First Community Church brings together individuals from various denominations and backgrounds to unite on a path to better understand God and his will for all of us. We strive to maintain the fullest freedom of individual conscience in matters of faith and practice of worship. Through the teachings of Jesus Christ we seek unity of purpose which creates a sanctuary for wellness, growth, and understanding. While on this journey in faith we believe we can find God’s grace and the peace that passes understanding.
We have no written creed or statement of faith. We do not adhere to any doctrine or dogma from any governing body outside of this church. As such we are both “non-denominational”, yet at the same time, “inter-denominational” in that we accept individual interpretations of the teachings of Christ. These are our principles:
- We are committed to the unity of all people who are interested in building the Kingdom of God on earth.
- We are not committed to the teaching, the form, or the program of any particular denomination.
- We promote and support the freedom of the individual conscience in all matters pertaining to religion. Religion, or any part of religion, that is dictated or super-imposed, ceases to be religion and becomes a formal, legalistic dogma that divides men and women and robs religion of its true essence.
Unity can never come through conformity to a particular creed, form, or name. It must rather come through a spirit of mutual tolerance and good will which will enable men, women, and children to work and worship together even though they may not all think alike.
An individual’s interpretation of the scriptures, how to establish and sustain a spiritual connection with God, the meaning and mode of baptism and the communion are all strictly matters for individual conscience to decide.
- We are missionary, particularly within the local community of Joplin and the surrounding area. We are committed also to playing a part in world religion in doing what we can to break down barriers of race, class, and creed. Our missionary efforts are focused on opportunities to serve as they present themselves, using a relationship with God, through the teachings of Jesus Christ, to live in harmony and peace with all members of each community.
- We believe in organization but we believe that organization must always be secondary. Organization and forms of church programs and worship are only for the purpose of serving life in accordance with God’s will, as best we can interpret it. Church organization must always be changed when necessary to fit the changing needs of life.
We seek a form of worship that is simple, impressive, and always flexible. In our worship we pass the communion emblems each Sunday morning so that people may partake of them just as often as they care to, or not at all, if they so choose.
Our membership also entails no specific duties or mandated activities by anyone. Individuals may become members of this church by simply informing the minister of their desire to do so. No oath is required. The degree to which anyone becomes involved in church activities or serves on governing boards or committees is also a matter of personal choice.
Our form of government is democratic. The government of the church is vested in the congregation which acts through an elected Board. The congregation owns its own property and determines all of its own policies.
All questions which should not be properly settled by the Board are settled by a vote of the congregation. Of course, these questions only concern policy; it is a part of the by-laws of the church that matters of faith shall never be a subject of vote; such matters are always left to the individual conscience.
The church is supported by free-will offerings from members and friends.
- We welcome and cooperate with every idea of truth and every movement of progress that makes for a better community and a better world. There is no conflict between real science and religion. Religion need not fear investigation or discussion. We believe we should always be willing to follow the truth wherever it may lead: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
- We are committed to preserving the principle of complete separation of church and state. We believe the church of Jesus Christ is not political in nature and that the state is not religious. We challenge our members to think independently and to vote accordingly but we do not advocate positions nor do we attempt to persuade. We encourage and anticipate diverse political thinking within our membership.
Welcome to All
With these general principles to guide us we welcome all who will come into this fellowship of the First Community Church. If you are interested and believe in this type of non-dogmatic quest for a spiritual connection with God through the teachings of Jesus Christ, we earnestly invite you to join us on this path. We want you to come only at the bidding of your own mind and conscience. If you can come that way, whoever you are, with any creed or with none, whatever your station in life, we invite you to come in the name of Him who said, “Whosoever will, let him come.” This church has no “test of fellowship,” save the test that each individual applies to his own understanding and conscience. We believe that whoever loves the Lord with all his heart and his neighbor as himself, or, in other words, whoever is striving to possess the spirit of Christ is eligible to membership in this church.
The First Community Church has an actual, working plan of Christian unity, mutual tolerance, and community service. We are made up of people who not only believe in unity but who are doing something about it. We have the conviction to go forward in a united and renewed quest for God’s will for all.
We do not claim to be perfect. Changes will come for the better, and they will always be made when needed. Today, we continue to serve, following our fundamental founding precepts and building on the progress which we have made since 1926.