Churches of Christ in Australia
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The Churches of Christ in Australia is a Christian movement in Australia. It is part of the Restoration Movement with historical influences from the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
The Churches of Christ in Australia are made up of State Conferences which are an association of independent churches who choose to relate at a state and national level. Within this conference structure, individual churches are largely autonomous and operate on a congregational and democratic form of government. Leadership varies in local churches and where there are ministers or pastor they may or may not be formally ordained. Lay people usually play an important part in the worship, mission, governance and management of the church.
Key features of the church's worship are the weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper presided over by a lay person and believer's baptism. The denomination claims to "concentrate on the essential aspects of the Christian faith, allowing for a diversity of understanding with non-essentials." It is active in community services and supporting Christian unity, although this emphasis was stronger historically.
Churches of Christ is one of the smaller denominations by affiliation in Australia, and it has been shrinking. The 2001 Census showed 61,335 identifying, falling to 49,687 in the 2011 Census, which represents 0.2% of the population. This is compared with 61.1% of Australians who indicated religious affiliation with any Christian denomination. The National Church Life Survey 2001 showed that Churches of Christ had the highest attendance-to-affiliation percentage. The survey showed a regular estimated attendance of 45,100 (74%). Current attendance levels are not known.
Worship and devotion
Ministry and mission
National cooperative ministries (which are called 'National Agencies') include Global Mission Partners (formerly the Australian Churches of Christ Overseas Mission Board), the Stirling Theological College, the Australian Churches of Christ Indigenous Ministries, the Defence Force Chaplains Committee, Youth Vision Australia and the National Media and Communications Department.
Theology and values
The denomination claims to "concentrate on the essential aspects of the Christian faith, allowing for a diversity of understanding with non-essentials."
Theological education and formation occurs at the:
- Stirling College, located in Mulgrave in South-East Melbourne, is the group's national theological college. Its courses are accredited by the MCD University of Divinity. Stirling was formerly known as the Churches of Christ Theological College and before that the College of the Bible, and was located at Glen Iris before the Monash Freeway was constructed over where it stood. The college celebrated its centenary in 2007.
- Australian College of Ministries is a joint venture between New South Wales and Queensland Churches of Christ Conferences, and provides training in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and in England. Its courses are taught as part of the Sydney College of Divinity, with accreditation provided through state education departments.
Ordination, which is bestowed by the State Conferences, is open to both men and women.
History and heritage
It is part of the Restoration Movement with historical influences from the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The Churches of Christ in Australia are more similar to the Christian Church in the United States (most Churches of Christ in the United States sing a capella, whereas most Churches of Christ in Australia use musical instruments, as does the Christian Church in the United States).
There is a Federal Historical Society.
A small group met in Albion, Brisbane in 1871, however it was not until 1 August 1882 that C.M. Fischer and T Geraghty established the first Church of Christ in Queensland at the Zillman Waterholes (now Zillmere, Queensland ). The Ann Street Church of Christ was established in 1883  and moved into its present building in Brisbane's CBD in 1898.
The Churches of Christ Provident Fund was established to support paid ministers. Most of its role has been handed over to the non-denominational Christian Super fund.
- MCD University of Divinity
- National Council of Churches in Australia
- Sydney College of Divinity
- World Convention of Churches of Christ
- Haigh, George (1983). 100 Years Venturing in Faith. Brisbane: E K Williams Pty Ltd. p. 9. ISBN 0-909116-38-5.
- A century of witness, 1883-1983 / by Norman Watson
- Brisbane Travel Guide
- "H. R. Taylor's History of Churches of Christ in South Australia, 1846-1959". Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- Global Mission Partners
- Youth Vision Australia
- National Youth Ministry Convention
- The Australian Christian
- National Church Life Survey