“All who believed were together and had all things in common.” (Acts 2:44).
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
In a “congregation of equals,” all Christians enjoy the right to speak and to develop corporately the formation of congregational life.
Out of the practice of faith-baptism arose within the Anabaptist movement a new image of church: Church is the fellowship of those who have voluntarily banded together, based on their faith-baptism. Recalling the original form of the church in the Acts of the Apostles, women and men fostered binding relationships and sustained one another. Individual groups such as the Hutterites even ventured into a common life together, which included community of goods.
As “grassroots-churches,” they understood themselves to be autonomous local congregations, each responsible to regulate its own matters. Throughout the course of their history, this earlier practice, however, did not prevent Anabaptist congregations from creating hierarchies within their own fellowships which challenged equality for all. Moreover, an exclusive understanding of church could sometimes develop, bringing with it a restrictive separating from other church fellowships. Also, a rigid ban placed upon dissident believers by their own congregation resulted in painful separations and exclusions.
In the Theme-Year “Daring to Live Together,” the concern is whether, and how far, the church-models of the Anabaptists can give answers to the challenges of a pluralistic society. How can solidarity and personal responsibility in the new forms of with- and for-one-another be practiced? Which impulses of binding fellowship manifest themselves today as sustainable? How do we deal, today, with the increasing variety of religious expressions, denominational confessions and various forms of spirituality – and what does this mean for the with-one-another in ecumenical Christianity?