The Vocation of the Unitas Fratrum

The Unitas Fratrum lives by the gifts which the Lord has given His Church on earth: His Word and the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. Its vocation is to proclaim His Word to its congregations and to the world and to administer the Sacraments aright. The Unitas Fratrum considers it to be its mission to emphasise especially the following truths from the fullness of the Word of God:

  • the word of the cross as the testimony of the Lord who was crucified for us and who rose again (1 Cor. 1: 18, 30);
  • the word of reconciliation as God making peace with His whole creation (1 John 2:2);
  • the word of personal union with the Saviour as the vitalizing and moulding power of the believer's life (John 15:5);
  • the word of love between one another as the fellowship of members, brought about by Jesus Christ, the Head of His Church (Eph. 4:15,16)

Baptism into the death of Jesus is administered in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in the presence of the congregation. Customarily in the Unitas Fratrum children are baptized and. later received by confirmation into the communicant membership. In the celebration of the Lord's Supper, the congregations of the. Unitas Fratrum have the assurance of being united with their Lord, enjoy the fruits of His sufferings and death for the forgiveness of sins, unite with each other anew as members of His body, and rejoice in the hope of His return in glory. From its beginning the Unitas Fratrum has emphasized fellowship among its members. It recognizes its calling to preserve this gift both by united adoration, self humiliation and intercession, and by ordering its life and service:

  • as a fellowship within the congregation and with the Unitas Fratrum;
  • as a fellowship with the Universal Church of Christ on earth;
  • as a fellowship with the Church triumphant before the Throne.

As a fellowship of the redeemed it extols the Lamb with joyful song. As a fellowship looking to the future it proclaims to the world the victory of Him who is to come. In the liturgical form of its services the Unitas Fratrum gives expression to its union with the whole Church of Christ on earth, and as a living fellowship it will create ever new forms within the framework of its own tradition. In this fellowship the Unitas Fratrum has received a new and transformed congregation life,

  • in which Jesus Christ is Lord of every phase of life;
  • in which we live no longer unto ourselves but unto Him who died for us and rose again;
  • in which we rejoice in the hope of His glorious return;
  • in which the congregation and its members are willing to share the sufferings of Christ.

We recognize our responsibility to the civil authorities in so far as human law does not contradict the "government of the Saviour". The life in the congregations of the Unitas Fratrum is not the fruit of its own piety but of the love of Christ which constrains those who are His to love one another. The new life of the congregation is nourished by the cure and care of souls and the exercise of congregation discipline. Though the cure and care of souls is the special task of ministers and their fellow-labourers, every member who has experienced the saving love of the Redeemer is called to undertake this service. In Church discipline the sins and errors of the individual are considered and borne as the burden of the whole congregation. The congregation stands beside the erring one under the judgment of the Cross, ever mindful of its own need of forgiveness and brings the fault before the only One Who can redeem us from our guilt. Church discipline is exercised in the confident faith that it is not the Lord's will that a single member should be lost, nor that the clear wit ness of the congregation should be hindered. This discipline is especially necessary when by word or deed the gospel is falsified and the Lord denied. Therefore the main object of Church discipline is the prevention of offences and not the punishment of the individual. In the exercise of corrective discipline the following aspects are recognized:

  • Admonition by the Minister, either alone or in fellowship with other members (Church Council,  Elders etc.) in private, in a spirit of love.
  • Further admonition with temporary suspension from the fellowship of the congregation as it is visibly expressed in certain privileges.
  • Exclusion from the membership of the congregation.
  • Persons who are excluded shall be welcomed back into the membership of the congregation after a profession of repentance on their part.

The Unitas Fratrum recognizes the priesthood of all believers but also has specially appointed ministers who receive commission and authority for their service from the hands of Jesus Christ, Whom the Church acknowledges as its Chief Elder. All members may gladly and confidently carry on their work in and for the congregation and by their devotion and faithfulness all can render service to the whole Church. At the same time the Unitas Fratrum gratefully acknowledges the gift of the offices of the ministry which it has received from the Lord. It ' recognizes and confesses that in reality it is its Lord and Head Jesus Christ Who calls and ordains, whether in the case of the reception as an acolyte or the ordination to the office of Deacon, or the consecration as a Presbyter or Bishop. The same is true for the brothers and sisters who are called or elected to service in any official capacity. They can render their service. well only through the grace of their Chief Elder.



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