Alwyn York, CCCC Historian
Our Conference has produced some helpful resources to explain what it means to be a biblical Congregationalist. Those who are new to the Conference may be unfamiliar with them. Those who are long time members might benefit from re-examining them. As Christians it is always good to keep reminding ourselves of what we believe, why we believe it and the heritage that our faith is built upon. Two books in particular published by the Conference serve as trustworthy guides to the basics of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference.
There Are Modern Day Pilgrims by veteran CCCC pastor Rod Wetzig was written to instruct the youth of our churches about Congregational history and church government and to trace the background of our fellowship. It is well suited for the instruction of youth, written in clear simple language with eye catching illustrations. It has the form of a workbook, with questions to answer as the student goes along and a Q and A section to fill out at the end of each chapter. I used it in my confirmation classes and found it engaging for the students and easy to teach.
Although this book is aimed at youth, I do not believe that its usefulness to confined to them. Anyone who works through this book will learn a lot about Congregational history and about what Congregational church government is and how it works. The circumstances that led to the formation of the CCCC are explained, as well as how we view other churches. The bedrock beliefs of our faith about God and Jesus Christ and the nature of salvation are explained. The bibliography at the end offers a reading list that would be helpful for any adult Congregationalist. (NOTE: This book should not be confused with a book with a similar title which was also published by the CCCC. There Are Modern Day Pilgrims is a resource aimed at youth. Modern Day Pilgrims: The First Fifty Years of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference is the Conference history published in 2000. It is now out of print, however plans are being made for an update.)
Roots, Stem and Flowers by Peter W. Murdy is a church membership guide written for the churches in our conference. Peter is also a veteran CCCC pastor. He originally wrote the book for use in his own church out of a concern to make church membership more meaningful. Like many old Congregational churches the numbers on the membership roll far exceeded the number who regularly attended, and he wanted to restore a strong membership standard. He quotes from the Cambridge Platform, New England’s original statement of Congregational church principles, to show that repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ are the essential prerequisites for admission to church membership.
This guidebook is designed to be the textbook for a four session membership class. It covers a lot of ground in a short space. It is not just an introduction to Congregationalism but a presentation of basic Christianity itself. It would be helpful for a new believer or someone who had been a nominal Christian. The first lesson (the “Roots”) explains what the Christian faith is. The second lesson (the “Stem”) covers both what Scripture teaches about the church and the history of Congregationalism. Lesson three (the “Flowers”) is about Christian living, discussing spiritual disciplines and gifts of the Spirit. The fourth lesson is about what it means to join the church and the questions potential members need to ask themselves.
Both of these books are available from NextStep Resources, (www.nsresources.com), a retailer who distributes literature for the Conference.