Free church covenant of God's church
The Free Church Covenant of the Church of God is a free church in the tradition of the sanctification movement . She sees herself as evangelical . It has its roots in the Church of God (Anderson) , engl. Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) , and is loosely associated with it today.
Synonyms and other languages
The English name Church of God is used by various denominations and independent churches in English-speaking countries. To distinguish it from other churches of the same name, the church referred to itself in the past as the Church of God (Anderson, IN). But the name Church of God is also used several times in German-speaking countries. In the 1990s there was a renaming in Germany. The official name is now Free Church Federation of the Church of God (FBGG).
According to Georg Schmid, the church of God (Anderson) has 2,338 churches with 199,000 church members in the United States, 2,115 churches with 165,000 church members in mission areas, and 33 churches in Germany with around 3,000 church members.
Frank S. Mead gives 538,986 church members in 83 countries in 1993.
In 2007 the Church yearbook reports 2,261 wards and an average attendance of 249,845 in the United States. Worldwide it counts 817,572 believers in 7,375 congregations and 88 countries.
The Church of God sees the whole Bible (excluding the Apocrypha ) as the foundation of faith. The Bible is considered the inspired word of God. For this reason, in the past, people had a distant relationship with formulated confessions. This has changed so that today pre-formulated confessions can also be seen as helpful (e.g. the Apostolic Creed).
The core of the teaching of the Church of God is the personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who died on behalf of the guilt of the people in order to make forgiveness of sins possible. This must be accepted through a life reversal (“conversion”) in faith. The believer is enabled by the power of God to grow spiritually (“sanctification”).
The unity of all people who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is emphasized. They all belong to the global church of God, which is not identical to the organization of the same name. Therefore there are many contacts with Christians of other denominations. This unity is first of all a fixed requirement (1 Cor. 12) and is then also expressed in everyday life.
Worship and practice
Services are seen as the center of community life. In addition to a sermon interpreting the Bible (OT and NT) and a common prayer, spiritual chanting of classical and modern songs is an important part of the worship service. There is no fixed liturgy, even if a blessing usually closes the service.
The church of God teaches and practices believing baptism through total immersion . Baptism, however, is not to be equated with admission into the church, but rather an invitation from Jesus to make his decision of faith public. Baptism visibly expresses the process of conversion (Mt 28: 18-20; Rom 6: 3f.). Baptisms that were carried out within the framework of other congregational federations are usually recognized (e.g. EFG , FeG ).
The Lord's Supper is a memorial and community celebration. The believer recalls the vicarious atoning death of Jesus through bread and wine.
Baptism and the Lord's Supper are expressly understood not as sacraments , but as ordinances; they do not in themselves convey salvation, but physically express a spiritual truth. Only when the spiritual truth behind the ordinance is accepted in faith does it have a faith-strengthening effect. Another ordinance practiced in many of the communities is the washing of the feet .
The basis for dealing with ethical questions are above all the double commandment to love (Mt 22: 37-39) and the Ten Commandments. Positive (“you should”) and negative (“you shouldn't”) formulations are used to respond to these questions. The latter also includes conveying values through the media. We advise against their use if they glorify the violation of God's commandments, e.g. B. in relation to atheism , violence , occultism and adultery .
In the church of God there is no formal membership. In their view , all who believe in Jesus Christ and have chosen to be Christian are members of the body of Christ. Local congregations are neither structured as an association nor as a corporation, but can be legally represented in Germany by the Free Church Federation of the Church of God eV based in Hamburg . In Fritzlar is located her training seminar, the Christian Education Center Fritzlar.
Daniel Sidney Warner was initially a preacher in the denomination General Eldership of the Church of God in North America founded by Winnebrenner . After being confronted with the Wesleyan doctrine of perfection , he recognized the greatest evil of Protestantism in its fragmentation. In 1881 Warner separated from this church and with it several others who were of the same attitude. This group got together and put together a seven-point program:
- Absolute openness to all biblical teachings
- Leadership of the church by the Holy Spirit
- Separation from all human denominations
- Conversion as membership in the Church
- No human organization of the church
- Unity of all converted Christians
Warner became editor of Gospel Trumpet magazine . Initially, the points made at the beginning were adhered to, and only the publishing house was organizationally structured in the first years of the movement. Soon, however, yearbooks were published with the names of the preachers. The ministers' meeting and the publishing house (The Gospel Trumpet Company) were placed under a mission council.
In 1894 the first church service of the Congregation of God in Germany was held in Hamburg . Several communities were quickly founded in the Ruhr area . These congregations later became known as the Mission Association of the Church of God and eventually came together to form the Free Church Covenant of the Church of God . The Gospel Trumpet has been published in German since 1895 and has also been printed in Germany since 1922. Missionaries from the USA founded further churches in Russia , Latvia , Poland , Hungary , Bulgaria , Greece and Switzerland at the beginning of the 20th century .
The Free Church Federation of the Congregation of God is a member of the Association of Evangelical Free Churches in Germany and works locally with other churches and communities on the basis of the Evangelical Alliance . Individual local congregations work in the Working Group of Christian Churches .
Christian educational institution Fritzlar
The pastors of the Free Church Federation of the Congregation of God are usually trained at the Fritzlar Christian Training Center , the theological seminary of the Federation. In addition to a diaconal course (2 years), future pastors usually go through the pastoral course (4 years + annual internship). The Fritzlar Christian Educational Center is in cooperation with the Martin Bucer Seminar .
The Bethesda-Verlag publishes the official journal of the FBGG Perspektiven every two months . Being a Christian and church today out (until 1992 Gospel Trumpet ),.
- Free church covenant of God's church
- Christian educational institution Fritzlar
- "Perspectives - Christianity and Church Today"
- "Children's Fund Global Care Foundation"
- Church of God (Anderson) (English)
- Georg Schmid: Churches, Sects, Religions , 2003.
- Frank S. Mead (revised by Samuel S. Hill): Handbook of Denominations in the United States (10th ed.). Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tenn. 1995.
- 2007 Yearbook of the Church of God , p. 363.
- Handout on community practice . Bethesda, Wietzendorf 1997.
- Jürgen Tibusek: One belief, many churches. The Christian Religious Communities - Who They Are and What They Believe. (= ABC team. Volume 1008). Brunnen, Gießen 1994. ISBN 3-7655-1008-4 , p. 365f.