Purposes & PrinciplesClick here to download the pdf version of AMEC Purposes & Principles.
- Our Commitment
- Composition of the Alliance
- The Purpose of the Alliance
- Statement of Doctrine
- Principles to Guide our Purpose
- Affirmations of Scripture for Today's Concerns
- Differing Applications among Believers
- Membership Agreements and Understandings
- Operation and Function
- Cooperation and Fraternal Relations
- A Heritage of Faith and Faithfulness
- The Alliance of Mennonite Evangelical Congregations (AMEC) is a fellowship comprised of committed Christians in committed Congregations of North America who embrace an evangelical identity within the bounds of the orthodox, apostolic teachings of Scripture, teachings which were re-affirmed in the ministries of the biblical Anabaptist reformers.
- Congregations who through their constituted leadership affirm the Statement of Doctrine without reservation and endorse the Principles and Purposes of AMEC, are welcome to join the Alliance as Member Congregations and partner with others for the cause of Christ Jesus and His Kingdom.
- Individuals who affirm the Statement of Doctrine and are committed to the Purposes and Principles of the Alliance but whose congregations may not yet be affiliated, may be received as Associate Members of the Alliance until such time as their congregations choose to affiliate.
- Member Congregations and Associate Members will relate to one another in geographical regions and may organize themselves at that level to implement the purposes of AMEC regionally, affirming the principles and adapting the organizational pattern of the North American Alliance to their local setting. (See: IX. Operation & Function)
- We believe the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative, written Word of God.
- We believe there is one God, Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and eternally existent in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- We believe that Jesus Christ was God in human flesh, at once fully divine and fully human. We believe in His virgin birth, His sinless life, His miracles, His vicarious and atoning death on the cross, His bodily resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the Father, His present ministry of intercession, and His personal return in power and glory.
- We believe that human beings were created in the image of God but rebelled against God and are therefore fallen, lost, estranged from their creator, and in need of salvation.
- We believe that only those who, by grace through faith, receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are converted, born again of the Holy Spirit, and thus become children of God.
- We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit who convicts persons of sin, brings them to repentance, enables the Christian to pursue a life characterized by personal holiness and faithful discipleship in obedience to Jesus Christ, and gives "spiritual gifts" to the church which enrich worship, provide for spiritual oversight, and enhance effectiveness in witness.
- We believe that the church, the "body of Christ," is composed of all those of every nation who through saving faith have entered into a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. We further believe that the church is at the very center of God's cosmic purpose, and that He has committed to the church and every member of it the task of making Christ known throughout the world.
- We believe that local congregations of baptized believers exist to equip the body of Christ through such means as worship, teaching, fellowship and prayer to spread the Gospel of Christ; to extend the influence of the Kingdom of God in the world; and to turn themselves outward to their local communities in evangelistic witness and compassionate service. We further believe that the quality of "body life" among believers in caring congregations is essential for effective evangelism and outreach.
- We believe that the reality of sin in the human heart results in suffering, injustice, strife, and moral decay in society.
- We believe that, in Jesus Christ, the way of love and reconciliation is revealed as God's way for His people and that the people of God are called to value the sanctity of human life, alleviate suffering, reject retaliation and personal vengeance, work for peace in all relationships, and to live as responsible stewards of all of God's creation.
- We believe that God instituted marriage and the family at the beginning of human history. Right sexual union takes place only within the marriage relationship, which is a covenant between one man and one woman for life, and the family formed from such a union is the God-ordained context for the birth and nurture of children.
- We believe in the resurrection of all people, those who are saved unto the resurrection of everlasting blessedness with the Lord, and those who are lost to eternal separation from God.
- We believe that, in the fullness of time, God will bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Biblically Rooted on the Foundation of Christ Jesus
A Radical Christianity - A Growing Christian Life
- Orthodox in the Unchanging Truth of Christ Jesus
Defining the Standards - Defending the Faith
- Biblically Evangelical in the Saving Grace of Christ Jesus
Proclaiming the Good News - Partnering for the Gospel
- Biblically Anabaptist as Faithful Disciples of Christ Jesus
Conforming to the Master - Citizens of His Kingdom
- Biblically Obedient to the Great Commandments of Christ Jesus
Worshipping Truly - Practicing His Love
- Biblically Mandated by the Great Commission of Christ Jesus
Extending the Kingdom - Ambassadors for the King
- Biblically Faithful in the Worldwide Body of Christ Jesus
A Holy Building - A Prepared Bride
- Holy Scriptures
We affirm our commitment to a high view of Scripture as the written Word of God. We believe that the Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments have been inspired, i.e. "breathed out," by God and thus bear the character of the God Who breathed them. For this reason, we do not hesitate to use terms such as inerrant, infallible, authoritative, altogether true and altogether trustworthy in describing the text of scripture.
- The Triune God
We affirm our commitment to the traditional understanding of the nature of God as Triune, one self-existent essence revealing and expressing Himself in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These are distinct in function but equal in power and glory.
- The Person of Jesus Christ
We affirm both the deity and the humanity of Jesus Christ. By this we mean that He was both fully God and fully man. Before His incarnation He was eternally with God the Father and was God. In His incarnation, He was miraculously conceived of the Holy Spirit without a human father and was born of a virgin. In His earthly existence He lived a life of sinless perfection and perfectly revealed the invisible God.
- The Substitutionary Atonement
We affirm our belief in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross as substitutionary atonement for the sins of the world. By this we mean that Jesus, as God in human form, did for us sinners what we could never do for ourselves in that He satisfied God's righteous demand that a penalty be paid for human sin. We hereby endorse, as a full and comprehensive statement of the true nature of the Christian Gospel, the article titled "The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration," (first published in the June 14, 1999 issue of Christianity Today
- Love, Peace and Nonresistance
We affirm our commitment to the Anabaptist distinctives of love and nonresistance in all human relationships. By "nonresistance" we mean: not using evil to resist evil, nor using evil means to seek retaliation. We desire to promote peace and justice rather than retaliation and vengeance as the way of Jesus in relationships between individuals as well as nations, yet we recognize that genuine peace can be realized only where there is a common commitment to Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. While the pursuit of peacemaking through political means may serve a humanitarian purpose, we believe that Christian peacemaking involves the proclamation of the Gospel through which people may be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ.
- The Kingdom of God
We affirm our commitment to the Kingdom of God and to a theology of the Kingdom. That is, we believe Christians are living expressions on earth of God's rule in heaven. Our primary allegiance is to Jesus Christ our King, and that commitment influences the way we live in the world and relate to the culture around us. Eschatologically, we believe the Kingdom of God exists as an "already-but-not-yet" reality. That is, while Jesus came to inaugurate the Kingdom, and while Christians live now under the rule and authority of God, there is still more to come at the final consummation of the Kingdom when Jesus will return to the earth in power and glory, God's people will be free from the power and presence of sin, and the Kingdom of Satan will be judged and condemned to everlasting destruction.
- Family and Marriage
We affirm our commitment to the family as a key element in God's plan for spiritual growth and emotional stability. We believe that the marriage of a man and a woman is a beautiful picture of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His bride, the church. We commit our energies and our influence to combat those forces which undermine the sacredness of the marriage covenant and weaken the fiber of Christian homes and families. We affirm the biblical ideal of monogamous, heterosexual marriage-one man for one woman until death. We believe that divorce is a violation of God's original intent for marriage, and we affirm the biblical prohibitions concerning divorce and remarriage. We reject any suggestion that homosexual activity can be consistent with the will of God for a believer, and we affirm our belief that sexual activity is reserved for a man and woman within the bonds of marriage.
- Relationships and Roles
We affirm our commitment to the principle of the essential equality of men and women in Christ as well as to the traditional understandings of the Bible's teaching on the subject of leadership, authority, and spiritual headship. We recognize the sovereignty of God in His distribution of spiritual gifts to men and women as He wills, but we reject the idea that leadership and authority are matters of gifting exclusively. We acknowledge that misunderstanding and misapplication of the headship principle have sometimes been an obstacle to women in the exercise of their spiritual gifts. At the same time, however, we reject the idea that essential equality and the exercise of gifting demand that we do away with role-distinctions in the home and in the church. We affirm our commitment to the biblical principle of spiritual leadership by men in the church and in the home. Within this affiliation, credentialing for positions of spiritual oversight and authority in member congregations will be limited to spiritually qualified males. (For a more comprehensive summary of the biblical teaching on this subject, we endorse "The Danvers Statement", produced by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.)
- Accountability and Discipline
We affirm our commitment to the principle of loving discipline and mutual accountability in the body of Christ. We propose the institution of a body of leaders, representing all member congregations in this new affiliation, who will be vested with responsibility for the spiritual oversight of this new affiliation and with commensurate authority to act appropriately in dealing with congregations who depart from conscientious adherence to the statement of faith and practice which the affiliation will ultimately adopt.
- Mission and Service
We affirm our commitment to evangelistic mission and the fulfillment of Jesus' "Great Commission" as the heart of the church's relationship to the world. While we encourage acts of compassion such as social ministries and relief efforts, we believe that the primary work of the church in the world is to declare the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and to invite all persons everywhere to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We recognize that fruitful evangelism will involve both proclamation and demonstration, and that meaningful "body life" within caring congregations is essential to effectiveness in evangelistic witness. (For a comprehensive statement on the significance and dimensions of Mission and Evangelism, we endorse the Lausanne Covenant.)
- Concerning the Doctrine of Creation
We affirm our belief in the creation of the universe by an intentional, personal, and supernatural act of God. Further, we reject the idea of any form of macroevolution (including so-called "theistic evolution") as an explanation for the origin of the universe. Within those parameters, however, we acknowledge that evangelical Christians differ as to the specific interpretation of the language in the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2.
- Concerning the Doctrines of Eschatology
We affirm our belief that Jesus Christ will return to the earth in power and glory at the end of this age, marking the culmination of the rule and reign of God on earth. We acknowledge a variety of interpretations among evangelical Christians regarding the specific details associated with the second coming of Christ, the final judgment, and the consummation of all things under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
- Concerning the Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man
We affirm our belief that the Bible teaches both God's sovereignty and human responsibility. We acknowledge differences among evangelical Christians as to which of these truths should be prior in any attempt to understand this important concept. We recognize that the belief systems historically known as Calvinism and Arminianism both represent honest attempts to understand the relationship between sovereignty and responsibility, and both fit within the framework of Christian orthodoxy.
- Concerning the Ordinances of the Church
We affirm our belief in the practice of two symbolic acts as "Ordinances" which the church is to observe until the return of Christ: Believers' Baptism and the Lord's Supper or Communion, which were established by Jesus with further instruction regarding their observance in the apostolic letters of the New Testament. This use of the term "Ordinance" is in a different sense than being "ordained" for Christian ministry or describing marriage as "ordained" of God. In addition to ordination for ministry or marriage, we acknowledge that some branches of the Mennonite Church have historically classified several other practices as "ordinances of the church," such as anointing with oil and prayer for the sick, footwashing, and the devotional head covering for women. While we recognize a case has been made from Scripture for these practices, and we encourage serious consideration of the Bible's teachings in these areas, we acknowledge a fundamental distinction between Baptism and Communion and these other practices. We further recognize that differences exist among evangelical Christians as to the appropriate place or meaning of some of these practices in the life of the church but we strongly encourage continued discernment of the application of all of Scripture for clear witness in today's world.
- Concerning Spiritual Gifts, the Work of the Holy Spirit, and Public Worship
We affirm our belief in the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit of God in the church and in the lives of individual believers. We acknowledge wide variation among evangelical Christians as to the particular ways in which the Spirit manifests Himself and His power in the church and in the world. This same variety extends to the style and content of public worship, including music preference, design of buildings, and times of services.
- Concerning the Sanctity of Human Life, Abortion, and Capital Punishment
We affirm our commitment to the sanctity of human life and to the belief that life begins at conception. We oppose abortion while we recognize that, in certain extreme cases, some fellow Believers perceive medical procedures, which may prevent the continuing development of the unborn, may be necessary in order to save the life of the mother. We are united in recognizing the importance of standing up for the interests of the unborn though we recognize differences among evangelical Christians as to how best to go about promoting or defending those interests and what tactics are appropriate. We also acknowledge differences among evangelical Christians on the role of the state concerning capital punishment and the manner in which it is exercised. As Anabaptist Christians, with a commitment to justice and to nonviolence, we encourage all believers to carefully examine their convictions in these areas and to adopt a position that is both just and consistently values life.
- We affirm the right of the Alliance of Mennonite Evangelical Churches (AMEC) to govern itself. The governing convictions of AMEC are expressed in a Statement of Doctrine. The Statement of Doctrine derives its authority from the Bible. The governing convictions of AMEC are specifically spelled out in the constitution and bylaws. If a conflict arises between biblical interpretation and either the Statement of Doctrine or the constitution and bylaws, AMEC will choose to follow the Scriptures (Acts 5:29).
- As an organization, AMEC recognizes that all human beings are created by God, (Genesis 1-2). For our congregations located in the United States of America we recognize that citizens of the United States have been granted rights by the United States Constitution regardless of race, gender, religion, age or disability. Similar rights and protections are afforded persons to whom our congregations minister in Canada. We recognize the obligation placed on us by Romans 13:1-7 to respect and obey human government, to be law abiding citizens, and to respect the civil rights of those with whom we disagree (Romans 12: 9-21). We do not believe that any kind of physical or psychological acts of violence toward those of different points of view are to be engaged in or tolerated by members of the Alliance of Mennonite Evangelical Congregations.
- Striving to be responsible before God and one another, we hereby state our convictions concerning matters of specific concern. The following are specifically highlighted so anyone seeking membership in or participation with congregations associated with AMEC may completely understand the convictions and practices that the Alliance embraces.
- The desire of AMEC for the Body of Christ is wholeness in all moral choices and behaviors. Therefore, we want to speak a clear and loving word concerning sinful practices and behaviors. Such practices and behaviors as listed below (b.) are destructive to this wholeness. It is the intention of AMEC to be involved in ministries of transformation, believing that transformation is truly possible under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
- We believe that any congregation, congregational member, or pastor who is practicing behavior that the Scripture would identify as sexually immoral shall not be granted membership in this Alliance. Scripture outlines some of these behaviors in 1 Corinthians 5:9, 6:9-10, and Galatians 5:19-21.
- Members or congregations affiliated with AMEC that are found to be engaged in these sinful practices and/or characteristic behaviors will be asked to repent of their sin and cease from the practices or behaviors. If such practices or behaviors are not ended, the Alliance or its regional Associations can dismiss the member or congregation from membership in accordance with the procedure of church discipline (Matthew 18:15-20). The termination process shall be on a case-by-case basis with the prayerfully applied guidance of the Scriptures (i.e., Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 18; Matthew 19:11-12; 1 Corinthians 5:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-4; and Galatians 5:19-21.) Congregations which permit or advocate these sinful practices or characteristic behaviors shall be disfellowshiped from AMEC until such time as true repentance accompanied by a change in practice is evident.
- Congregational Autonomy. It is understood that AMEC does not intend to usurp or replace the functions, responsibilities or biblical autonomy of member congregations or their leadership but rather seeks to assist and enable the congregations to carry out and fulfill their God-ordained Callings, Commissions and Conduct.
- In addition to the commitments to the doctrines and principles described in this document and which the congregations of the Alliance hold in common, individual congregations may wish to define in more detail their particular emphases and practices or choose to be more specific on certain theological positions, based on their biblical understanding and in keeping with their spiritual heritage for the sake of clear witness in their own communities.
- This autonomy of a congregation, however, does not imply autonomy from the Authority of Scripture and its clear teachings, nor should it prevent the receiving of biblical counsel and loving appeal of fellow believers given for the sake of mutual accountability in the Body of Christ.
- Regional Associations. Wherever in a given area, a sufficient number of Member Congregations or Associate Members of the Alliance find it possible to meet regularly for fellowship, provide encouragement and maintain mutual accountability, a regional Association or an affinity group may be developed to carry out the purposes of the Alliance in specific regions.
- Regional Associations may be organized with their own guidance committees as deemed necessary or helpful and may include involvement with local institutions, regional ministries and area opportunities. For the purpose of mutual edification and partnership in mission, Regional Association will communicate with the Alliance regularly, sharing their vision and burdens, and reporting on their ministries.
- Regional Associations shall maintain their commitment to the doctrines and biblical principles of the Alliance and have responsibility on behalf of the Alliance in credentialing Christian workers and fostering accountability of leadership.
- AMEC is open to cooperating where Biblically appropriate with other Believers and Christian organizations who hold to the essential truths and foundational teachings of the Holy Scriptures, though in some matters, such as polity or the application of these truths, they may hold to differing convictions, so long as these do not violate the standards of God's written Word.
- AMEC congregations may choose to maintain appropriate fraternal relationships or ties with bodies or programs with which they have historic ties or had previous relationship in the past, providing these do not result in compromise of basic biblical convictions or principles or confuse a clear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Where possible, as opportunities and resources permit, the Alliance will seek to assist other Evangelicals believers in coming to better understand the role the biblical Anabaptist movement had in developing biblical evangelicalism, and at the same time help other Anabaptists discover and recover the evangelical convictions that were at the heart of our Anabaptist heritage and identity.
- An unadulterated, pure doctrine.
- A scriptural use of the sacramental sign (baptism and communion).
- Obedience to the Word.
- Unfeigned brotherly love.
- bold confession of God and Christ (even in the face of persecution).
- Oppression and tribulation for the sake of the Lord's Word."
In order to maintain a Biblical, Anabaptist and Evangelical heritage, we purpose to develop a partnership as a voluntary association of congregations in alliance with one another with a common commitment both to the doctrinal foundation of evangelical orthodoxy and to the worthy tenets of historical Anabaptism. Through this alliance, characterized by a unity based on Truth, a context is provided for identification, fellowship, accountability, ministerial credentialing, and cooperative efforts to enable affiliated congregations to faithfully fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
By "Evangelical" we mean, among other things, a commitment (a) to the Bible as the inerrant and authoritative Word of God; (b) to the need for every human being to repent of sin and come to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; and (c) to the divine mandate that the church take this message of salvation (the "evangel") to all who have not yet believed.
By "Anabaptist" we mean, among other things, a commitment of Believers (a) to discipleship as the heart of true Christianity; (b) to Believer's Baptism and the church as a voluntary and disciplined community; and (c) to the ethic of Christian love and nonresistance in human relationships. [For a more comprehensive description of the relationships of these components in Evangelical Anabaptism see For the Sake of the Kingdom, by Eric Kouns (EAF, 2000).]
The purpose of the Alliance of Mennonite Evangelical Congregations is to Partner in order to faithfully Preserve, Promote and Propagate the Biblical Christian Faith as Believers from an Evangelical Anabaptist perspective, providing biblical fellowship and mutual accountability to enable congregations, guided by the Holy Spirit, to pursue their objectives of missions, evangelism, discipleship, credentialing, nurture, and biblical ministries of witness and reconciliation, committed to a unity in Christ based solely on the truth of the Scriptures and summarized in a basic Statement of Doctrine.
The Statement of Doctrine expresses as a summary of our Faith, the essentials of the Gospel and the basis of our Unity in Jesus Christ. It is affirmed as the convictions of the Alliance of Mennonite Evangelical Congregations (AMEC).
Believing the Bible to be fully infallible and continually authoritative, as we unite as an Alliance of Congregations we purpose to become and remain:
To promote clarity in understanding and to avoid confusion in our world, we believe it is essential for our generation to address several specific areas of concern where we believe the scriptures speak clearly to issues which impact both the church and the society at large. In so doing, we wish to set forth at the outset the position on these issues which all congregations desiring membership in the new affiliation will be expected to affirm. In some cases, these statements will simply expand upon a particular doctrinal declaration already set forth in the Statement of Faith above. In other cases, these statements speak to matters in which the application of doctrinal truth affects the behavior of believers in the church, in the home, and in the society at large.
The foregoing section summarizes those areas of faith and practice which we believe to be essential to the testimony of Christ which God is calling us to exhibit in AMEC, though it is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. In addition to the delineation of essential matters, we acknowledge areas of belief and practice where differences can exist among believers within the parameters of biblical orthodoxy. In these areas and within these parameters, we acknowledge the variety of expressions that currently exist in the body of Christ, and we recognize the likelihood of differences among our member congregations in many of these areas.
Members of the Alliance will seek to be united on the statements of affirmation while recognizing possible differences in the way Evangelical Believers apply these Truths to understanding or conduct.
As with the section on essentials, this listing of areas where we recognize differences among us is illustrative, not exhaustive nor comprehensive. The Bible remains our Final Authority and as the Word of God we are bound to submit our minds and will to it whenever it is clearly discerned.
The Alliance shall be comprised of Member Congregations who through their constituted leadership are in agreement with the Statement of Doctrine and Principles of AMEC and have completed the application process, affirming the Membership Purposes and Guidelines; and of Associate Members who as individuals not in a Member Congregation, are likewise in agreement and have completed an application for individual membership.
As members we agree to comply with the following understandings:
We receive with gratitude the biblically based theological heritage of faith expressed in earlier Statements of Belief, Confessions of Faith and Catechisms of our spiritual forbears. Specifically we commend the foundational statements of The Schleitheim Confession (1527), The Dordrecht Confession of Faith (1632) and The Mennonite Articles of Faith (1766) as worthy and helpful guidelines, still relevant for our convictions and the application of the Scriptures to Christian living in our generation as "Congregations of Christ".
We affirm with the Reformers, including the evangelical Anabaptist Reformers that, based on the Authority of Scripture alone, our eternal salvation is by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.
We commit ourselves to pass on to coming generations a renewed understanding and deep appreciation of the missionary vision, the evangelistic zeal, and the passion for truth of the Anabaptist Reformers who passed on to us their Christ-centered, biblical faith as such great cost.
Menno Simons outlined "The True Signs by Which the Church of Christ May be Known" when he wrote:
"Those true signs are:
We confess, by the Grace of God, as congregations we are called to no less.