is very desirable that all who can, should participate in this part of the divine service of God.
The Psalmist said, "I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live, and praise my God while I have my being;" and again: "Sing unto the Lord a new song; let all the earth sing unto the Lord.''
The Apostle said: "Singing and making melody in your hearts unto the Lord."
1. In reference to wearing of apparel, the Holy Scripture gives us no definite instruction, as regards the mode and style; only that Christians should adorn themselves in "modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety: not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.''
2 It is not specially taught in God's Word as to the mode or style of dressing, yet there are directions given, strongly protesting against extravagance and intemperance; therefore it is necessary to guard against extremes in dressing, as well as in eating and drinking.
3. Simplicity in manner of dressing has no more saving efficacy than anything else of a like nature. We must be clothed with the garments of salvation, and covered with the robe of righteousness.
4. Be it known that our influence is decidedly against the useless practice, vain indulgence and sinful habit of wearing sumptuous attire, costly array, or any of those articles which are strictly prohibited in the Holy Scriptures. We admire neatness and cleanliness, and insist on decency, with becoming propriety, in the wearing of modest apparel. 1 Tim. 2: 9, 10; 5: 9, 10; i Peter 3: 3 6; Isa. 3: 1626.
The use of intoxicating liquors, as a beverage being the cause of incalculable misery in the world, the evil influences of which are enormous in their effects upon society at large, no member shall be permitted to make or prepare ardent or intoxicating liquors, to deal in them, or use them as a beverage.
We recommend that all members of our denomination take an active part in prohibiting this evil.
All needless indulgences such as snuffing, chewing and smoking tobacco, using opium, and any kindred habit, which are only for the gratification of the depraved appetite, are unbecoming and inconsistent with our Christian profession. Let it be known therefore, that our influence is strictly against them, and that we recommend our ministers not to receive any as church members who are addicted to the use of any of them.
It is inconsistent and anti-scriptural for Christ's devoted followers to belong to secret societies. There is nothing belonging to the religion of Jesus, of which His followers need be ashamed, or keep concealed from the eyes of men, for Christ said: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven," and further: "I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogues and in the templein secret have I said nothing." Upon these and like considerations no member of this society shall be allowed to belong to any secret organization.
CONFORMITY TO THE WORLD.
As regards conformity to the world in participating in festivals, socials, picnics and similar gatherings, the object of which is to merely gratify the carnal mind or will of the flesh, trifling conduct and conversation, and the needless waste of time in idle games; these shall be strictly prohibited.
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS AND CHOIRS.
Seeing as we do the evil effects of musical instruments and choirs in our sister churches, and being desirous of warding off all that may retard the cause of Christ, it is not alIowed to introduce either musical instruments or choirs into our public worship.
Believing that taking out life insurance policies is contrary to the spirit and teachings of Christianity (Jer.49: 11; 1 Tim. 4: 8, etc.), no member shall be permitted to have his life insured.
BRINGING TO TRIAL, FINDING GUILTY, AND
REPROVING, SUSPENDING, OR EXCLUDING
DISORDERLY PERSONS FROM
THE SOCIETY OR CHURCH
How shall an accused member be brought to trials
1. Before the society of which he is a member, or a select number of them, in the presence of the Presiding Elder, or preacher, in the following manner:
Let the accused and the accuser be brought face to face: but if this cannot be done, let the next best evidence be produced. If the accused person be found guilty by the decision of the members before whom he is brought to trial, and the accusation be such as is forbidden by the Word of God, sufficient to exclude a person from the kingdom of grace and glory, let the minister or preacher in charge expel such member. If the accused person evade a trial, by absenting himself, after sufficient notice, and the circumstances of the accusation be strong and presumptive, let him be esteemed guilty, and accordingly be expelled. Trustworthy witnesses from without shall not be rejected.
2. But in case of neglect of duties of any kind, imprudent conduct, indulging in sinful tempers or words, or disobedience to the order and discipline of the church, let private reproof be given by a leader, or preacher; and if there be an acknowledgement of the fault, and proper humiliation, the person may remain on trial. On a second offense, the preacher may take one or two faithful members. On a third offense, let the case be brought before the society, or a select number, and if there be no sign of real humiliation, the offender must be cut off.
If a member of our Church shall be clearly convicted of endeavoring to sow dissensions in our society, by inveighing against either doctrines or discipline, such a person so offending shall be first reproved by the preacher of his circuit, and if he persist in such pernicious practices, he shall be expelled from the church.
3. Nevertheless, if in any of the above mentioned cases, the preacher differ from a majority of the society, or the select number, concerning the innocence or guilt of the accused person, the trial, in such case, may be referred by the preacher, to the ensuing Quarterly Conference.
4. If there be a murmur or complaint from any excluded person, in any of the above mentioned instances, that justice has not been done, he shall be allowed an appeal to the next Quarterly Conference, except such as absent themselves from trial, after sufficient notice is given them, and the Quarterly Conference shall finally determine the case. After such form of trial and conviction, such a person shall be excluded from church fellowship until contrition be manifested, and confession be made.
5. Members who habitually neglect their duties shall be dropped at the annual revision of the class books in case they have been duly informed by the minister in charge without producing the desired effect.
HOW SHALL AN ACCUSED MINISTER BE
BROUGHT TO TRIAL?
Answer.Any minister against whom a charge is preferred for immoral conduct or teaching any doctrine or doctrines contrary to our Discipline he shall be admonished by the Presiding Elder on whose charge he labors or lives, and in case he persists in such practice, the Presiding Elder shall suspend him from preaching until the next Annual Conference where he shall be tried.
HOW SHOULD A PRESIDING ELDER UNDER
CHARGE BE BROUGHT TO TRIAL?
Answer.Each Annual Conference shall elect by ballot a Standing Committee of three Elders who give themselves unconditionally into the hands of the Conference who shall examine any Presiding Elder of that Conference in case any charges are preferred against him. And if he be found guilty they shall have power to suspend him from his office until the next Annual Conference, where he shall be dealt with.
No ministers of our society shall be allowed to take active part in politics, and they shall discourage the members in the same. In the temperance movement each one shall act in regard to voting according to the dictates of his own conscience.
HOW TO DEAL WITH PERSONS WHO
DISTURB OUR PUBLIC
Whereas we have frequently been disturbed in our public worship by persons who do not have proper regard for religious services; and being the Lord has made ample provision for his children by the powers that be, (Rom. 13: 15,) and the apostle Paul appealed to these for justice, [Acts 25:11,] therefore,
Resolved,That, after we have made useof all reasonable means to secure order, and fail, that we give them over into the hands of the said powers.
No brother or sister shall retain membership in our church, who will marry again after having been divorced, or who will marry a divorced person. Neither shall any one be received into church fellowship under the same circumstances. Matt. 19: 6; Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7:10.
THESE are the general rules of our society, all of which are in harmony with the spirit of the word of God. If there be any among us who observe them not, who habitually break any of them, let it be known unto them who watch over that soul, as they who just give an account, that we will admonish him of the error of his ways, we will bear with him for a season; but if then he repent not, he hath no more place among us. We have delivered our own souls.
How and to whom shall baptism be administered?
Baptism shall be administered to believers and by immersion only.
Questions to candidates for baptism.
1. Can you testify that you through repentance towards God and faith in the Lord
Jesus Christ, have experienced the forgiveness of your sins, and enjoy peace with God?
2. Are you willing to renounce the world with all sinful gratifications, and cleave unto the Lord, and consecrate your all to His service?
3. Are you willing to be taught from the Word of God, and to yield obedience to all that He enjoins upon you?
1. We recommend that feet washing be observed previous to communion.
2. At the time when the communion is to be administered, there shall be a preparatory discourse or exhortation delivered, to invite self-examination, according to the words of the apostle.1 Cor. 11: 2329.
3. The communicants gather around the altar, kneel, uniting in prayer, led by the Elder in giving of thanks for the emblem representing the broken body of Christ, then partake. Then likewise kneel and give thanks for the cup representing the blood of Christ, which was "shed for many," then partake.
At the time appointed, the persons to be married present themselves before the minister, the bride at the left side of the bridegroom, when the minister will address them in the following manner:
Question.To the man: Do you confess that you are free from all other women, as far as the bond of matrimony is concerned? If so, can you in the presence of God and these witnesses answer, Yes?
Q.To the woman: Do you confess that you are free from all other men as far as the
bond of matrimony is concerned? If so, can you in the presence of God and these witnesses answer, Yes?
Q.To the man: Will you (Name) have this woman to be your wedded wife, to live together after God's ordinance, in the holy state of matrimony? Will you love her, comfort, honor and keep her in days of good and evil report, wealth or poverty, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her, so long till death shall separate you? If so can you in the presence of God and these witnesses answer, Yes?
Q.To the woman: Will you (Name) have this man to be your wedded husband to live together after God's ordinance, in the holy state of matrimony? Will you obey him love, honor and keep him, in days of good and evil report, wealth or poverty, sickness and health; and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto him so long till death shall separate you? If so, can you in the presence of God and these witnesses answer, Yes?
Then shall the minister join their right hands together and say:
Those whom God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. For as much as
(Name) and (Name) have consented to live together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and in the presence of these witnesses, and thereto have pledged their faith each to the other, and have declared the same by joining hands, I pronounce that they are husband and wife together, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Close with prayer and benediction.
Before leaving the house, the minister will be governed more or less by circumstances.
If time permit, will give a short exhortation, or offer a few words of comfort to the bereaved, and sing and pray, when, if convenient, he will lead the procession to the place of services or burial as may be decided upon. The burial before or after services, to be governed by circumstances, or the choice of relatives or interested parties.
At the Grave."Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh up like a flower and is cut down; he fleeth like a shadow and continueth not."
Inasmuch as it has pleased the Lord, in whose power are life and death, to remove our departed (......) from our midst, we therefore commit the body to the earth; earth
to earth! ashes to ashes! dust to dust! awaiting the resurrection through Jesus Christ our Lord by whom each must come forth in his own order when this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality, and all shall appear in His presence, according to the mighty working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself.
If all services are over previous to burial benediction at the grave.
At the time of dedication the minister in charge, or some other minister appointed to officiate, shall read one of the following Scripture passages: Psalm 132, or John 17. Then a dedicatory hymn shall be sung, followed by prayer, then the sermon.
Then the congregation shall rise before the Lord, and the following declaration be made by the preacher:
Beloved: It behooves us, in this solemn hour, to appear before the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, the source and giver of all good, who has given us the intention and the ability to build this house and it being now accomplished by His help, we therefore dedicate it to His service.
Our Divine Redeemer gives us the precious assurance that He will meet with His people where they assemble themselves.
Thus, encouraged and strengthened in faith, we have confidence that the Most High, who inhabiteth eternity and dwelleth also in those who are of a contrite and humble spirit, to comfort them, will accept this house which we have built to His glory, at our hands, and regard it with His good pleasure, to the salvation and benefit of those who may from time to time here assemble to magnify His holy name.
Having this confidence, we now declare, designate and consecrate this house as the (name of Church) of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ, (name of place,) unto the Triune God, where, by the singing of His praise, the offering of thanksgiving, prayer, reading,expounding and preaching of His Word, the administration of the sacraments, and the observance of such other devotional services and rules as are adopted and practiced in public worship by the Mennonite Brethren in Christ, agreeable with His Word, His honor shall be magnified, and His kingdom be built up to the salvation of men.
And that this dedication be confirmed by God, let us also consecrate ourselves, and all that we are and possess, without reservation or condition, to Him as His people, and for His service, in accordance with His rightful claim, through the covenant of grace by Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Then the congregation shall kneel in prayer to God to accept the offering.
Doxology and benediction.
ORDINATION OF PROBATIONERS.
1. On the day appointed there shall he a suitable sermon or exhortation delivered.
2. After the names of those to be ordained have been read aloud, the Presiding Elder shall read the following articles to all who may be chosen for ordination:
"A bishop must be blameless as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover
of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate, holding fast to the faithful Word, as he hath been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine both to exhort and convince the
Question,Do you feel inwardly persuaded that you are moved upon by the Holy Ghost to take upon you the office of the ministry of the Gospel, to serve God in the Church of Christ, to the honor and glory of His holy name?
Answer. Of this I am persuaded.
Q. Do you believe the Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testament?
A.I do believe them.
Q. Will you apply due diligence to frame and fashion your life according to the doctrines of Christ; and to make yourself as much as in you lieth, a worthy example of the flock of Christ?
A. I will the Lord being my helper.
Q-Will you obey them to whom the charge and government over you is committed, and follow their godly admonitions with a willing and ready mind?
AI will, by the grace of God.
After prayer, the Presiding Elder and elders present shall lay their hands upon the heads of every one of them and say:
"Take thou authority to execute the office of an elder in the Church of God, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen,"
"Take thou authority to read and preach the Word of God, and to administer the ordinances of the Church of Christ."
After prayer, read Luke 12: 3538.
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when He shall return from the wedding, that when He cometh, and knocketh, they may open unto Him immediately.
"Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching. Verily, I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them sit down to meat and will come forth and serve them. And if He shall come in the second watch, or in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants."
After this, the following benediction is to be pronounced:
"The peace of God keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, our
ORDINATION OF DEACONS.
At the time of ordination an appropriate sermon or exhortation shall be delivered.
After the names of those to be ordained have been read aloud, the Presiding Elder
shall read the following passages of Scripture to those who may be chosen for ordination:
"Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved, then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well; for they that have used the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree and great boldness in the faith which is in Jesus Christ." 1 Tim. 3: 813.
Then shall the Presiding Elder propound to those to be ordained the following question:
Since it seems to have pleased God and the Church, to recognize in you, dear brother, the qualifications necessary to the fulfillment of the office of deacon (and the Church places in you the trust and confidence, that by the assistance of God, you will continue to merit and retain that confidence which is placed in you because of the satisfaction rendered during the time of your probation) do you promise, by the assisting grace of God, to continue according to the ability which God shall bestow upon you, to perform the several duties enjoined, relative to your office as a deacon?
Answer.By the assisting grace of God I will.
Then the Presiding Elder or Elders, with the laying on of hands, will say:
Take thou authority to execute the office of a deacon in the Church of Christ. The
peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your heart and mind in the knowledge and love of God and His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. The blessing of God the Almighty Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost rest upon and remain with you always. Amen.
Seeing as we do the evil effects of that filthy weed, tobacco, and since we as a Church want to exert our influence against it, no person shall be elected to the office of a deacon, class-leader, or S. S. superintendent, and no applicant for the ministry, be received on probation, who is addicted to the use of tobacco.
Presiding Elders, Elders, Helpers, Probationers, S. S. Superintendents, Stewards, Trustees, Deacons and Class Leaders.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS.
The following officers are to be elected by ballot, namely: Presiding Elders, Deacons, S. S. Superintendents, Trustees and Class Leaders.
1. The Presiding Elders are to be elected for an Annual Conference term only.
2. At each Annual Conference, after the election of Presiding Elder, a Vice-Presiding Elder shall be elected to supply his place in case he should become unable to longer fill his office.
3. Deacons shall be elected by the membership of the church over which they are to preside, at a meeting previously announced, and taken on probation for a term of three years. Deacons on probation to be ordained shall be examined at the last Quarterly Conference on their field in the Conference year, and if passed satisfactory the Quarterly Conference shall specify time and place of ordination.
4. Class Leaders shall be elected by the class, at the close of each Annual Conference year.
5. Stewards shall be nominated by the pastor in charge, and elected by the class by an open vote at the close of each Annual Conference year.
6. Trustees shall be elected annually by the last Quarterly Conference in the Annual Conference year.
7. Sisters may be elected as class-leaders, S. S. Superintendents, and Stewards.
THE RECEPTION OF CANDIDATES FOR THE MINISTRY.
1. If there is a brother or sister who has convictions of a call to preach the Gospel (see Article 25) such shall make it known to the minister in charge.
2. If the minister considers such an one a proper subject, as Paul writes in 1 Tim. 3, he shall bring the matter before the class, and if two-thirds of the class present vote (by ballot) in favor of the person, he shall recommend him, or her, to the Quarterly Conference.
3. Then the Presiding Elder with the minister in charge, will examine the state of grace, nature of the call, and the moral character of such, and with the consent or two-thirds of the Quarterly Conference, may grant a Quarterly Conference license, giving him, or her, the privilege to labor as directed by the Quarterly Conference or Presiding Elder.
4. Such who have labored satisfactorily under a Quarterly Conference license for at least one year, may make application to their Quarterly Conference for a recommendation to the Annual Conference which may be granted them, after examination, by consent of two-thirds of the Quarterly Conference members present, where such may be received on a three years' term of probation providing they pass an examination on discipline satisfactorily.
5. No probationer is to be ordained until the Church is fully satisfied that he is capable of taking charge of a work.
6. No probationer is allowed to solemnize marriages.
7. If ministers from other denominations desire to join our Church, they shall be taken in as probationers.
Sisters who are licensed according to the Discipline may be recognized as evangelists, helpers, and missionaries subject to the Presiding Elder or minister in charge. They shall be received according to Chap. 4 Sec. 3 except ordination. They shall have a voice in their respective Quarterly Conferences.
DUTIES OF S. S. SUPERINTENDENTS.
1. The duties of the superintendent are as follows: He shall see that the school is regularly opened, directed and closed; that each class is provided, if possible, with a Christian teacher, competent to teach; that the scholars are classed as they advance, and that everything in the school is done in a Christian manner. He shall furnish the Quarterly Conference with a statistical report and other necessary information. In all matters of special importance, where opportunity is afforded, he shall consult the preacher for direction.
In the absence of the superintendent, the assistant superintendent shall occupy his place. The duties of the other officers are such as belong to their respective positions
2. We recommend that the preacher meet once a week with the officers and teachers of the school, for the purpose of discussing with them the lesson of the following Sabbath. If he cannot be present, the superintendent shall take his place.
THE QUALIFICATIONS AND DUTIES OF CLASS LEADERS.
Question. - What are the necessary qualifications of class leaders?
Answer- They shall be persons of dep piety and members of our church, having Christ's cause at heart.
Q. -What are the duties of class leaders?
A. - That they never cease praying for, and watching over themselves, to obtain such grace from God, that they may, in observing these rules according to the commandments of God, be faithful leaders, and give their brethren and sisters good instruction by their own deportment. 1 Peter 5:2, 3.
2. That they cordially love the class committed to their charge, frequently pray for them in secret, visit them occasionally, hold public prayer meetings at least once a week, and be diligent in supplication, in intercession, in deprecation and in thanksgiving; the like exercises being commanded by Jesus Christ and His holy apostles.
3. That they do not seek to dominate over their brethren and sisters, but watch over them in love, and see that they progress in the divine life, not only according to the form, but to see that they grow in the true knowledge and love of God; and in love to advise them, teach them, reprove, comfort and admonish them, as circumstances may require.
4. That they be careful that all things are conducted in their classes according to Divine and human order; and that they inform the preacher of such as lead a disorderly life and will not be admonished, as well as of those who purposely or habitually neglect their duty of doing good.
QUALIFICATIONS AND DUTIES OF STEWARDS.
Let the stewards be men of sound piety, who earnestly seek after the prosperity of the Church; and have good natural and acquired abilities to transact temporal business.
The duties of stewards are:
1. To assist the deacons in procuring dwellings for the ministers.
2. They shall, as soon as possible after the Annual Conference, make themselves acquainted with the wants of the minister.
3. They shall personally require of each member in their respective classes to contribute quarterly, monthly, or weekly, as the Quarterly Conference may decide according to their several abilities, towards the support of the ministers.
4. A book shall be kept by each steward, wherein is contained an accurate account of all moneys collected and paid out, which shall be examined by each Quarterly Conference on his charge.
5. They shall annually collect the missionary money, and pay it to the delegate to the Annual Conference. They shall be elected annually, one by each class.
The steward is accountable to the Quarterly Conference on his charge, for the performance of his official duties.
QUALIFICATIONS AND DUTIES OF DEACONS.
Question What are the necessary qualifications of deacons?
Answer.See Chap. 3, Sec. 7.
Q.What are the duties of deacons?
A. 1. They shall provide the emblems and other necessaries for the Lord's Supper and feet washing, and to the best of their abilities assist the minister in his labors, if required.
2. They, assisted by the stewards, shall procure dwellings for the ministers.
3. They shall see if there are any poor in the district over which they preside; and if so, to inquire into the nature of their wants, and take such steps to provide for them as they may deem proper.
They shall be accountable to the Quarterly Conference for the performance of their official duties.
There shall be one or more at each church-house, as the Quarterly Conference may decide.
DUTIES OF HELPERS.
They shall, according to the direction of the Annual Conference, assist the minister in charge as mutually agreed upon, in supplying regular appointments.
DUTIES OF PROBATIONERS.
They shall labor according to the direction of the Annual Conference. If a charge be assigned to them, their duties are the same as those of the travelling elders, except solemnizing marriages; and they may administer baptism and communion, only by the permission of the Presiding Elder. If directed to labor as helpers, their duties are the same as under Sec. 9.
DUTIES OF TRAVELLING ELDERS.
Question.-What are the duties of elders?
Answer.To preach, to meet the societies and classes, to visit the sick, to hold class meeting four times a year in each class, to see that our Church Discipline is observed in respect on his charge, and to read the general rules or get them read once a year.
Q.What are the directions given to elders?
A.Be diligent. Never be unemployed; never be triflingly employed, never trifle away time, neither spend any more time at any place than is strictly necessary. Be serious. Let your motto be, "Holiness to the Lord." Avoid all lightness, jesting and foolish talking; conduct yourself prudently with women. Take no step towards marriage without first consulting with your brethren. Believe evil of no one without good evidence (unless you see it done, take heed how you credit it). Speak evil of no one; because your word especially, would eat as doth a canker. Keep your thoughts within your own breast, till you come to the person concerned. Tell every one under your care what you think wrong in his or her conduct, and that lovingly and plainly, as soon as may be, else it will fester in your heart. Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom. Avoid all false show. A preacher of the Gospel is servant of all. Be ashamed of nothing but sin. Be punctual. Do everything exactly at the time; and do not mend our rules but keep them. You have nothing to do but to save souls; therefore, spend and be spent in God's cause; and go always, not only to those that want you, but to those that need you most.
Observe! it is not your business only to preach so many times, and take care of this or that society, but to save as many as you can; to bring as many sinners to repentance as you can, and with all your power to build them up in holiness, without which they cannot see the Lord. Therefore you will need to exercise all the faith, sense and grace you have.
Act in all things not according to your own will, but as a son in the Gospelin preaching and visiting from house to house in reading, meditation and prayer.
An ordained minister leaving the active work of our society (except for reasons accepted by the Annual Conference) shall forfeit his voice in his Conference until satisfaction be given to said Conference. Any minister who has been passed at the preceding Annual Conference, and also at the preceding Quarterly Conference may, at his request receive a transfer to any other Annual Conference from the Presiding Elder of the District.
No Elder in our Church shall be allowed to be a member in any Association or Society organized with the object of making financial gain.
The travelling ministers are accountable to the Quarterly Conference on their charge for the performance of their official duties.
THE DUTIES OF PRESIDING ELDERS
Question.-What are the duties of a Presiding Elder?
Answer. 1. To travel and preach in the district assigned him.
2. To preside over Quarterly and Annual Conferences.
3. In case of necessity, he has the power in the interval between the Annual Conferences, to change or transfer preachers, and to remove or suspend immoral ones within the bounds of his district, until the next Annual Conference according to the direction of our Church Discipline.
4. He shall take heed not to be remiss in attending to his appointed meetings, and in holding Quarterly Conferences, and at his discretion he can appoint and hold grove meetings, preach and exhort according to ability, and ever be intent to set his brethren in office a good example in godliness.
5. He shall take special care that our Discipline be inculcated in all its parts, within the bounds of his district.
6. He has the superintendence of all the societies within the bounds of his district.
7. He shall hold missionary meetings at every appointment, with the assistance of the minister in charge, and take up collections for the missionary cause.
8. The Presiding Elder shall read the duties of officers once a year on each charge at the first Quarterly Conference in the conference year.
9. He shall preach once a year on each charge, on the duties of members towards their minister.
10. He shall give a report of the work on his field to the General Conference.
11. The chairman of the last Annual Conference in the General Conference term shall bring a full summary statistical report of the four years of his Conference to the General Conference.
The Presiding Elders are accountable to the Annual Conference of their district for the performance of their official duties.
1. The Executive Committee shall consist of one Presiding Elder, three travelling Elders, and three lay members; the Presiding Elder shall be chairman of the committee. These shall be elected by ballot from among the General Conference members at each General Conference for a General Conference term.
Vacancies of the above committee; if such occur for any reason, may be filled by the remaining members of the committee from among the members of the last General Conference.
2. In case there be no Editor for any reason, the Executive Committee shall meet and elect an Editor, who shall serve until the next General Conference.
3. The Executive Committee shall examine the Editor in case any charges are preferred against him, and if he be found guilty, and he does not meet the requirements of the committee they shall have power to suspend him from his office until the next General Conference where he shall be dealt with.
4. The Executive Committee shall constitute a court of appeal, which shall, if necessary, hold a session once a year, for the purpose of trying all appeals that may be taken by any travelling preachers from the decision of an Annual Conference. The chairman shall preside at the trial of appeal cases.
Five members of the committee shall constitute a quorum.
5. The Executive Committee shall meet whenever the chairman or any three members of the committee shall deem it necessary, and a majority of the members elected shall constitute a quorum for transacting business.
6. It shall have charge of the publishing interests, subject to the regulations adopted by the General Conference from time to time.
7. It shall settle all disputes on boundaries between Annual Conferences.
The Editor of the Gospel Banner is elected at each General Conference by ballot for a General Conference term. The duties of an Editor are:
1. To write or select articles for the Gospel Banner which are in harmony with our Discipline.
2. He may ignore or curtail any articles or testimonies of contributors in general which are unsound or detrimental to the general interest of the readers of the Banner to the best of his knowledge.
No Camp-Meeting report should cover more than one page, no Presiding Elder's report more than one column, no Obituary or death notice more than three inches, (ministers excepted), and no marriage notice more than one inch.
We allow no general advertisements; a notice of a good book or periodical once accepted.
3. He is to send the full subscription list of each charge annually to the pastor of the charge shortly before New Year when each pastor will collect subscription money before the 15th of January.
4. He shall notify the Presiding Elder of any pastor who fails to collect subscription money by the 15th of January.
5. He is held responsible for the doctrines of all articles which appear in the Gospel Banner with the exception of such which are contributed by associate Editors or endorsed by any Annual Conference or Convention.
In case any associate Editor advocates, or Annual Conference endorses any doctrines, rules, or regulations that are unsound or not in harmony with our Discipline through the columns of the Gospel Banner, the Editor shall not be held responsible, but such an associate Editor or Annual Conference shall be denied their special rights by order of the Chairman and the majority of the executive committee.
Any member or preacher who in any way undermines the Editor may be reported by the Editor or any one else to the Chairman of the executive committee, who, with or through one or more of said committee will investigate the matter; and if such an one is found guilty of the same, and does not render satisfaction he shall be dealt with according to Discipline.
OUR CONFERENCES ARE:
The first is held quarterly on each charge.
The second annually on each conference district.
The third every four years for the whole society.
ALL sessions are to be opened and closed with singing and prayer.
LET ALL, upon conference occasions, consider themselves as in the presence of God, and as laboring for him. Let each be openhearted and speak freely the convictions of his heart. Let the intermediate time be improved by private prayer for ourselves and one another, and especially that God may direct the business transactions of the conference.
ALL ACCOUNTS of the different conferences, Quarterly, Annual, and General, shall be audited at the time of the several conferences, by such two brethren as may be elected for that purpose at the time.
1. Question.Who are the members of the Quarterly Conferences?
Answer. All officers and all the brethren in full connection.
2. Q.Who shall appoint the time and place?
A.The Presiding Elder shall appoint the time on each charge, but the Quarterly Conference shall appoint the place.
3. Q. Who shall be the chairman of the Quarterly Conference.
A.The Presiding Elder; but if he cannot be present, he shall appoint a substitute.
The conference is to choose the secretary for the occasion.
The S. S. superintendents, class leaders, stewards, deacons, helpers and itinerant preachers, whether they have been faithful, godly, and unblamable in their demeanor, and to the charge entrusted to their care; and whether the members have conducted themselves properly and godly.
REVISION OF CLASS BOOKS.
The class-books of each minister in charge shall be revised annually at the last Quarterly Conference on their respective charges. Members who have moved away without reporting during the year, may be dropped according to the discretion of the Quarterly Conference, providing the minister in charge has done his duty towards them.
Question. Who are the members of the Annual Conference?
Answer. All ordained ministers except such as are mentioned on page 82, and such probationers who have charge of a work, and one delegate from each charge, elected by ballot at the last Quarterly Conference in the conference year.
Order of Procedure.
1. Enrollment of members and organization.
2. Adoption of Rules and Regulations.
3. Appointment of Committees.
4. The ministers shall give in their reports.
5. Each minister shall be examined with regard to his moral and official conduct and
whether he employs as much time as practicable to promote the kingdom of God according to Titus 1: 79, and 2 Tim. 2: 15; and if charges should be brought, the defendant shall be granted a hearing in the presence of the conference, and he shall be admonished or advised as the case may require. But, should all admonitions or advice fail in any case, then the name of the delinquent person shall be erased from Church connection.
6. Committee Reports.
7. What are the statistics of the conference?
In order to obtain these, each minister is requested to hand in the following schedule
properly filled out for his field of labor:
1. How many presiding elders?
2. How many ordained ministers?
3. How many on probation?
4. How many on probation to be ordained?
5. How many applicants for the ministry?
6. How many Q. C. licensed preachers and evangelists?
7. How many deacons?
8. How many stewards?
9. How many baptized?
10. How many received into church fellowship?
11. How many received by letter of recommendation?
12. How many members died during the past year?
13. How many have withdrawn?
14. How many expelled?
15. How many members are not baptized?
16. How many moved away?
17. How many transferred?
18. Increase of members?
19. Decrease of members?
20. Whole number of members?
21. How many appointments?
22. How many new appointments?
23. How many sermons preached?
24. How many pastoral visits?
25. How many prayer-meetings visited?
26. How often S. Schools visited?
27. How many classes?
28. How many new classes organized?
29. How many class leaders?
30. How many S. Schools?
31. How many new S. Schools organized?
32. How many officers and teachers?
33. How many scholars on roll?
34. What is the average attendance?
35. How many Union S. Schools?
36. How many subscribers to GOSPEL BANNER?
37. How many new subscribers received during past year?
38. How many churches?
39. How many parsonages?
40. What is the supposed value of church property?
41. Increase of church property?
42. Decrease of church property?
43. How much collected for church property?
44. How much collected for parsonage rent?
45. How much collected for S. Schools?
46. How much collected in S. Schools for foreign missions?
47. How much collected for ministers in cash?
48. How much received in other contributions?
49. How much collected for assistants?
50. How much collected for home missions?
51. How much collected for foreign missions?
52. How much collected for repairing church property?
53. How much collected for sexton and sundry expenses?
54. How much collected for presiding elders?
55. How much collected for tabernacle work?
56. How much collected for evangelistic work?
57. How much collected for missionary work?
58. How much collected for camp meetings?
59. How much collected for the poor?
60. How much collected for S. School conventions?
61. How much collected for self-denial fund?
62. How much collected for conference fund?
63. How much collected for beneficiary fund?
64. Total amount collected on your charge?
65. Name of pastor.
8. Who are the preachers that are willing to travel this year, according to the directions of the conference and our Discipline, and what is their number?
9. What is to be done in the Home Missionary cause?
10. What is to be done in the Foreign Missionary cause?
11. How are the circuits and missions assigned to the preachers?
12. Election of officers.
13. Where, and when, shall our next conference session be held?
14. Have the preachers given their successors sufficient information, and written appointments of their fields of labor?
15. Is there any other necessary business on hand?
16. After the proceedings of this conference have been correctly recorded, and adopted by the members, as a testimony of acquiescence and obedience, as in the sight of God, then, after the conclusion, let every one cheerfully and in peace, attend to his charge.
THE GENERAL CONFERENCE.
(Question.Who are the members of the General Conference?
Answer.Presiding Elders, editors, agent of book room, one delegate from every three hundred (300) members, and an additional one in case the fraction of members is 200 or more, elected by ballot at the last Annual Conference of General Conference term. Every alternate delegate elected shall be a lay member.
QWho shall preside over the General Conference?
AA chairman elected from among the Presiding Elders.
Mode of Procedure.
1. Election of chairman and secretary.
2. Who are the delegates?
3. What is their number?
4. Address of chairman.
5. Examination of the transactions of our Annual Conferences.
6. Are there any recommendations from the Annual Conferences to this Conference, with regard to the rules, formulas and regulations of our Church, on hand?
7. Summary statistics of our Church.
8. Is there anything to be done with regard to the rules and regulations of the temporal economy of our church?
9. How are the Annual Conference districts arranged, and how are they named?
10. What books are to be published? And what is the report concerning the printing and book establishment?
11. Election of officers of the printing and book establishment.
12. Any other business concerning the printing and book establishment?
13. What is to be done in the missionary cause?
14. What is to be done in the Sabbath school cause?
15. Is there any other business on hand?
16. Where and when shall the next General Conference be held?
17. After the proceedings of this conference have been correctly recorded, and adopted by the members, as a sign of acquiescence and obedience, as in the sight of God, then, after the conclusion, let every member cheerfully, and in peace, attend to his charge.
The Constitution and Government Thereof.
1. In our societies there shall be formed Sabbath Schools, which shall, if possible, meet each Sabbath in the year, at an appropriate hour, for religious instruction according to the Word of God as expounded in the standard of the Discipline.
2. When it is deemed practicable to organize a school, the minister in charge shall make it known to the Quarterly Conference, and if the Quarterly Conference deem it necessary, then he shall proceed to organize a school by electing officers.
3. The management of the school is to be entrusted to the superintendent (and the approval of the minister in charge,) who shall be elected annually, at the close of the year, at a regular meeting of the members of the Church.
4. There is nothing to be introduced into the schools except by the consent of the Quarterly Conference.
5. If any difficulties should arise that cannot be settled in the school, they are to be left to the Quarterly Conference.
Directions Concerning their Erection, and the Measures to be Adopted.
Question. - Is there anything advisable in regard to the building of meeting houses?
Answer.Let all our buildings be kept plain, and not more expensive than necessary for comfort and health, and with free seats.
Q.How shall the titles of the Church property be secured and deeded?
A. To a board of trustees and their successors in office, in trust, as the property of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ.
QHow is the board of trustees to be constituted?
A. The Quarterly Conference shall appoint a judicious board of trustees of three or more in number, as may be legally required.
Q. How long shall a board of trustees serve?
A.No trustee, or board of trustees, shall serve longer than one year without re-election. No person shall form a part of the board of trustees who is not a member of our society.
Wherever it is deemed necessary by the brethren of a charge or field to purchase a meeting house, burial ground, or lot upon which to erect a house of worship, or a parsonage, it shall be the duty of the officials to make it known to their Quarterly Conference.
Q.How are the trustees to proceed in building a meeting house or parsonage?
A.No board of trustees shall commence building, or purchasing lots, without first getting an act of incorporation, when the law of the State requires it. They shall give an estimate of the necessary cost to procure the lot and erect the house. They shall at no time proceed in the building of a house, before the means are at hand or sufficiently secured; and they muse always secure a lawful title for the grounds upon which they intend to build, and when the means are sufficiently secured, they are to proceed according to instructions given by Quarterly Conference.
The trustees shall hold meetings annually, or oftener, if need be. They shall elect chairman, secretary and treasurer from their number, and it shall be the duty of the secretary to keep a correct record of all the business transactions of the board in a book provided for that purpose, which shall at all times be open for inspection by the Quarterly Conference of the charge. The treasurer shall receive all funds for meeting house, cemetery and parsonage purposes, and pay out the same under the direction of the board. The secretary shall report to the board the financial condition at their several meetings.
The board shall make an annual report to the last Quarterly Conference, in the conference year.
No trustee board shall permit any outside party or parties to use the church without permission from their pastor.
A building committee may be appointed by the Quarterly Conference on special occasions if called for.
COURSE OF READING FOR PROBATIONERS.
Applicants for the ministry shall be examined on the whole Discipline by a written examination. They shall make 50 per cent in order to pass.
Bible, Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation, (chap. 15); Hand book of Christian Theology (chap, 13); Lessons in Holiness. Fisher's Church History pages (1240.)
Bible; Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation, (chap. 612;) Fisher's Church History pages 240484); Reformed Pastor; Handbook of Theology (chap.410.)
Bible; Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation, (chap. 13 to end); Fisher's Church History (page 484 to end); Nelson on Infidelity, Fletcher's Appeal; Handbook of Christian Theology, (chap. 11 to 14), Jesus is Coming, by W. E. B.
Probationers shall be examined by a written examination by a committee to be appointed by the Annual Conference. They shall make 20 per cent on the marks given on each book, and an average of 40 per cent on the whole in order to pass. No probationer shall be ordained until he has passed the Course of Reading for Probationers.
Any persons, who from love to the work of the Lord, desire to bequeath anything to the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Society, in their last will or testament, be it money or the worth of money, should devise it to the Annual Conference, to be disposed of, according to the good will of the donor, in the missionary cause, or support of the ministry; or, it can be left to the conference to be disposed of, where most needed, for the advancement of the cause of Christ.