The Disciples have a history of congregational government, although in 1968 they adopted a structure that sees the church in covenantal relationships in congregational, regional and general ministries. Each expression is considered equal rather than pyramidal and each has its protected rights and identified responsibilities. Each is in covenantal relation to the others and calls or dismisses its own staff and handles its own finances and property. The general ministry is called general rather than national because both the United States and Canada are included in the structure. There are 33 regions, many of them encompassing all of a single state.
The General Assembly
The representative body of the church meets biennially and may involve 6,000-10,000 persons, about half of whom are official voters from congregations and regions. All persons who register have the right to speak. The voters include ministers, lay persons, regional representatives and the church’s General Board. The General Board is a 73-voting-member-body with 50 ex officio non-voting members that meets annually. A 20-member Administrative Committee meets twice annually.
Racial/Ethnic and Geographic Data
Disciples of Christ membership includes approximately 40,000 African Americans and 440 predominantly African American congregations, about 7,500 Hispanics and 155 congregations, some 5,000 American Asians and 85 congregations, and smaller numbers of Native Americans. There are Disciples congregations in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and five Canadian provinces. The Greater Kansas City region has the highest concentration of Disciples. However, the Southwest region, which includes Texas and part of New Mexico, has the highest number of members and congregations. The next most populous regions are Indiana, Mid-America (which includes Missouri and part of Illinois), Ohio and Kentucky.