"We do Give up ourselves to one another"

Exploring digitized Congregational disciplinary records at the Congregational Library & Archives

Puritans, the New World’s first Congregationalists, have an unfortunate reputation of being censorious busybodies. The term “church discipline” may reinforce that notion, but the ultimate goal of disciplinary actions was not so much to punish as to draw wayward church members back into the fold—for the spiritual health of the individual and for the cohesion of the church community. The questions asked by Congregationalists of the past during the disciplinary process mirror many we ask ourselves today: what is our responsibility to one another? How do we behave toward those who have done our community harm? How can they make amends? How can we welcome them back into our midst?

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