The definition of “church” endorsed by the Church is derived from the New Testament. It is the translation of the Greek word ecclesia, which is synonymous with the Hebrew word kahal in the Old Testament. Both words mean “an assembly” in the sense of the whole body of professing Christians in a particular city or in the world, whether gathered together in one place or in several places for religious worship.Our Church rejects a definition of church that is restricted to a physical place of meeting or a “brick and mortar” building of worship.
On May 15, 2010, the directors of the Church adopted a Resolution to restate the Church’s theology and practice of worship. The text of this resolution follows:
Our use of the word church is that defined in the New Testament. In the New Testament it is the translation of the Greek word ecclesia, which is synonymous with the Hebrew kahal of the Old Testament, both words meaning simply an assembly, the character of which can only be known from the connection in which the word is found.
There is no clear instance of its being used for a place of meeting or of worship, although in post-apostolic times it early received this meaning. Nor is this word ever used to denote the inhabitants of a country united in the same profession, as when we say the “Church of England,” the “Church of Scotland,” etc.
The word church from the Greek word ecclesia is used in the following senses in the New Testament:
It is where a few people gather for worship.
It denotes the whole body of the redeemed, all those whom the Father has given to Christ, the invisible church ( Ephesians 5:23Ephesians 5:25 Ephesians 5:27Ephesians 5:29 ; Hebrews 12:23 ). All the Christians in a particular city, whether they assembled together in one place or in several places for religious worship, were an ecclesia. Thus all the disciples in Antioch, forming several congregations, were one church ( Acts 13:1); so also we read of the “church of God at Corinth” ( 1 Corinthians 1:2 ), “the church at Jerusalem” ( Acts 8:1 ), “the church of Ephesus” ( Revelation 2:1 ), etc. The whole body of professing Christians throughout the world ( 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13 ; Matthew 16:18 ) are the church of Christ. The children of all who thus profess the true religion are members of the visible church along with their parents. Children are included in every covenant God ever made with man.
Worship happens not just in a congregation setting but more often:
- When Clergy gather in worship during monthly Ministers’ training;
- When Clergy and their families gather in worship during their quarterly retreats led by the Chief Governing Official;
- When the community gather together in worship to appoint or ordain new Clergy at a Celebration of Ministry Service;
- When Clergy gather with community members to solemnize a couple in holy matrimony, in any location.
- During our e-church services no less than once a month at the call of headquarters.
- In our Pastoral Care Hubs whenever clergy and the focus of their ministry come together for Pastoral Care
- In House church gatherings in Clergy’s home;
- During visitations to nursing homes or hospital patients who request a Bible reading or Prayer, whether in a hospital chapel or in a patient’s room;
- At ad hoc spaces rented for worship services from time to time;
- When Clergy are invited as speakers to other denominations’ church services;
- When Clergy gather with community members to celebrate the sacrament of baptism, in any location;
- When Clergy gather with community members to celebrate a funeral service, in any location;
- Worship can happen in an online chat situation
- Worship can help in our telephone distress call situation.
In other words, the expressions of worship of the members of the Church in any Province has expanded greatly. Worship for us happens wherever a gathering of like-minded people comes together. It can take a variety of forms and expressions. Worship may or may not have traditional elements in it, and is not confined by traditional understanding of worship.