Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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Protestant denomination, one of several known as "the Christian Church"; began in the early 1800s through the work of three ex-Presbyterian ministers (Thomas and Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone). In 1832, their congregations joined together to form the Christian Church. Initially strongly congregational in polity, the Disciples more recently assumed a strong national body. The general assembly meets biennially. It elects a general board, which then elects those to serve on the administrative committee, which is in charge of implementing programs between assemblies. The Disciples practice baptism of believers by immersion and celebrate the Lord's Supper every Sunday as a memorial meal.

The Disciples has been subjected to church-sect analyses by Whitley (1955) and, more thoroughly, the Stone-Campbell movement generally, by Bungard (1985). Recently, the Disciples engaged in a major self-study, which relied heavily on research by social scientists.

André Nauta


J. E. Bungard, Becoming a Denomination , Doctoral dissertation, University of Kansas, 1985

O. R. Whitley, "The Sect to Denomination Process in an American Religious Movement," Southwestern Social Science Quarterly 36(1955): 275-282.

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