Our History

Disciples of Christ Chalice

The term Pentecost comes from the Greek word meaning “fiftieth” and refers to the Jewish holiday of Shavu’ot, celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover. Christianity celebrates the day of Pentecost to commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles as described in Acts 2:1–31. The idea of new beginnings is frequently associated with Pentecost, which is often called “the birthday of the church.”

On Pentecost Sunday in 2004 a meeting was held following worship at Hillyer Memorial Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in downtown Raleigh, NC for the purpose of discussing the possibility of establishing an outreach ministry in Wake Forest. During that meeting, a member of the group stated firmly, “I feel this is something we must do!” At the conclusion of the discussion, Hillyer’s official board voted without dissent to sponsor a new church start in Wake Forest.

During the ensuing months a steering committee was formed and established policies and procedures to begin the necessary start-up tasks. A core group began meeting for Advent Bible study in a spare office of a dental practice on Rogers Road and later held Bible studies at Wake Forest United Methodist Church. In December 2004 a formal application for a new church start was filed with the regional minister. Six months later a young and newly ordained Disciples of Christ minister arrived to assume the duties of pastor and church planter. Wake Forest Christian Church held its first official worship service on November 13, 2005 at 203 Capcom Avenue where the church continued to meet until moving to its present location in 2013.

Like many new churches, the young congregation had its successes and its struggles over the ensuing years. Members and leaders came and went, but the church’s needs were always met as new situations presented themselves. In 2017 the church participated with Hope Partnership in an assessment known as New Beginnings to identify and develop opportunities to meet the needs of its members and reach out to improve the lives of those in the wider community. That study led us to make the decision to put down deep roots in the community with the purchase of our present location at 701 South Main Street.

From its inception the congregation has celebrated its diversity and welcomed persons of every race, ability, sexual orientation, religious background, and economic condition and invited all to share in the decisions that impact the congregation. Led by the Spirit, shaped by the love of Christ and energized by creativity and spiritual depth, this congregation continues to journey into a hopeful future as a progressive community of faith.

A Brief History of our Denomination

Depending on whom you ask, our denomination was either born at an 1801 camp revival at the Cane Ridge Church in Kentucky pastored by Barton Stone, or possibly on January 1, 1832, when the leaders of two rapidly growing American religious movements shook hands and brought the Christians of Barton Stone and the Disciples of Christ of Alexander Campbell together in mission and ministry. Either way this early 1800 movement was born out of a conviction that divisions between Christians (in the form of Denominations and religious hierarchy) are barriers to experiencing the truth that,

The Church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one; consisting of all those in every place that profess their faith in Christ . . . [and we declare that] division among the Christians is a horrid evil, fraught with many evils.

Thomas Campbell, 1809

The Stone-Campbell Movement was based on a common sense and an academic understanding of the Scriptures. Fundamental to that view was the commitment of people who saw the Church as a barrier-free community of believers. These Disciples swept the early frontier and became a driving force in American Christianity. They quickly became activists promoting missions and cooperative work among all denominations. They rose as advocates for women’s suffrage, the rapid abolishment of slavery, care for orphans and others in need, temperance, anti-war movements, and many other causes that flowed out of their understanding of the Love and Grace of God for all people. The rapid growth of congregations and followers became a religious phenomenon in late 19th and early 20th century American culture that has not been duplicated.

The early founders came almost entirely from the Presbyterian tradition They were soon joined by powerful leaders in the Baptist and Methodist traditions. The entire history of the Disciple movement has seen a profound commitment to keeping doors and hearts open to all expressions of faith and mission and represents a remarkable diversity of beliefs and views. This can be seen in our Identity Statement:

We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. As part of the one body of Christ we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us.

The Identity Statement of the
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
in the United States and Canada

By tradition and intent, some of the visible aspects of our life together are:

  • We are congregationally based and governed;
  • We are committed to a non-hierarchical community where laity and clergy are partners in ministry and our denominational agencies are not ruling bodies but are committed to our work together through covenant;
  • We do not ascribe to any Creed or official Faith Statement and expect that every Disciple will develop their own beliefs for themselves within the bounds of the faith community;
  • We read the Bible for ourselves and do not rely on others to dictate its meanings; we practice contemporary methods of study that include understandings of language, context, and culture;
  • We practice unity and inclusion in all of our activities, especially in our observance of Communion at the Lord’s Table, which we celebrate every Sunday;
  • We practice believer’s baptism but are open to the differing practices of other traditions.

You can find a more detailed presentation of our history on the Disciples.org website.