Welcome to our church site! Simply put, we are a collection of followers with resolute faith. We believe that if we love God and let it show us how to love each other, the world will take notice and follow in kind!
It is the goal of our church to provide spiritual and social development for modern Christians that takes the best of both worlds and puts them together into one powerful organization. By giving a number of small congregations throughout an area the opportunity to reap the benefits of the small group church experience while having the advantages of a larger church, we are able to have a church that is both intimate and stable.
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We are of the historical "early church", Christian faith.
We've known God's plentiful grace.
We've experienced God's eternal mercy.
We've seen proof of God's unfailing love.
Whether you're new to the area or have recently found yourself wandering in search of a new spiritual home, we may be your answer. When you find a local center that meets your spiritual needs, you become a witness to God's love. We seek to demonstrate and experience that love by bearing witness to hope.
To bring people to a faith in God, raise them up in that faith, and then send them out to share the faith through their areas of influence.
No matter what else we're doing, we hold steadfast to four values that are supported by love and define who we are:
Transformational religious teaching
To create a community of followers marked by steadfast faith and unconditional love.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
• There is one God, the Father (1 Cor. 8:6), the one God of the creed of Israel affirmed by Jesus Christ (Mark 12:28).
The Father is "the only true God" (John 17:3).
• There is one Lord Messiah, Jesus (1 Cor. 8:6), who was supernaturally conceived as the Son of God (Luke 1:35),
and foreordained from the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:20).
• The Holy Spirit is the personal, operational presence and power of God extended through the risen Christ
to believers (Ps. 51:11).
• The Bible, consisting of the Hebrew canon (Luke 24:44) and the Greek New Testament Scriptures, is the inspired
and authoritative revelation of God (2 Tim. 3:16).
• In the atoning, substitutionary death of Jesus, his resurrection on the third day, and his ascension to the right hand
of the Father (Ps. 110:1; Acts 2:34-36), where he is waiting until his enemies are subdued (Heb. 10:13).
• In the future visible return of Jesus Christ to raise to life the faithful dead (1 Cor. 15:23), establish the millennial Kingdom on earth (Rev. 20:1-6, etc.) and bring about the restoration of the earth promised by the prophets (Acts 1:6; 3:21; 26:6, 7).
• In the regenerating power of the Gospel message about the Kingdom (Matt. 13:19; Luke 8:12; John 6:63), enabling
the believer to understand divine revelation and live a life of holiness.
• In baptism by immersion upon reception of the Gospel of the Kingdom and the things concerning Jesus (Acts 8:12; Luke 24:27).
• In the future resurrection of the saved of all the ages to administer the renewed earth with the Messiah in the
Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 2:26; 3:21; 5:10).
• In the existence of supernatural, cosmic evil headed by (the) Satan (Matt. 12:26) or Devil, as distinct from and in addition to human enemies and the natural evil of the human heart. Satan is the name of a wicked spirit personality,
"the god of this age" (2 Cor. 4:4; cp. Eph. 6:12). And in the existence of demons (daimonia) as non-human
personalities whom Jesus addressed and they him (Luke 4:41; James 2:19). He is defeated and we need not fear him.
• In the freedom "under grace" and not "under law," inaugurated at the cross in the New Covenant, in contrast to and replacing the Mosaic covenant enacted at Sinai (Gal. 3 and 4; 2 Cor. 3). Issues of physical circumcision and "the whole law" (Gal. 5:3) associated with circumcision, including calendar and food laws, are concerns of the old and not the new covenant. Compare Col. 2:16-17 where the temporary shadow is contrasted with the permanence and newness of Christ.
• Christians ought never to take up arms and kill their enemies and fellow believers in other nations (Matt. 26:52; John 15:19; 18:36; 1 Pet. 2:9-11; 1 Chron. 22:8).
The Apostle's Creed
We believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
In The Beginning...
We can only imagine what it must have been like to really have been in the body of believers during the time of the early church. It is disappointing to see how institutionalized the church has become since then, and how many people have been lost in its generic nature. We are taught in large groups instead of being able to ask questions or offer an insight. Pastors are often under pressure to be all things to all people. Then too, many people have been disillusioned by what they perceive as fruitless and sometimes fraudulent spending of the money donated to Christian ministry. Many people are also frustrated with “church policies” which attempt to legislate behavior and authority, reducing or completely blocking the effectiveness of the holy spirit of God, often making them feeling unfulfilled, or worse, being made to feel that they are unloved outsiders.
The Church of the Ancient Christian Faith’s (COTACF) function is to develop small group churches in homes and other meeting places, and to be able to help place people in groups where they can feel comfortable and be free to express their needs and concerns before like minded group members, and get straight answers to honest questions. We believe that many people in our community would respond to this system better than to a formal church setting. Services can be held on different days of the week so as to make it easier to allow people to connect to a group when they are most able, and to allow qualified leaders to test the waters to see if sheparding a group is right for them.
Toward this end, we are always seeking elders and deacons for home church leadership. We are also seeking those who could open up their home or meeting space to hold a church service but not necessarily lead the group.
Elders and deacons are not required to have formal Bible college training, but those who have been eager seekers of the Word and are driven to reach and teach others for the cause of Christ, and are mature in their faith. Our programs for leadership development are exciting and amazingly eye-opening. We examine some of the ways that “church” can be made better by going back to the original ways that Christians conducted themselves and their meetings.
Who We Are
Our core beliefs are often similar to many mainline denominations, but how we apply those beliefs is what sets us apart.
We believe first and foremost, that Jesus was the perfect example of human behavior, in both his life and death, and by following His words and ways we can live lives that are truly Christian. In order to do this we must live Mark 12:30-31. By loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, and by loving and caring for our neighbors as ourselves, and really doing it, not just talking about it, that only then can we become as God truly wants us to be. The result of this is that we look at how we can enrich others as much as ourselves, and often go without some of the “material extras” to give to others, which we do with great enthusiasm, because we truly love and care for them.
We also believe that tithing, giving the required tenth, does not apply to the modern church. We follow 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. Those who sow generously, reaps much, and that we give not out of reluctance or pressure from others, but out of excitement in being able to contribute to the work of God. We also recognize that many need to spend their money to provide just the basics for their families, or are getting out of debt, so these people are encouraged to donate time, talent or other resources as their contribution.
We also welcome the kind of people that Jesus associated with. We are not concerned how you dress, your position in life or what sin you struggle with, but only that you come and accept the love and healing that God wants for you. For us, humility, acceptance and forgiveness bring great power and freedom through Jesus Christ. These are but a few of the things that we believe that often set us apart from other churches.
We feel that there is an important perspective to be embraced from the account of the people (Acts 17:10-12) in the city of Berea, which is now in modern day Greece. They were a noble, fair-minded group who were eager to receive the message that the apostle Paul brought them, and they also checked the scriptures daily to verify that he spoke the truth. Too many churches today are made ineffective by people accepting the “denominational line” without studying the word for themselves. No denomination or pastor is infallible! None!
Our services allow for interaction, based on 1 Cor.14:26, and are designed to edify and strengthen believers. The primary form of service is in a small group meeting, where each group is its own church, generally meeting in a home. They pick the style and form of the service they will use, within scriptural guidelines. Church leaders are in place to guide and facilitate. This allows a person or family to join a group that fits them best. This system most closely follows the practices of the early New Testament believers. Today, we sometimes use the term "Ante-Nicene", to describe churches that are going back to practicing Christianity the way it was in the time of the early church.
The Modern Institutional Church of Today
(The Typical Denominational Structure)
Churches today generally meet in building which creates significant overhead. It then becomes important to have enough members donating money to support this building. A larger number of members create financial security for the church. Numerical growth through “marketing” and program development become important. Yet, in some cases, the only significant use of the building is for one or two services a week. Most of the money collected from members goes to support the building and staff expenses. Members are encouraged to give the tithe, that is, a minimum of 10 percent of their earnings.
While formal college training in biblical and ministry studies is beneficial, the pastors they turn out usually end up in a church that really just offers them a job for which they work long hours doing everything but sweeping the floors! The pastor’s family life can suffer for the benefit of church members. Further, the pastor and/or a select group of leaders run the worship service, leaving participants to generally sit passively during the monologue sermon. Often, attending the service is a goal unto itself. The Lord’s Supper is usually observed monthly, quarterly, or annually.
Church of the Ancient Christian Faith
The church meets in smaller, cohesive groups in a home or other meeting place throughout a local area. Elders who lead and teach are local laymen who live and work in the community. Generally, there is more than one elder in a group. Meetings are interactive giving members a chance to speak up and participate. The goal of the meeting was not only worship, but to help develop the spirituality of all the members. In an entire local area only one or two people would work full time and need to be supported financially. Members take on staff work part time and on an unpaid basis.
Communion is shared at every worship service, usually once a week. It is both reflective and joyous. Money contributed goes to assist the needy and provide for Christian workers, often given by members both voluntarily and sacrificially. Service to others, both in the church and in the community is emphasized and encouraged.
The New Testament church that the apostles built according to Christ’s directions was one church with Jesus Christ as the head. It was one family with a relationship founded on the love of Christ. It was intimate and aware of each member’s needs, gifts, strengths and weaknesses. It was a church unfettered by having to support many expensive “temples”, for they were the living temple of Christ. It was a church that was able to ignite the world with the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and His saving grace. It was a church made up of believers who held their faith as a way of life in unity, not purely a social activity and not only as an obligation.
We Are “New Testament Episcopal”
We are an “episcopal” church; meaning our form of church governance is in accordance with that established in the New Testament Scriptures. (With Bishops, Presbyters and Deacons). While maintaining the traditional New Testament episcopate we do so in the same spirit of corporate love and mutual care that is evident within the Church of the apostolic era. Our leadership is but a part of the “Eldership” of the Body that cares for, edifies, encourages and preserves the Church.
We are a “sacramental” church. We hold that the sacraments are visible signs of God’s grace and are powerful aids to the spiritual growth of the individual believer and the Community of Christ. The primary sacraments of the church are Baptism and the Eucharist or Communion (the Lord’s Supper).
The COTACF encourages the “form of worship” instructed to the early church by the apostles. We utilize various liturgical expressions as adapted throughout history, by the broader church. Individual churches have flexibility in how they conduct their services.
We hold that a chief purpose of the church is to perpetuate the historical sacramental tradition as instituted by Jesus Christ and preserved through the apostles and the church. We maintain that the sacraments are channels for the evidence of God’s grace. Therefore we make the sacraments available to all. At our gatherings all reverent, penitent, and faithful Christians are welcomed to receive Communion.
We are a contemporary embodiment of the eternal Body of Christ. We maintain that the God reveals the truth through His holy spirit in means appropriate to the age and that the outward forms of the apostolic tradition of Christ’s church does, indeed, keep pace with human development while maintaining the ageless truths of the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We strive to embody the truth of all ages in both our corporate and individual worship as lead by the holy spirit of God in accordance with the Holy Scriptures.
We function in a very different way compared to most churches, as you can discern by what you will have read so far. In each small group church are elders who guide the church and often will share in teaching the group during meetings. They also make themselves available to help members at other times during the week as needed. One of the elders may be an ordained deacon, but the deacon does not “rule” over the others elders.
From there, churches are organized into parishes, usually in groups of two to five, and generally by location. They are cared for by a presbyter. They could also be referred to as “pastor”, although each member of the church body does have a pastoral ministry. Finally, there is the bishop, whose primary ministry is to assist, train and guide all of the elders of the local body.
What make us so effective though, are our people. Those who are willing to share their time, talent and love with others unselfishly, knowing that if a member of the church community or the community around us needs support, they will get it. From something as simple as helping a single mom get her car started to providing essential transportation for those who cannot afford it. Watching children during an emergency or simply to give mom and dad a break they otherwise could not afford or helping a member of the church family with making an important social or business connection or with a project by sharing their computer access. It could even be sharing food, or donating a couch or some clothes to a family in trouble. Whatever it is, our people stand ready to care!
It is our vision to provide care and service to those in our churches and the community at large, to show true and genuine Christian love to them and to provide service that can help them heal from the wounds that life inevitably inflicts on them and which also can enrich them so that they will know that God is real and he loves each and every one of them.
We also understand how important is to provide proper training and guidance for our leadership, so that what has been started will grow and continue with excellence.
Since our churches do not have the same overhead as regular institutional churches we can put our offerings toward uses other than building and maintenance costs. We use our resources to provide benevolence, evangelism and support for Christian workers who need it.
We are however, willing to have buildings that could be used for various gatherings of the local church as well as to provide services and evangelism for the community at large, provided that it is utilized fully.
The Problem Some Evangelicals May Have With All This…
Sometimes people from some protestant denominations have trouble with some of the concepts in this website as well as in the church. Having been raised in a protestant denomination myself, I do understand your concerns. A bit of an explanation is required. One thing that I have not often heard of is protestant (especially evangelical) churches offering complete courses in early church history. You may have been exposed to the journeys of Paul, etc., but never exposed to the information about what happened to the church during the first few centuries, because if they did, you would learn that the real trouble started after 325 A.D., when the church went from privately meeting in homes to having large government sponsored public places of worship! What followed was, primarily, the Roman Catholic Church. So when the protestant reformation developed, even though the Roman church had integrated right practices from their earlier church brethren, many were rejected during the reformation so that the reformed church appeared more distinct. I, as well as my fellow workers have put in countless hours to verify all that you read here is true. We have no axe to grind with any denomination, we hold love in our hearts for all believers and we simply have chosen to go back and use and sometimes adapt some of the practices of the earliest church for today’s world, those started during the apostolic era and make them live in our modern times. I would be pleased to answer your questions and concerns regarding any and all of the issues in this website.
++Archbishop Timothy Buss, Th.D.
Our leadership is made up of elder's who are responsible for governing and providing oversight for the church's affairs. We also have an executive team who give oversight and direction to each department and ministry.
The government of this church, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, is vested in the Elder's, whose authority is derived from our body of believers. Only members of our church who are of high character and integrity, who maintain an excellent reputation, and who demonstrate leadership in our ministry may be elected as Elders.
Each person in his or her particular role is committed to the Vision, Mission, and Values of our organization.
In short, when you find your spiritual home with us, you're finding a community for you to trust, learn from, and participate in!
++Archbishop Timothy Buss, ThD. - Summersville, WV
Diocese of Memphis
Bishop Ordinary / Episcopal Liaison / Canon
+Bishop Joseph Holmin - Memphis, TN
Diocese of Knoxville
+Bishop Wm. Eric Thomas - Knoxville, TN
Is COTACF “Protestant”?
No. COTACF does not mark its doctrinal standards from the Protestant Reformation. We strive to adhere to “that faith once for all delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3) COTACF is an “episcopally structured pre-denominational” independent communion of Christians who share a dedication to BEING the apostolic church of Christ in the world today. We are open to all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior regardless of their “denominational” past.
Is COTACF “Catholic”?
If by “Catholic” you mean are we a part of the “Roman Catholic Church” then, No. However, we strive to be a manifestation of the undivided catholic (meaning “universal and everything needed to be complete”) church of the apostolic era, as described in Holy Scripture and testified to by the early church fathers, within the world today.
What does it mean to be a Genuine Christian?
In short, it means you have a deep desire to “Live your faith in Christ as He commanded all who believe in him to do,” rejecting the precepts of man in favor of adhering to God’s will for us as given in Scripture.
What is Our Position on Female Clergy?
We hold to the scriptural and apostolic practice of ordaining women to the office of Deaconess. We believe that women are a very important part of the church and can and should have a wide range of opportunities to serve. This includes prayers, Bible readings, music, testimonies and encouragement during services. As well, we are always open to women involved with outreach and Bible studies to other women.
What is Our Position on Forced Celibacy?
The practice of forced celibacy for clergy was not the practice of the New Testament or Apostolic Church; in fact the Scriptures clearly teach us the opposite was true. We do not require celibacy of our clergy, however, we do require a sexually pure life; meaning that if our clergy is married they always remain faithful to their spouses and if they are single they refrain from the sin of fornication outside marriage.
What is Our Position on Divorce and Remarriage?
Divorce is an unfortunate epidemic of our secular society. We hold to the belief that marriage is a sacred institution ordained by God. Neither marriage nor divorce should be entered into lightly. It is the responsibility of the Church to strive to ensure that the couple in question has a firm understanding of the commitment they are undertaking in choosing to marry. Likewise, it is the church’s responsibility to strive to prevent a divorce from occurring. However, this being said, we realize that divorce does happen and believe that divorce should not prevent a penitent Christian from participating in the life of the Church.
What is Our Position on Abortion?
COTACF holds that the practice of abortion for birth control is the taking of an innocent human life and is therefore condemned in Scripture as a sin. However, all too often the full effects of such a ‘choice” are not fully realized by the unfortunate soul who was deceived into undertaking such a destructive procedure, therefore, the Church should be ever ready to project the love of Christ upon those whom He has lead to regretting having had an abortion. Likewise, the Church should be ever ready to assist, to the best it is able, the penitent women and girls who find themselves pregnant and choose to follow the will of God and keep the child that has bestowed on them, in the rearing of that child.
What is Our Position on Homosexuality?
We want every homosexual in the world to know that God loves and cares about them very much and so do we. While the Bible is clear that homosexuality is wrong, we invite anyone to attend our services and to receive from our fellowship, regardless of their sexual orientation. We believe that there is nothing that we can do to “make” people change, that only God can do that. We will do all we can to support everyone who is working to live a truly Godly life, regardless of the issues of their situation. We will not, however, consider them for any position of leadership, and further, we encourage them to forsake all wrong practices for a pure life in Christ.
What is Our Position on Bible Translations?
We do not believe that any translation of the Bible into English is perfect. We have found that due to a number of factors, in every version, some things are “lost in the translation.” It is recommended that more than one translation of the Bible be acquired and used for comparison. Our Bishop regularly studies from a parallel Bible consisting of The New American Standard Bible (Rev.1995), the King James Version, the Amplified Bible and The New International Version, and also the English Standard Version.
Commissioning & Ordination
Elders are elected by the local community and confirmed and commissioned by their bishop.
With time, experience, adherance to study and chacacter development, elders may be nominated to be a deacon, and later a priest or eventually, even a bishop.
The Church’s Basic Standard for Consideration for Commissioning & Ordination
1. Clergy candidates must be at least 21 years of age prior to seeking ordination.
2. Our clergy can be married or single; however either state requires living a sexually pure life.
3. Clergy who are single upon entering into Holy Orders are allowed, thereafter, to enter into marriage.
4. The church does not obligate a clergy candidate to attend a seminary program prior to licensure; however all of our clergy are required to fulfill the requirements of the ongoing Clergy Development Program in a timely manner.
5. All clergy candidates for Holy Orders are required to submit to, and pass a background check, before their candidacy can be legitimized.
6. The church ordains women as deaconesses.
7. The church does not consider the issue of divorce and remarriage as an automatic disqualification for serving in the ministry; each situation is discerned on a case by case basis.
8.The church does not ordain homosexual men or women.
The Church’s Concept of “Clergy”
It is important to realize that, within the church, the role of the clergy is somewhat distinctive from that of your more “traditional” church organizations. First of all, the church adheres to the “Broader Episcopate” concept of Church leadership inscribed in Scripture in which the local church body is lead, first by Christ then by a plurality of “Elders” (those mature in the faith as made evident by their living testimony and soundness of the faith). Within the eldership of the local church body you will have both elders and clergy. What’s the difference? Well, while the entire eldership is responsible for the ongoing development and functioning of the local body the clergy, that is, the “episcopate” is called by God to minister the Gospel as well as preserve the orthodoxy of the faith within the local body. So while all members of the episcopate are elders, not all elders are members of the episcopate. Members of the episcopate do carry a higher level of spiritual authority and are involved in a distinct leadership role, but we do not lord our authority over the church.
At this point it should be stated that, within the church, all decisions (not involving the essentials of the faith) are to be made by “the consensus of the Eldership” of which the decision in question will affect. Consensus Rule is NOT Majority Rule or Episcopal Rule; It is, in submission to the Holy Scriptures, the coming together in full understanding of all those involved.
Also it is important to note that, at a minimum, it is through the episcopate that the foundations of inter-church communion are laid due to the church’s adherence to the validity of Apostolic Succession. Here some practical definitions may be in order:
Elder: A member of the local body who has demonstrated a maturity in the faith and selected by the local body to assist in the guidance of the same.
Deacon/ess: A member of the local body called by God and ordained by the church to the service ministry of the local body. Those women ordained to be a deaconess ministry primarily work with other women but may assist in other areas as well.
Presbyter (Pastor/Priest): A member of the local body called by God and ordained by the Church to the service and pastoral ministry of the local body. Within the church, the priest is the primary voice of the church on ecclesiastical matters for the parish and directly administers the parish wide “Gathering of the Saints” as well as their respective Home Fellowships. The parish priest works in conjunction with the deacons and the eldership in the administration of the church parish community.
Bishop: A Presbyter called by God and selected from among his peers and ordained by the church to the pastoral ministry and administration of a geographical area in which there is one or more Parishes. A bishop is the primary voice of the church on ecclesiastical matters for the local church diocese (usually comprising of several counties, but may be limited to a single larger city or even a state or region) and the pastor to the parish priests within the diocese. The bishop works in conjunction with the diocesan priests and eldership in the administration of a church diocese.
Archbishop: The Archbishop of the church is selected from among his peers and approved by the eldership of the church for the pastoral ministry of his fellow bishops and the church as a whole. The archbishop, in consensus with the College of Bishops, is the primary voice of the church on ecclesiastical matters. The archbishop is the patriarch, the primary pastor, counselor, motivator, facilitator and Preserver of the Faith for the church. The archbishop works in conjunction with the College of Bishops in the administration of the church.
At first glance this ecclesiastical structure must seem a lot like the hierarchical structure of the Roman Catholic or other Churches and there is a good reason for that. The terms applied to the positions are indeed Scriptural therefore there will, obviously, be apparent similarities. However it is imperative to gaining a proper understanding of the church’s concept of “clergy” that one fully understands that the “clergy” of the church stands as part of the eldership of the Communion and not apart from it. The only differential point in distinguishing the “clergy” from the eldership within the church is the fact that the clergy are those called by God and ordained by the consensus of the Church (at their respective levels) for the specific ministry to the body while the “non clergy” eldership is charged with both the practical administration of the body and, along with every member of the body, edification of the church and evangelizing of the lost.
One final note. Within the church we strive for genuine intimacy in the Spirit between members of the body. This includes the clergy. By striving to keep and maintain this relational association in the faith we diminish the concept of “rulership” so often evident in the more “traditional” church bodies. With the church the clergy do not rule, they facilitate, in response to their divine calling, the edification of and pastoral ministry to the body of Christ in His service. Leaders take on a paternal or in the case of women, maternal role, caring for them as they would their own family. Again, there is an element of spiritual authority, but the clergy, within the church, are first and foremost servants. Furthermore the process by which church members become clergy is one in which familiarity among the body is essential. At no time will a church community ever have a member of the clergy with whom they are unfamiliar, permanently imposed upon them. All church clergy come from within the local body.*
*Note: The exception to this would be when a new church minister has initiated a “missionary community” effort.
If you're looking for a new christian home, you'll find it here with us.
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Thank you for your time and considerations.
God Bless You!
Church of the Ancient Christian Faith