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Faith and Practice
The Missionary Church is a Trinitarian body that believes the Bible is the inspired Word of God and authoritative in all matters of faith; that "salvation is the result of genuine repentance of sin and faith in the atoning work of Christ"; and that the "church is composed of all believers in the Lord Jesus who have been vitally united by faith to Christ". They hold two Christian ordinances: baptism (by immersion) and the Lords Supper, which are outward signs, not a means of salvation.
The Missionary Church has diverse roots, especially in Anabaptism (directly through the Mennonites), German Pietism, the holiness movement, and American evangelicalism, (and to a smaller degree fundamentalism and Pentecostalism). The preamble to their Constitution references this by stating:
The Missionary Church Association was founded in Berne, Indiana in 1898. In that year, Joseph E. Ramseyer was excluded from the Egly Amish because he was rebaptized at a revival meeting. The Egly Amish rejected both the nature of the baptism (immersion) and its non-Amish/Mennonite connections (he had already been baptized by the Egly Amish). The Missionary Church Association and the United Missionary Church (formerly the Mennonite Brethren in Christ) carried on fraternal relations for many years, and then merged in 1969 to form the Missionary Church.
The Missionary Church has a membership of over 160,000 people in more than 1,500 congregations in 28 countries. In United States there are over 370 congregations with almost 50,000 members. The organization of the church is divided into 11 districts (and 4 mission districts). Offices are located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Its ministries include World Partners USA, the Missionary Church Investment Foundation, Missionary Church Historical Society (founded in 1979), Bethel College, and the Church Multiplication Training Center. Bethel College, located in Mishawaka, Indiana, currently has over 1700 students.
In recent years, the Missionary Church has sought a closer return to its Mennonite roots. They are also currently engaged in merger negotiations with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, another body with Mennonite and Pietist heritage.
The Missionary Church is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals.
The Missionary Church (and the movements that formed it) has suffered three divisions - the withdrawal of several leaders from the Missionary Church Association in 1923 over disagreements concerning the Holy Spirit; in 1947 the Pennsylvania Conference of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ withdrew over issues of doctrine and polity, and in 1959 became the Bible Fellowship Church; and the Missionary Church of Canada withdrew from the Missionary Church in 1987 (and merged with the Evangelical Church of Canada in 1993 to form the Evangelical Missionary Church).