1. A conferring fellowship is necessary so that ordained brethren can be of mutual assistance to each other in continuing to maintain the standards of the Gospel and the evangelical discipline of the Mennonite Church and to promote the general welfare of the Church of Jesus Christ.
2. The bishops shall plan to conferring fellowship meetings to be held at least twice a year. The bishop in charge of the church where the meeting is held shall serve as moderator. The brotherhood is invited to attend. Additional ministerial meetings may be called as the bishops direct.
3. The bishops shall organize themselves as necessary to assist each other to carry out their responsibilities. A 75% affirmative vote of the bishops shall be required to consider a matter passed.
4. When difficulties occur, the persons involved may appeal to the bishops and seek help to resolve the said difficulties. No complaint may be received unless the scriptural rule of 1 Tim. 5:19 be diligently followed.
1. We believe the church is an institution divine in its origin, plan, and destiny. We recognize the visible church as a body of believers organized for their mutual edification and for the advancement of the cause of Christ. We recognize her right to choose officials, to regulate the ordinances of the household of God., her authority from Christ to exercise discipline and maintain the standards of faith and practice required by the scriptures.
Inasmuch as the apostles filled a vacancy among themselves by the use of the lot as recorded in Acts 1:15-26, and since the use of the lot with prayer and dependence upon God is also advocated in other scriptures for use in important matters, we believe the use of the lot is a scriptural way of finding god’s will and promoting peace and unity in the church. Pro. 16:33.
We believe the ministry is called by the Holy Ghost and chosen by nominations and the casting of the lot when there are more nominees than needed.
2. When congregational ordinations are called for and are approved by the bishops and the local ministry, the counsel of the brotherhood is asked. If this counsel is favorable, the nominations may be received from the brotherhood.
The brethren who receive the required nominations (five for bishop, two or three for minister and deacon) and through examination and instruction give clear evidence of the qualifications given in I tom. 3-13;2 Tim. 2:2, and Tit. 1:6-9 shall share the lot.
3. It is the duty of the bishops to direct the instruction of applicants for church membership, to baptize the penitent believers, and receive them into the church with the counsel of the church, to administer the ordinances and to direct the suspension or excommunication of the disobedient in accordance with the Word and the discipline of the church.
4. It is the duty of the minister to preach the Word of God, to visit the sick, to warn sinners, to comfort and penitent, and to point them to faith in Jesus Christ. He may administer the ordinances in case of emergency when the services of a bishop cannot be secured at the time.
5. It is the duty of the deacon to visit the sick, and to receive and distribute charities to the needy members of the church. If difficulties arise in the church, the deacons upon approval of the ministerial body, shall investigate and endeavor to effect peace and unity. When no minister is present in the regular preaching service or by the direction of the ministry, the deacon shall conduct the service by scripture reading, exhortation, and prayer.
6. Bishops, ministers, and deacons shall cooperate in the administration of the discipline and in directing the engagements and appointments of speakers for public meetings.
7. According to Acts 20:33; 1 Cor. 9; 2 Thes. 3:8 and Gal. 6:6, the ministry shall not be salaried, but should support themselves as much as possible. The brotherhood should consider it a responsibility and a privilege to share their material blessings with the faithful ministry.
8. When an ordained brother moves from the appointed field to another area, his ministry shall be transferred upon the agreement of the ministry of the districts involved and also of the congregations involved.
9. Inasmuch as ordained brethren and their companions exert an influence in the constituency by their teaching and example., it is required for the spiritual welfare of the church that they give evidence of willingness to subscribe to and promote in their ministry these standards herein set forth.
10. Any ordained brother may be dismissed from office if he gives evidence of unfaithfulness in his Christian life if he teaches false doctrine, or if he refuses to accept counsel of the district ministry and Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church bishops.
1. The church consists of penitent believing, obedient members. Jno. 3:1-16; 1 Jno. 5:1; The ministry responsible for the instruction of applicants should be diligent in giving through teaching on the way of salvation., helping living the Christian live, and preparation for Christian service. After a period of such instruction applicants shall be examined to learn whether they are at peace, are penitent, believing, and willing to submit to the evangelical doctrine of nonconformity and nonresistance and the discipline of the church. Upon such evidence and with the counsel for the congregation they shall be received in the church upon confession of faith and water baptism.
2. The congregation shall be examined before communion to learn if the members are at peace and are willing to work in harmony with the discipline of the church. all members desiring to commune, should give their counsel. The following scriptures will be helpful to be used in this council service. Mt. 18:1-22; 5:21-26; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; 1 Cor. 3:12; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 4; Col 2.
3. Confession of sin shall be made personally to God. Inasmuch as sin influences the lives of other individuals and also brings reproach upon the church, therefore the church holds that where individual relationships and influence are involved the involved persons should make suitable confession one to another in the church when necessary to acquire peace in accordance with the teaching of Mt. 5:23, 24; Mt. 18:15-20; Jas. 5:16
Sins such as fornication, adultery, lawsuits, drunkenness and persistent worldliness and pleasure seeking shall be confessed publicly in accordance with the principles of such scriptures as Jos. 7:19; Acts 5:1-11;; 1 Tim. 5:20
4. When members absent themselves from communion or are unfaithful in the church they shall be visited and admonished. If, after receiving such admonition, giving with patience and love, they still refuse to support the church, they forfeit their membership.
5. Where grievances or differences arise between members, the members involved shall observe Mt. 18:15-18 and Mt. 5:23, 24. No bishop, minister, or deacon shall receive a complaint before the aforementioned scriptures have been complied with.
6. When members move from one bishop district to another, they shall present membership letters of standing from the congregation from which they came.
7. The brother hood should participate in and promote such agencies for teaching, fellowship, and Christian service that are consistent for the spiritual benefit of the brother hood, and for the carrying out of the great commission of our Lord in giving the Gospel to the world.
These agencies include Sunday schools, Bible instruction meetings, missionary meetings, church schools for youth, summer Bible schools, week day Bible schools, young people’s meetings, revival meetings, and Christian worker's meetings.
Evangelists and all church workers shall be Spirit filled, consistent members who are in the order of the church and shall be approved by the local ministry.
8. The education of our children in a wholesome Christian atmosphere is a Biblical imperative. We believe the church should assist parents in fulfilling this responsibility by sponsoring Christian day schools with a Bible-based curriculum Ps. 111:10; Deut. 6:6, 7.
Spiritual life and consistency shall be primary qualifications for all school personnel. The church administrators, to promote a Scriptural philosophy of education, and to encourage academic competence. We discourage our members from pursuing institutional higher education because of its emphasis on secularism and humanism. 1 Cor. 1:18-31; Col 2:3,8.
In order to maintain separation of church and state, our schools shall not accept government subsidies.
9. Books for church libraries shall be approved by the local ministry.
10. Since the New Testament teaches individual relationship with the Lord and since the Holy Spirit is given to every believer giving him joy which may be expressed in singing, and since spiritual life devotion are promoted by participation, congregational singing shall be engaged in in all regular worship, services. Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16
Singing in small groups may be engaged in for personal enjoyment and inspiration in the private gatherings in our homes, for the benefit of the sick and aged, as a Christian testimony in street meetings, in institutions such as jails, hospitals and charitable homes, and in a school setting.
11. Members shall support the activities of their own denomination rather that give active support to groups who do no uphold the doctrine of nonconformity, nonresistance, believers’ baptism, and separation of church and state.
12. Due to the contribution that mixed seating makes tot he moral breakdown, we will follow the practice of segregated seating for worship services. Weddings and funeral may be considered exceptions.
13. In keeping with the following scriptures. Ps 95:6; Phil. 2:10; Lk. 22:41; Acts 20:36, we will continue the practice of kneeling prayer in our worship services
1. Baptism shall be administered upon confession of faith, with pouring as the scriptural mode. Acts 2:38, 41; Acts 8:12; Acts 1-:44-48; Mt. 28:19, 20.
2. Communion is observed semiannually. We advocate a time of prayer and fasting previous to communion. Lk. 22:1-23; 1 Cor. 11:23-26.
3. Feet washing is observed immediately after communion. Jno. 13:1-17.
4. The church sanctions Christian marriage when both are believers and live a non-conformed and non-resistant life. Our members shall find their companions among those of like faith. The nuptials shall be announced in the church.
Members marrying otherwise are not privileged to counsel and commune until they acknowledge that they have transgressed the evangelical discipline of the church.
If a member marries one who is divorced, such a member forfeits his membership. Anyone married to and living with one divorced cannot be received into church fellowship. Persons with more than one marriage partner, living may be received into the church only if they live in celibacy. Members shall under not circumstances initiate nor agree to divorce proceedings. Mk. 10:1-12; Lk. 16:18; Eph. 5; Heb. 13:4.
When members marry, the bishop of the bride shall officiate. members who engage a minister of some other denomination to officiate in their marriage are under censure.
Weddings shall be conducted in a Christian manner avoiding all vain display and in accordance with the prescribed regulations for weddings.
5. The Christian Woman's Veiling
We recognize divine order of headship as it is taught in 1 Cor. 11:1-16; 1 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 14:34-38.
Every sister shall wear an appropriate veiling at all times for a constant testimony that she accepts her position as a Christian woman.
The hair shall not be cut and shall be free from current worldly hair arrangements which do not express a spirit of meekness and sobriety. We believe that it is the properly veiled head which is the sign of the Christian woman in God’s divine order. The covering shall be a two piece type of sufficient size to adequately cover the hair with the front piece being at least one and one-half inches side. The use of covering ties is considered an appropriate practice.
6. The salutation of the holy kiss should be observed and practiced by the believers, brethren among brethren and sisters among sisters, as an expression of fervent charity. It should be practiced when meeting for worship as well as when meeting for social fellowship and not only when observing the other ordinances. 1 Pet. 4:8; Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12, 1 Thes. 5:26; 1 Pet. 5:14.
7. According to James 5 we believe our members should avail themselves of the privilege to call for anointing with oil accompanied by the prayer of faith for healing Jas. 5:13-18; Mk. 6:13.
1. The Lord's Day shall be well observed by god’s people and shall be made a day of devotion and worship, Church services and Sunday schools shall be regularly attended, feasting and pleasure seeking shall be strictly avoided.
Members shall seek to avoid labor and business on the Lord's Day as much as possible. Both young and old shall be taught how to keep the Lord's Day holy and exercise themselves constantly in showing reverence for god’s house and all that pertains to it. Isa. 58:13; Rev. 1:10; 1 Cor. 16:2.
2. Gospel simplicity and economy should characterize our funerals. Flowers shall not be used in our funeral services.
The service shall be spiritually supportive. We encourage that the viewing be held after the message in the presence of the audience. Rom. 12:15
3. Inasmuch as our automobiles as well as all our possessions, are gifts from God, they should be in keeping with Biblical modesty and separation, and the use of them should always glorify God. The more expensive cars, cars with contrasting colors, sports cars as well as sports features on regular cars, and all striped tires, shall be avoided. The appearance and use of all our vehicles shall be consistent with these principles and regulations.
4. The church endeavors to give assistance in promoting spiritual growth among its constituency. Because of the value to our members and the testimony to the world, the practice of a uniform garb is urged in accordance with the principles and teaching in the following scriptures: Num. 15:37-41; Isa. 2:16-26; 1 Tim. 2:9, 10, 1 Pet. 3:3, 4; Rom. 12:1, 2; 2 Cor. 6:14-18.
The scriptural sense of modesty includes orderliness and consistency. Modest apparel expresses a sense of propriety and indicates the choice of a virtuous mind. To avoid the changing suits of apparel which are so common in the world today gives credence to uniformity in t he church. Church regulations are a solution to the problem of worldliness in attire.
Christian properly calls for one to be modestly dressed when in public and causes on to shun the unrestrained boldness manifest in present world practices such as superfluous, abbreviated, and form fitting articles of clothing. Recognizing these standards of the church are in accordance with scriptural requirement.
5. The following are accepted standards: For the brethren the regulation coat, plain hat, and black footwear. Other clothing or footwear shall not be of fashionable sporty, or Western styles. We believe that a necktie is unnecessary and shall not be worn. 1 Pet. 3:3, 4.
For the sisters. A modest plain cape dress without trimming shall be worn in all areas of public life. The dress shall have a least a mid-calf length skirt and three-quarter length or longer sleeves. materials shall not be transparent and shall be of subdued modest colors.
The maternity dress shall be recognizable as a cape dress.
The protective head dress should be a bonnet of consistent size with ties or bands of a serviceable type, suitable to be worn over the veiling. Fashionable head dress shall not be worn.
Hosiery should be black and of serviceable weight (at least 30 denier or its equivalent). Flesh colored hosiery shall not be worn. Isa. 47:1-3. Hosiery shall be worn in all areas of public life.For all members appearing in public with immodest types of clothes and footwear, anklet, low necklines, and those who expose their bodies in an immodest manner are subject to censure. The wedding ring is forbidden. Bracelet type watch bands, (including those with gold or silver edges). pins, and other ornamental extras shall be eliminated 1 Tim. 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:3, 4.
Parents should dress their children according to Gospel simplicity and teach them the serious results of following worldly practices and vanities prevalent today. Rom. 8:12, 13; Rom. 12:2.
7. Ordained brethren shall teach these standards diligently and admonish the brotherhood to teach the same.
1. Members shall not indulge in the world's methods of pleasure seeking, amusements and entertainments, patronizing or taking part in fairs, parades, circuses, moving picture shows, theaters, drama, public bathing resorts, organized contesting ball teams, dancing, card parties, races, various forms of gambling, scavenger hunts, mystery suppers, hayrides and such like.
2. In order to make the testimony of the church as clear and positive as possible, we urge that the brotherhood engage in such employment and follow such vocations as are helpful to physical and spiritual well-being and in harmony with spiritual principles. 1 Cor. 10:31.
3. Since the production and use of tobacco seriously affects our Christian witness and because of the harmful effects on the body, members shall abstain form the use, distribution, and production of tobacco. 1 Cor. 10:31; Isa. 55:2.
4. members are not allowed to manufacture, use, sell or distribute intoxicating drinks. Pro. 20:1; Hab. 2:15; 1 Cor. 6:10.
5. membership in secret societies, labor unions, and taking out life insurance are forbidden because in many ways such memberships necessitate transgressing the teaching of scriptures as related to nonresistance and nonconformity. 2 Cor. 6:14-18.
6. We believe the church should rise to her Christian stewardship privileges and obligations. Members should therefore not need to receive government subsidies, or social security and health care benefits and are encouraged not to do so.
7. Because of the effectiveness of the radio, to propagate evil and increased endtime deception, thereby destroying true spirituality in the home and church, its use is not permitted among our brotherhood. The use of a private system for business shall be considered an exception. Because of the evils of television, brethren and sisters who are responsible for the sale or use of the same forfeit their membership Video cassette recorder (VCR) entertainment systems shall not be used. We likewise sense the dangers of the new media such as daily papers and magazines in the home Ps. 101:3; Ps. 1:2.
Computers shall not be used for “Internet” connections to information pools such as the World Wide Web because of the detrimental effects that can have on spiritual life. computers with audio features capable of sight and sound combinations similar to videos and television shall not be used. Using the computer for games and entertainment is not permitted. We caution against the conditioning effect of “the screen” upon the separated way of life. 1 Cor. 15:33; 1 Thes. 5:21; Rom. 16:19b.
8. Recorded music should build appreciation for worship hymns of the church, and for congregational type singing. We believe that a capella singing is the form that most accurately represents new Testament principles as well as the historic Anabaptist, Mennonite faith.
Because of the highly emotional appeal of stringed instruments, and their prominent place in modern sensual music, they are not permitted for actual use or in our recorded selections. Electronic keyboard instruments which can automatically simulate the rhythm and temp of secular music are also objectionable, and are not permitted. We also sense the possible conditioning effect of the traditional keyboard interments.
A cappella singing and recorded selections that reflect the emphasis of modern ”gospel song” performer with their entertaining appeal should be eliminated. The songs we sing and to which we listen should be Biblically sound in content, and sung in a manner that glorifies God rather than man. Ps 40:3; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16.
9. The above regulations are for the guidance and blessing of the membership. All applicants shall accept the foregoing regulations and conform to them as soon as possible. Those who do not willingly accept them cannot be received into fellowship.
If members become proud and vain or show evidence of vanity and worldliness, they are to be visited and questioned as to the life and conduct. If, after a reasonable time they still remain obstinate they forfeit their membership.
If members shall willfully and knowingly violate the teachings of the scriptures as interpreted by the church such offending members shall be visited and the mater be requested to come before the church to acknowledge their error and ask for forgiveness. If they refuse to do so, they forfeit their membership. those members who stand by such who are our of fellowship place themselves in the same state.
1. This statement of Christian doctrine and rules and discipline shall be the working standard of the congregations and ordained Brethren of the Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church and Related Areas.
This is considered the minimum standard.
2. Procedure of Ratification of the Rules and Discipline.
After clear explanation to the membership, the ordained group shall have 50% of the vote, 80% is required to carry.
3. Changes and Revisions:
Inasmuch as issues will continue to arise to threaten the spiritual life of the church and because spiritual growth may lead to more scriptural forms of applying principles of the gospel, this statement of doctrine and church discipline shall be reviewed approximately every three years for the purpose of strengthening the church in her expression of Biblical principles.
A committee consisting of the bishops and an ordained bother from each district elected at a conferring meeting will serve as a discipline reviewing committee.
Any changes or amendments will follow the aforementioned procedure of ratification.
This committee shall not be a standing committee but will be appointed for each occasion.
4. Organized Outreach
For outreach activities the Mennonite Messianic Mission is considered the official organization whenever help is needed.
Articles of Faith (doctine)
(Taken for “Statement of Christian Doctrine and Rules and Discipline of the Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church and Related areas “1998”)
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