Churches of Christ (Non-Instrumental)
Churches of Christ (Non-Instrumental, Conservative)
4 Mountain Park Ave., Hamilton, ON, Canada L9A 1A2
Christadelphian Action Society, 904 Woodview Ct., Mahomet, IL 61853.
The Christadelphians are a body of people who believe the Bible to be the divinely inspired word of God, written by “Holy men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). They believe the Old Testament presents God’s plan to establish His Kingdom on earth in accordance with the promises He made to Abraham and David, and that the New Testament declares how that plan works out in Jesus Christ, who they said died a sacrificial death to redeem sinners. They believe in the personal return of Jesus Christ as King, to establish “all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old” (Acts 3:21). They feel that at Christ’s return, many of the dead will be raised by the power of God to be judged, and those God deems worthy will be welcomed into eternal life in the Kingdom on earth.
Christadelphians believe in the mortality of man; in spiritual rebirth requiring belief and immersion in the name of Jesus; and in a godly walk in this life. There are no ordained clergy. The group is loosely organized worldwide in a confederation of autonomous congregations in approximately 100 countries. Members are conscientiously opposed to war. They endeavor to be enthusiastic in work, loyal in marriage, generous in giving, dedicated to preaching, and cheerful in living.
The denomination was organized in 1844 by Dr. John Thomas, who came to the United States from England and who devoted his life to a search for the truth of God from the Bible. Thomas claimed no special revelation or position. He did not claim himself a prophet. The name Christadelphian, adopted in 1864, means Brethren in Christ. Initially limited mostly to English-speaking countries, the denomination now exists worldwide.
In 1898 the prominent Birmingham, England, Ecclesia of the Christadelphians adopted an amendment to their statement of faith to define more precisely who will be raised for a resurrectional judgement at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The original unamended statement had read: “That at the appearing of Christ, prior to the establishment of the Kingdom, the responsible (faithful and unfaithful) dead and living of both classes, will, be summoned before his judgment seat.…” The amendment suggested “That at the appearing of Christ prior to the establishment of the Kingdom, the responsible (namely those who know the revealed will of God and have been called upon to submit to it) dead and living—obedient and unobedient—will be summoned before the judgment seat.…”
The introduction of this amendment split the movement. Those who retain the unamended statement refuse to define with certainty a resurrectional judgment of any except those (in this dispensation) who have entered into a covenant relationship with God by baptism. Those who adopted the amendment believe that the basis of resurrection is response to enlightenment, understanding, and knowledge of God’s Word.
In North America there are two Christadelphian groups, Central and Unamended. In 2001 virtually all the Unamended Christadelphians resided in North America. They are served by a monthly periodical, The Christadelphian Advocate, begun in 1885 by Thomas Williams, who opposed the amendment and indefatigably tried to heal the division by proposing a more satisfactory definition of the basis for resurrectional judgment.
Talks aimed at reunion of the two groups of Christadelphians were pursued in the 1970s and 1980s. Agreement was reached on various points that had come to distinguish them concerning fellowship, inspiration, baptism, and the nature of man. However, in the end, no agreement was reached on either the primary issue of resurrectional responsibility or new differences that had developed on matters related to Christ’s atonement.
Christadelphians are organized congregationally, and the authority in all matters rests in the collective hands of the members of each local ecclesia (congregation). There is no central headquarters, but the periodicals serving the fellowship as a whole form a network to keep the ecclesias in communication with each other. Each congregation elects serving brethren to perform various tasks, as there is no paid clergy.
Primary activities in North America include Sunday worship and Sunday schools, mid-week Bible classes, Bible schools, and interecclesial gatherings. The Williamsburg Christadelphian Foundation sponsors and assists charitable and preaching activities in many parts of the world by itself and in conjunction with the outreach work of the Christadelphian Bible missions.
The Christadelphian Advocate • The Christadelphian Truth Gleaner (quarterly) • The Sanctuary Keeper (quarterly) • Christadelphian Tidings
Christadelphia Worldwide. www.christadelphia.org.
Williamsburg Christadelphian Foundation. www.wcfoundation.org.
The Christadelphian Tidings of the Kingdom of God. www.tidings.org.
The Christadelphian Statement of Faith. Quincy, MA: Christadelphian Advocate Publications, n.d.
Roberts, Robert. A Guide to the Formation and Conduct of Christadelphian Ecclesias. Birmingham, U.K.: Christadelphian, 1922.
Roberts, Robert, and J. J. Andrew. Resurrectional Responsibility. Birmingham, U.K.: Authors, 1894.
c/o Detroit Christadelphian Book Supply, 14676 Berwick St., Livonia, MI 48154
The Christadelphians trace their history to John Thomas (1805–1871), a British doctor who as a result of his suffering a shipwreck on his way to the United States from Britain became interested in religion. His exploration over several decades led him in the 1860s to what he believed to be the biblical truth that the apostles believed in the first century. The name “Christadelphian,” meaning “Christ’s Brethren” or “Brethren in Christ” in biblical Greek, originated during the American Civil War. Some of Thomas’s followers used the name when asked by the United States government for the name of an organized religion, a requirement of all conscientious objectors.
During 1898, the prominent Birmingham, England, ecclesia of the Christadelphians accepted an amended text of the statement of faith then used by Christadelphians which affirmed that some who had not been justified by the blood of Christ would be resurrected for judgment by Christ prior to His establishment of His kingdom. The revised text had been drawn up by Robert Roberts, the editor of The Christadelphian, the group’s leading periodical. The majority of Christadelphians accepted Roberts’s position. This divided a then existing fellowship into two fellowships, the “Amended” or “Central,” and the “Unamended” or “Advocate.”
The Christadelphians have attained form uniqueness (and resulting criticism) among Christian religions in that they believe in the absolute mortality of the soul. Christadelphians believe that those who are not “called” to Christ have no hope of eternal reward nor basis for post-death judgment or punishment. Those outside of Christ, they believe, perish like all other forms of life on this planet. Christadelphians call their beliefs the “Hope of Israel,” i.e., the hope of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as revealed in the Covenants to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, etc. These promises or covenants reveal the biblical hope of resurrection to judgment at the Last Day, and possible eternal life on earth with Abraham’s descendants in the restored kingdom of God on this earth, centered in the land of Israel with its capital in Jerusalem. The doctrine of the absolute mortality of the soul and the principles of “calling” are then the basis for additional unique beliefs held by the Christadelphians.
Christadelphians have fairly autonomous congregations (Ecclesias) without a paid clergy. Groups of Ecclessias form Fellowships within the community which share specific religious practices and small doctrinal differences. The largest of these Fellowships is the Amended Christadelphians. The main magazine of the Amended Christadelphians is The Christadelphian Magazine published in Great Britain. North America has an additional magazine called the Christadelphian Tidings and Australia has a magazine called The Logos Magazine.
Christadelphians are found mainly in the English-speaking world of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. Christadelphians have active missionaries in many African, South American, Asian and European countries.
In 2005 there were approximately 4,500 members in the United States. They report affiliated work in 50 countries.
Christadelphian Tidings. Send orders to Box 250305, Franklin, MI 48025.
Christadelphian Hymn Book. Birmingham, England: Christadelphian, 1964.
A Declaration of the Truth Revealed in the Bible. Birmingham, England: Christadelphian, 1967.
One Hundred Years of The Christadelphian. Birmingham, England: Christadelphian, 1964.
Tennant, Harry. The Christadelphians: What They Believe and Preach. Birmingham, England: The Christadelphian, 1986.
Christadelphia World Life. www.christadelphia.org.
130 E Washington St., Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1986
Continuing the thrust of the International Convention of Christian Churches (described in the introductory material for this chapter) is the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). At the 1968 annual assembly of the International Assembly, a restructuring of the Convention was accomplished. The convention was voted out of existence and was replaced with a relatively strong international structure. While retaining a congregational polity, the Disciples were no longer a loosely formed confederation of individuals and congregations with a delegated general assembly. The change is a recognition by the Disciples that they have become another denomination.
The Disciples’general assembly meets every two years and is composed of representatives from each congregational region and all ministers. It elects a general board consisting of 250 members, which in turn elects an administrative committee to implement programs.
The church is a member of the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
In 2000 the church reported 823,018 members, 3,781 congregations, and 7,053 ministers.
Colleges and Universities
Barton College, Wilson, North Carolina.
Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas.
Chapman University, Orange, California.
Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri.
Culver-Stockton College, Canton, Missouri.
Drury University, Springfield, Missouri.
Eureka College, Eureka, Illinois.
Hiram College, Hiram, Ohio.
Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins, Texas.
Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, Virginia.
Midway College, Midway, Kentucky.
Texas Christian University, Forth Worth, Texas.
Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky.
William Woods University, Fulton, Missouri.
Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas.
Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Disciples Divinity House of the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee.
Disciples Seminary Foundation, San Diego, California.
Lexington Theological Seminary, Lexington, Kentucky.
Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Atlanta United Divinity Center, Decatur, Georgia.
Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.
Northwest Christian College, Eugene, Oregon.
Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, Mississippi.
The 2005 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) meeting in Portland, Oregon, elected Sharon Watkins as the first woman to hold the position of General Minister and President.
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). www.disciples.org/.
Cummins, D. Duane. Handbook for Today’s Disciples. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 1991.
Harrell, David Edwin, Jr. The Social Sources of Division in the Disciples of Christ, 1865–1900. Atlanta, GA: Publishing Systems, 1973.
McAllister, Lester G., and William E. Tucker. Journey in Faith. St. Louis, MO: Bethany Press, 1975.
Sprague, William L., and Jane Heaton, eds. Our Christian Church Heritage: Journeying in Faith. St. Louis, MO: Christian Board of Publication, .
PO Box 25087, London, Ontario, Canada N6C 6A8
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada operates both as an autonomous denomination in Canada and as one regional branch of the larger Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), whose international headquarters is in Indianapolis, Indiana. Disciples of Christ congregations first appeared in Canada in the Maritime Provinces, mainly due to the efforts of Scottish Baptist immigrants. The initial Canadian congregation of what would become the Disciples of Christ was formed near Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in 1811, by Alexander Crawford. These Scottish immigrants proved receptive to the Restoration Movement in the United States, an early nineteenth-century movement led by Americans Barton Stone (1772–1844) and Alexander Campbell (1788–1866). Through the 1830s, many of these Scottish Baptist churches became a part of the larger Restoration Movement. Once started, the growth of the church was relatively slow and the distances among congregations large.
In 1922 the all-Canada movement began as a way to coordinate and unite the various churches and their ministries. At the same time, options were discussed to unite with the United Church of Canada (formed in 1925), the Baptists, and even the Anglicans, but these discussions largely ended after 1925.
Disciples strive for a New Testament church. They believe that creeds and theological formulas divide the body of Christ, and thus consider the Bible to be the only authority for faith and practice. This belief is reflected in the popular disciple statement, “Where the scriptures speak, we speak; where the scriptures are silent, we are silent.” The church embraces the slogan, “No creed but Christ,” and has no official doctrinal statement of faith. When individuals become members of the church, they are simply asked if they believe in Jesus Christ as their savior; and upon answering yes, they are accepted as members of the church. Baptism is limited to those old enough to make a profession of faith, and is commonly administered by immersion. The Lord’s Supper is a weekly performed ordinance. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as ordinances are considered to be in obedience to Christ’s commands. Lay elders and deacons, both male and female, provide leadership for the church and preside over the ordinances.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada is a member of the Canadian Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and the Disciples Ecumenical Consultative Council.
On January 1, 2006, there were 25 congregations and 30 pastors in Canada, with 2,606 members. Congregations are located in six provinces, the greatest number being in Ontario.
Canadian Disciple, PO Box 23030, 417 Wellington St., St. Thomas, ON, Canada N5R 6A3.
Disciples of Christ in Canada. www.disciplesofchrist.ca/
Butchart, Reuben. The Disciples of Christ in Canada since 1830. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Churches of Christ (Disciples), 1949.
McAllister, L. G., and W. E. Tucker. Journey in Faith: A History of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ. St. Louis, MO: Bethany Press, 1975.
110 Boggs Ln., Ste. 330, Cincinnati, OH 45246
Christian churches and churches of Christ constitute one branch of the restorationist movement that emerged among protestant and free church leaders in the early nineteenth century on the American frontier. Prominent leaders of the movement included Barton Stone (1772–1844, a former Presbyterian), Thomas Campbell (1763–1854) and his son Alexander Campbell (1788–1866) (both also former Presbyterians), and evangelist Walter Scott (1796–1861, a former Baptist). The movement was originally centered in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.
As the movement developed, the leaders rejected denominational structures and labels, preferring to call themselves simply Christians or disciples of Christ, and the congregations as churches of Christ or Christian churches. Accepting the New Testament as the sole authority of faith and resting on the scriptural affirmation that Jesus Christ is the son of God and head of all things for his church, they accepted no creeds and wrote no formal confessions, though they certainly held two strong positions on various sectarian issues drawn from their reading and interpretation of the Bible. They practiced baptism by immersion. The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper was observed weekly each Lord’s Day (Sunday). They were organized congregationally. Each congregation was considered autonomous and led by self-chosen elders and deacons. Periodicals, schools, and the various benevolence enterprises tended to be private self-supporting concerns, the congregations eschewing any formal overall coordinated cooperative activities. Individuals and individual congregations frequently and informally cooperate on a variety of concerns.
Tensions within the movement in the early twentieth century led to its division into three major branches. The introduction of organs of the church in the late nineteenth century became a major issue that led many congregations to separate around 1906, and they are today known as the Churches of Christ (Non-Instrumental). In the ensuing years they have further divided into a number of factions. Disagreements over issues of polity led to a second division. One group, without giving up its congregational polity, began to develop a central office and official structures for coordination of activity and the collection of money, and a convention representative of all the congregations in the fellowship. That process of centralization continued through most of the twentieth century and culminated in 1968 with the restructuring of what is now known as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Those who rejected that move toward centralization are now known as the Christian churches and churches of Christ. The churches are known for their biblical conservatism in relation to the more liberal Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and have made no attempt to relate to the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches.
Working from the voluntary activity of members and congregations and without any central office, the churches have been able to build an impressive ministry beyond the local churches. They support approximately 1,500 missionaries in 53 countries. They have established 38 colleges and three graduate seminaries. They maintain 40 homes for children, 20 homes for the aged, eight nursing homes, and three hospitals in the United States, plus a variety of related facilities in other countries. None of these agencies are official, none are supported by all the congregations. Each has arisen as individuals have seen a need and have been able to solicit support within the fellowship. They are primarily supported by those congregations that choose to avail themselves of their services. In like measure, the churches support numerous Christian camps, campus ministry programs, and radio and television ministries.
The same approach operates at various national, regional, and state conventions and rallies that bring together people for inspiration, instruction, and fellowship, and without the adoption of any positions or the transaction of any business. Among the major conventions nationally is the North American Christian Convention, which met occasionally from 1927 to 1948 and has met annually since 1950. An office in Cincinnati, Ohio, exists merely to manage the mechanics of the convention, which is a significant effort, since some 20,000 persons regularly attend its four-day program. A National Missionary Convention serving the same constituency with a mission-oriented program has met annually since 1947.
A number of publishers serve the Christian churches and churches of Christ. Among the most important is Standard Publishing in Cincinnati, which produces books and study materials especially directed to their needs. It also publishes two major periodicals, Christian Standard and The Lookout. Mission Services Association in Knoxville, Tennessee, publishes many items concerned with missions.
Alaska Christian Bible Institute, Houston, Alaska.
Alberta Bible College, Calgary, Alberta.
Atlanta Christian College, East Point, Georgia.
Bluefield College of Evangelism, Bluefield, West Virginia.
Boise Bible College, Boise, Idaho.
Central Christian College of the Bible, Moberly, Missouri.
Christian Institute of Biblical Studies, Louisville, Kentucky.
Cinncinnati Bible College and Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Colegio Biblico, Eagle Pass, Texas.
College of the Scriptures, Louisville, Kentucky.
Dallas Christian College, Dallas, Texas.
Eastern Christian College, Bel Air, Maryland.
Emmanuel School of Religion, Johnson City, Tennessee.
Florida Christian College, Kissimmee, Florida.
Great Lakes Christian College, Lansing, Michigan.
Grundy Bible Institute, Grundy, Virginia.
Johnson Bible College, Knoxville, Tennessee.
Kentucky Christian College, Grayson, Kentucky.
Lincoln Christian College and Seminary, Lincoln, Illinois.
Louisville Bible College, Louisville, Kentucky.
Manhattan Christian College, Manhattan, Kansas.
Maritime Christian College, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Mid-South Christian College, Memphis, Tennessee.
Midwestern School of Evangelism, Ottumwa, Iowa.
Milligan College, Milligan, Tennessee.
Minnesota Bible College, Rochester, Minnesota.
Nebraska Christian College, Norfolk, Nebraska.
Northwest Christian College, Eugene, Oregon.
Northwest College of the Bible, Portland, Oregon.
Ontario Christian Seminary, Toronto, Ontario.
Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri.
Pacific Christian College, Fullerton, California.
Platte Valley Bible College, Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
Puget Sound Christian College, Edmonds, Washington.
Roanoke Bible College, Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
St. Louis Christian College, Florissant, Missouri.
Summit Theological Seminary, Peru, Indiana.
Winston-Salem Bible College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Christian Standard. Available from Standard Publishing, 8121 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45231. • The Lookout. Available from Standard Publishing. • The Restoration Herald. Available from Christian Restoration Association, 5664 Cheviot Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45147. • Horizons. Available from Mission Services Association, Box 2427, Knoxville, TN 37901-2427. • One Body. Available from College Press Publishing Co., Box 113, Joplin, MO 64802.
Dowling, Enos E. The Restoration Movement. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 1964.
Leggett, Marshall. Introduction to the Restoration Ideal. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 1986.
Murch, James DeForest. Christians Only. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 1962.
NACC, History and Purpose. Cincinnati, OH: North American Christian Convention, 1973.
Walker, Dean E. Adventuring for Christian Unity. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 1935.
Weishimer, P. H. Concerning the Disciples. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 1935.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Christian Congregation claims to be the oldest denominational evangelistic association in the United States. Its work as an unincorporated religious society dates to 1789. It was formally constituted in 1887 during a period when leaders such as Isaac V. Smith, John Chapman, and John L. Puckett were active in the Ohio River Valley. During the early nineteenth century, the group became loosely identified with the Barton Stone (1772–1844) movement that later institutionalized as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), though never organically associated. The first Christian Congregation was formally organized in Kokomo, Indiana, by former members of the Christian Church. They sought a means of union on a noncreedal and nondenominational basis. Beginning with the new commandment of John 13: 34–35, they asserted that the church is founded not upon doctrinal agreement, creeds, church claims, names, or rites, but solely upon the individual’s relation with God.
The basis of this Christian fellowship is love toward one another. The church has doctrinally taken on a universalist, but strongly biblical, perspective. Ethically activated, the perspective has led to a central emphasis upon respect for life and a resultant condemnation of abortion, capital punishment, and all warfare.
The Christian Congregation follows a congregational polity as a “centralized congregational assembly.” Local congregations are semiautonomous. The Bible Colportage Service distributes bibles, Bible helps, and literature for field workers. Most congregations are located in either the inner-city areas of metropolitan complexes or in relatively neglected rural and mountainous regions.
c/o Gospel Advocate, Box 150, Nashville, TN 37202
Churches of Christ (Non-Instrumental) emerged from the more encompassing American Restoration Movement in 1906. Congregations are autonomous, with identification and association based only on shared beliefs and practices. The churches of Christ continue to represent a conservative approach to the Bible.
In the early 1800s, many religious leaders in the United States independently sought to remove any part of religion that was not authorized by the Bible. Thomas Campbell’s (1763–1854) phrase, “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent,” became an identifying motto for those in what came to be known as the American Restoration Movement. Two names in particular rose to prominence for their leadership in this movement: Barton W. Stone (1772–1844) and Alexander Campbell (1788–1866). As interest grew in worshiping according to the Bible, the groups led by these men met for four days during January 1832, in Lexington, Kentucky. Recognizing their common approach to Scripture, they united in fellowship and came to be referred to as the Disciples of Christ or Christian Church.
Unity and growth characterized the church until 1849, when it founded the American Christian Missionary Society in Cincinnati, Ohio. This move was the first of many changes that transformed the Christian Church during a period of a few decades. The opponents of the society did not believe that the Bible authorized organizations outside the church to do its work.
The social and political divisions of American society during and after the Civil War further strained the unity of the Restoration Movement. Most of those in the North followed a continually more progressive approach, whereas Christians in the South took a more strict interpretation of the Bible. Two religious journals mirrored this divide. In 1866 Isaac Errett (1820–1888) became editor of The Christian Standard, which was sympathetic to the churches in the North. Also in 1866, David Lipscomb (1831–1917) became editor of the Gospel Advocate, the leading voice among conservatives.
Errett and Lipscomb differed on many points of doctrine. Errett believed in a one-man pastoral leadership, whereas Lipscomb was opposed to a professional clergy. Errett promoted liturgical practices and instrumental music in worship in contrast to Lipscomb, who argued for maintaining simplicity of worship and the use of vocal music only. Errett had encouraged women in Detroit to take an active public role in worship, whereas Lipscomb believed in exclusive male leadership. Finally, Errett accepted the unimmersed as Christians. Lipscomb taught that baptism was necessary for the remission of sins. By the end of the nineteenth century, these differing approaches to the authority of Scripture led to recognized division. The federal government listed the Christian Church and the churches of Christ separately in the 1906 religious census.
Churches of Christ grew substantially from the 159,000 reported in the 1906 census through the 1950s. Missionaries were sent to Africa and Japan before World War II. After 1945, churches sent teachers to Germany, Italy, and Japan in increased numbers. Domestically, the war years spread churches of Christ to most corners of the United States. Churches of Christ have been active in education and missions.
In the last quarter of the twentieth century, some congregations and institutions among the churches of Christ began to accept a more permissive view of Scripture. These changes closely mirrored those that had divided the churches of Christ from the Disciples of Christ and the Christian Church a century before.
As of September 1, 2007, the denomination’s television program, SEARCH, was in its 27th year of continual broadcast. This program has a firm policy against soliciting money or selling anything on the air. It is funded by local churches of Christ that sponsor the broadcast in their areas.
During 2006 there were an estimated 13,000 churches in the United States with about 1,265,000 members. Worldwide membership is more than 3 million.
Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas.
Amridge University, Montgomery, Alabama.
Cascade College, Portland, Oregon.
Faulkner University, Montgomery, Alabama.
Freed-Hardeman University, Henderson, Tennessee.
Harding University, Searcy, Arkansas.
Heritage Christian University, Florence, Alabama.
Lipscomb University, Nashville, Tennessee.
Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, Texas.
Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Pepperdine University, Malibu, California.
Rochester College, Rochester, Minnesota.
Southwestern Christian College, Terrell, Texas.
York College, York, Nebraska.
Christian Chronicle. Available from PO Box 11000, Oklahoma City, OK 73136. • Christian Woman. Available from 1006 Elm Hill Pike, Nashville, TN 37210. • Firm Foundation. Available from PO Box 690192, Houston, TX, 77269. • Gospel Advocate. Available from 1006 Elm Hill Pike, Nashville, TN 37210. • Truth (Noninstitutional). Available from PO Box 9670, Bowling Green, KY 42102. • Twenty-First Century Christian. Available from PO Box 40304, Nashville, TN 37204.
Brownlow, Leroy. Why I Am a Member of the Church of Christ. Fort Worth, TX: Brownlow Publishing, 1945.
Churches of Christ in the United States. Comp. Carl Royster. Nashville, TN: 21st-Century Christian, 2008.
Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Ed. Douglas A. Foster et al. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005.
Hooper, Robert E. A Distinct People: A History of the Churches of Christ in the 20th Century. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1993.
Shepherd, J.W. The Church, the Falling Away, and the Restoration. Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company, 1977.
West, Earl. Search for the Ancient Order. 5 vols. Nashville, TN, and Delight, AR: Gospel Advocate Company and Gospel Light, 1950–1987.
No central headquarters. For information: c/o Florida College, 119 N. Glen Arven Ave., Temple Terrace, FL 33617
Conservative churches of Christ are part of the Stone/Campbell restoration movement that began in the early nineteenth century. They represent one of the more conservative segments of the churches of Christ that separated from the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) by the end of the nineteenth century due to their objections to missionary societies and the use of instrumental music in church worship.
During the twentieth century, with the growth of institutions serving large segments of the churches of Christ (non-instrumental), there was growing opposition to church support for institutions, sponsoring church arrangements, and projects such as church-sponsored recreation. The dissent became a movement during the 1950s, and became a separate discernible group by the 1960s.
Conservative Churches of Christ remain non-denominational, committed to principles historically rooted in the restoration movement. They hold strongly to a common-sense hermeneutic that finds patterns in the New Testament, forming the scriptural basis for doctrine and practice. Their churches adhere to a strictly congregational organizational structure. Though they emphasize local church autonomy, local churches and church members maintain close contact with one another and provide mutual support. The lack of any centralized governance makes it difficult to be certain about numbers of churches or church members. It is estimated that there are more than 2,200 churches in the United States, and hundreds worldwide.
Evangelistic efforts are supported by conservative Churches of Christ in numerous areas around the world. Numerous periodicals have been important voices of the movement, including the Gospel Guardian, Preceptor, Truth Magazine, Searching the Scriptures, Christianity Magazine, Focus Magazine, and Biblical Insights. Florida College, a four-year liberal arts college located in Temple Terrace, near Tampa, is operated by members of Conservative Churches of Christ, but not by the churches. The college’s annual lectureship serves as a time for many members of the churches to gather for fellowship and study of biblical issues.
More than 120,000 members in more than 2,200 congregations in the United States. There are hundreds of churches in 47 foreign countries.
Florida College, Temple Terrace, Florida.
Biblical Insights, 4001 Preston Hwy., Louisville, KY 40213. • Focus Magazine, 7854 LaBarrington Blvd., Powell, TN 37849. • Preceptor, PO Box 22283, Beaumont, TX 77720. • Truth Magazine, PO Box 9670, Bowling Green, KY 42102.
Lynn, Mac, compiler. Churches of Christ in the United States. Nashville, TN: 21st Century Christian, 2003.
Directory of Churches of Christ. Bowling Green, KY: Guardian of Truth Foundation, 2008.
Harrell, David Edwin, Jr. The Churches of Christ in the Twentieth Century: Homer Hailey’s Personal Journey of Faith. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2000.
———. A Social History of the Disciples of Christ, Vol. 1: Quest for a Christian America. Vol. 2: The Social Sources of Division in the Disciples of Christ, 1865–1900. Nashville, TN: Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1966–1973.
Hooper, Robert E. A Distinct People: A History of the Churches of Christ in the Twentieth Century. West Monroe, LA: Howard Publishing, 1993.
Hughes, Richard T. Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996.
West, Earl Irvin. The Search for the Ancient Order. 4 vols. Indianapolis, IN: Religious Book Service, 1950–1987.
c/o Old Paths Advocate, Don L. King, 1147 Sherry Way, Livermore, CA 94550
Following a growing trend in American Protestantism, Church of Christ minister G. C. Brewer (b. 1884) introduced the use of individual cups in the communion (as opposed to one cup for all communing) into the churches of Christ in the congregation at Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1915. Over the next three decades the practice spread, not without controversy, and became dominant, especially in newly formed congregations. In 1913 a periodical, The Apostolic Way, was founded by Dr. G. A. Trott, H. C. Harper, and W. G. Rice, to fight what they considered the intrusion of Sunday schools into the worship of the Churches of Christ. This same periodical took up the fight against individual cups. In 1928 Harper founded a second periodical, The Truth, which in 1932 changed its name to Old Paths Advocate. The onecup faction within the larger Churches of Christ movement remains a small minority, with congregations spread across the United States and in several foreign countries.
In 2002, the churches reported 450 congregations in the United States and 1,500 congregations spread through Africa, Australia, the Philippines, Mexico, England, Scotland, and Malaysia.
Old Paths Advocate, 1147 Sherry Way, Livermore, CA 94550
Old Paths Advocate. www.oldpathsadvocate.org.
No central headquarters yet established.
The issue of Sunday schools has plagued the Churches of Christ during the entire twentieth century. An increasingly smaller group of leaders held that anything practiced by the church without command, example, or necessary inference from Scripture was wrong, particularly Sunday schools. In 1936, Gospel Tidings, edited by G. B. Shelburne Jr. was begun in support of the non-Sunday school cause. Bill Adcox currently is editor of the periodical. It has been joined by the Christian Appeal and the West Coast Evangel. Churches are concentrated in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Indiana, California, and Oregon. Missions are supported in India, Mexico, Uganda, and the Ukraine. One of church’s benevolent works is maintaining the Berean Children’s Home in Brookhaven, Mississippi.
Not reported. There are an estimated 500 to 600 congregations and 25,000 to 30,000 members.
West Angelo School of Evangelism, San Angelo, Texas.
Gospel Tidings. Available from PO Box 726, Bethany, Oklahoma 73008-0726. • Christian Appeal • West Coast Evangel.
Berean Children’s Home Churches. www.bereanhome.org/
Gospel Tidings. www.gospeltidings.com
Current address could not be obtained for this edition.
Premillennialism became a major issue in American Protestantism in the late nineteenth century as fundamentalism developed. The term refers to the belief that Christ will return before the end of the world to establish his thousand-year reign. In the first quarter of the twentieth century premillennialism heavily influenced the churches of Christ. A churches of Christ periodical with a premillennialist perspective, Word and Work, emerged in Louisville, Kentucky, and in the early 1930s a radio show focused on premillennial beliefs, Words of Life, began airing; the latter is now heard in much of the eastern United States.
The premillennialist churches of Christ congregations support several schools and one Christian home. Missionaries are active in Africa, Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Greece. Approximately 100 congregations support the annual Louisville Christian Fellowship Week every August. Churches are concentrated in Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas.
Not reported. Membership is estimated at 12,000.
Conference on Spiritual Renewal, Box 457, Missouri City, TX 77459
As the charismatic movement moved through the major denominations in the late 1960s, it began to attract both ministers and laity in congregations of the Churches of Christ. Among the early charismatics was singer Pat Boone, who in 1971 was disfellowshipped from his congregation in Inglewood, California. Among the early ministers to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and subsequently speak in tongues (the definitive experience of members of the charismatic movement) were Dean Dennis, Dwyatt Gantt, and Don Finto. In 1976 a group of 12 ministers met in Nashville, Tennessee, where Finto led the Belmont Church of Christ and organized the first Conference on Spiritual Renewal. The conference, which still meets annually, provided a unifying structure for those involved with the movement.
Like other segments of the Churches of Christ, the Charismatic churches are loosely organized in a congregation-free church polity. There is no central head quarters or governing structure. Intercongregational gatherings are for fellowship and inspiration only. Prominent congregations identified with the charismatic Churches of Christ include Orange Park Christian Church, Jacksonville, Florida; Calvary Chapel, Atlanta, Georgia; and Quail Ridge Church of Christ, Memphis, Tennessee. Some of these congregations deviate from the main body of the Churches of Christ by their introduction of instrumental music. Popular recording star Amy Grant is a member of Belmont Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Church of Christ Today. Los Angeles, CA: Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, 1971.
Ambrose, George. “God Said It. I Believe It. That Settles It.” Charisma 9, no. 11 (July 1984).
“Amy Grant, How the Word Is a Light unto Her Path.” Charisma 11, no. 12 (July 1986).
Buckingham, Jamie. “The Music of Spiritual Awakening.” Charisma 9, no. 11 (July 1984).
c/o Bengal Christian Church, 3534 S. Shelby 750 W, Franklin, IN 46131
The Evangelical Christian Church traces its beginnings to the formal organization of the Christian Church in 1804, in Bourbon County, Kentucky, under the leadership of Barton Warren Stone (1772–1844). The Stone movement later merged with the efforts of Thomas Campbell (1763–1854) and his son Alexander Campbell (1788–1866) to become the Restoration Movement that gave birth to the Churches of Christ (Non-Instrumental), the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The Evangelical Christian Church, as a new group within the Restoration tradition, was reorganized in 2001.
Through the early twentieth century, many Restoration churches, not otherwise apart of the three larger Restoration bodies, existed under such names as Evangelical Christian Churches, Christian Churches of North America, Christian Missionary Churches, Bible Evangelical Churches, Community Churches, and Evangelical Congregational Churches. Some of these came together in 1966 as the Evangelical Christian Churches, Farmland, Indiana. The majority of these congregations that have not been otherwise absorbed continue as the Evangelical Christian Churches, Albany, Indiana.
The Evangelical Christian Church attempts to continue the Restoration tradition as embodied in its several slogans, “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak. Where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent”; “In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, love;” “We are not the only Christians. We are Christians only”; and “No creed but Christ. No book but the Bible.” It seeks to perpetuate the message first preached by Stone and his colleagues. It includes an emphasis on a nontrinitarian approach to God as Father, Jesus Christ as Lord and savior, the Holy Spirit as the power and energy of God, and the Bible as the sufficient rule of faith and practice. In general, the church considers itself a conservative non-creedal Christian body.
The church has divided the country into six regions and assigned a district minister as a contact point with the congregations and ministers in the assigned state. National leadership is placed in its officers, including the national pastor, the general pastor, the board of elders, the regional pastors, and the president of the Historical Society. The national and general pastor constitute the executive staff. Ordinations are approved by the national pastor, and ministerial credentials come from the office of the national pastor. Women are welcomed into the ministry.
New Wineskins Magazine, PO Box 41028, Nashville, TN 37204-1028. • Restoration Herald, 7133 Central Parke Blvd., Mason, OH 45040.
708 Morris Ct., Lombard, IL 60148
The International Churches of Christ (ICOC) dates its history from June 1979, when a group of members in a small and declining congregation of the Churches of Christ (Non-Instrumental) in Lexington, Massachusetts (a Boston suburb), made a new commitment to devote their lives to restoring the Christianity of the Bible. Their new minister, Kip McKean, challenged the 30 members of the small congregation to totally commit their lives to Christ and to hold that same commitment as a biblical standard for all of the people they would convert to Christ. He soon developed a series of Bible lessons called First Principles, and asked the members of the church to learn them and teach the Scriptures to others. This process became the bedrock of a program of transforming nominal church members into active disciples. Prior to being baptized, new members were asked to commit themselves to becoming disciples, not just people who warmed a church pew. Previously baptized Christians who had not made such a commitment prior to their baptism, were rebaptized. The church came to believe and teach that a true Church of Christ was composed totally of disciples. As disciples, each member was expected to be evangelistic.
As the church grew, it moved into Boston proper and took the name the Boston Church of Christ. It met for Sunday worship and midweek services in rented facilities, thus allowing it to redirect its financial resources to ministry rather than buildings. A new Christian was assigned an older member as a discipleship partner and invited into a discipleship group that met weekly. A special program was developed by Elena McKean and Pat Gempel to meet the needs of the female disciples and to avoid possible temptations in the dynamics of men and women in personal counseling. Only males occupy the positions of elder, deacon, and evangelist. Couples, however, always lead together and the women have the full responsibility of the women’s ministry. One of the most successful programs of the ICOC has been its Woman’s Day seminars held around the world. In 1997, 9,000 women attended this event in Los Angeles alone.
Imitating the spread of the New Testament church, in 1981, McKean developed a plan that he believed would allow for the evangelism of the world in one generation. This plan envisioned sending a small group of disciples to key urban centers. They would grow a congregation and it would become the pillar from which teams of disciples would be sent to each of the world’s capitals. From the capitals, the movement would move on to the other, smaller cities, until the world would be evangelized in one generation. This plan was introduced to the Boston Church of Christ as a whole in October 1981. In 1982 the first churches were planted in Chicago and London. Over the next few years additional churches were planted in New York City, Toronto, and Providence, Rhode Island. In 1986 churches were opened in Johannesburg, Paris, and Stockholm. In the meantime some older Churches of Christ congregations and ministries became affiliated with the growing movement. In order to do this each church went through a process termed “reconstruction,” and each of the former members was called upon to decide if they wanted to be a disciple.
The implementation of this plan, with its direction coming from the leadership in Boston, represented a major departure in organization from that traditionally followed by the Churches of Christ (Non-instrumental). The Boston Church of Christ leadership saw their movement as creating one church family. The churches would start churches that would plant other churches and they would all remain unified. The implementation of this plan led to a separation by the traditional Churches of Christ denomination from the new movement. Due to the rapid growth of the movement, men were set aside as “world sector leaders” and given responsibility for evangelizing different regions of the world. In 1990 McKean moved to Los Angeles to build a new church and Los Angeles became the headquarters for the movement.
In 1994 Kip and Elena McKean, the World Sector Leaders, and their wives signed the Evangelization Proclamation stating their intent to, by the year 2000, plant a church in every nation that has a city of at least 100,000 in population. The International Churches of Christ had 146 churches in 53 nations at the time of the Evangelization Proclamation. By the end of 1997, it had 312 churches in 124 nations and reached its Proclamation goal in mid-2000.
Since 2000 the ICOC has experienced immense internal turmoil. In November 2001 World Sector leaders announced that the McKeans would be on sabbatical. This move was a result of concerns over the stability of the McKean family life, especially since Olivia McKean, Kip and Elena’s daughter, had left the movement earlier in the year. In November 2002 Kip resigned as world evangelist and Elena gave up her position as world women’s leader. Their resignations came at the same time that ICOC leaders abandoned the model of World Sector leadership.
In February 2003 prominent British ICOC leader Henry Kriete wrote a stinging critique of the state of the movement under the title “Honest to God”. In July the McKeans moved to Portland, Oregon and Kip released a circular letter to the whole church under the title “From Babylon to Zion” announcing that he was ready to reengage as world leader. However, tensions between Kip and ICOC leadership continued, coming to a head in 2005 when 84 leaders withdrew fellowship from him. In turn, McKean formed the Sold-Out Discipling Movement Churches in 2006. As part of the Sold-Out movement, the next year he and his wife established the new City of Angels International Christian Church in Los Angeles.
Doctrinally, the International Churches of Christ shares a Bible-based Free Church perspective with the traditional Churches of Christ (Instrumental), but has developed several unique beliefs. While the International Churches of Christ does not believe it is the exclusive home of Christians, it has basically held the position that it is God’s movement for this period of history. It also holds that each member should be a disciple, obey the Scriptures according to Matthew 28:18-20, and be a part of evangelizing the world in this generation. The ICOC organized a volunteer program, HOPE Worldwide which has conducted a variety of social service projects in over 125 countries around the world. In 1996 HOPE Worldwide was granted special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and registered with USAID. HOPE has since become a separate benevolent organization. Discipleship Publications International is the ICOC publishing concern.
The formal structure of the ICOC was dismantled in the fall of 2002. From 2003 to 2006 the ICOC experienced a deep re-evaluation of its mission and style of leadership. Most of the churches have committed to a cooperation agreement. A group of delegates from the world regions of the movement select a chairman for each of the ten service teams who focus on the needs of various ministries worldwide. International conferences are held for leadership, campus, youth and family, and singles.
As of October 1997, the ICOC reported 93,000 members, with a worldwide Sunday attendance of over 155,000. There were 312 congregations in 124 countries. By 2000 Sunday attendance was over 200,000. There were major losses in 2003 and 2004. The ICOC leadership estimated membership at the end of 2007 at 90,130, a 1.7 percent increase over 2006 but a 33 percent decline from the peak membership in 2002 of 135,046. As of 2007 there were 562 congregations worldwide.
LA Story. • Kingdom Network News (a video magazine).
While the International Churches of Christ formally began in 1979, it originated out of an older movement variously known as the Discipling movement, a pan-denominational movement which emerged among Evangelical Christians in the 1960s. It was distinguished by its attempts to transform nominal Christians to active disciples and was characterized by the assignment of each new Christian to an older, more mature Christian with whom they met regularly, at least weekly. The older Christian had the responsibility of mentoring the younger disciple and encouraging the steady progress in the life of faith.
The Discipling movement came into the Churches of Christ through the Crossroads Church of Christ, a congregation in Gainesville, Florida. By adopting a form of the Discipleship program in its campus outreach, it grew spectacularly. Among the people led into the ministry through the Crossroads Church was Kip McKean.
The Discipling movement spread through the Churches of Christ and became quite controversial. As members of a conservative movement, many with the Churches of Christ rejected the changes brought by the new movement and a number of publications denouncing it appeared. Eventually, the Crossroads Church withdrew its support from the movement and the remnants of it within the Churches of Christ tended to reorient its allegiance to the Boston Church of Christ. As the Boston Church of Christ grew, its opponents among the Churches of Christ (Non-instrumental) were joined by members of the anti-cult movement. The ICOC has long been accused of being a destructive cult with standard allegations about authoritarian leadership and brainwashing. These allegations have diminished since the resignation of Kip McKean as world leader in 2002 and the abandonment of World Sector leadership.
ICOC Co-Operation Churches. www.icocco-op.org.
The Disciple’s Handbook. Los Angeles: Discipleship Publications International, 1997. 177 pp.
Disciples Today. www.disciplestoday.org.
Ferguson, Gordon. Discipleship: God’s Plan to Train and Transform His People. Los Angeles: Discipleship Publications International, 1997. 251 pp.
———. Prepared to Answer. Los Angeles: Discipleship Publications International, 1995. 219 pp.
Geissler, Rex. Born of Water: What the Bible Really Says about Baptism. Long Beach: Grand Commission International, 1996. 140 pp.
Giambalvo, Carol, and Herbert L. Rosedale, eds. The Boston Movement: Critical Perspective on the International Churches of Christ. Bonita Springs, FL: American Family Foundation, 1996. 243 pp.
Jacoby, Doug. True & Reasonable. Los Angeles: Discipleship Publications International, 1994. 109 pp.
Nelson, Robert. Understanding the Crossroads Controversy. Fort Worth, TX: Star Bible Publications, 1986.
Paden, Russell. “From the Churches of Christ to the Boston Movement: A Comparative Study.” M.A. Thesis, University of Kansas, 1994.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
Among the people who strongly opposed the restructuring of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the 1960s was Dr. Alvin E. Houser, pastor of a large congregation in Centex, Texas. As the debate on restructuring continued, he formed the National Association of Free Christians. His position was conservative theologically and focused on the radical congregationalism of traditional Christian Church thinking. After restructuring became inevitable, the Association of Free Christians became the National Association of Free, Autonomous Christian Churches, with most of its strength in the Southwest.
601 Marinella, Irvine, CA 92606
The Sold-Out Discipling Movement Churches was founded in 2006 by Kip McKean (b. 1954), the founder of the International Churches of Christ (ICOC), a movement that emerged from within the older Churches of Christ movement. McKean led the ICOC until his resignation as world leader in 2002. His plans in 2003 to reemerge as ICOC head floundered and in 2005 a group of 84 ICOC leaders withdrew fellowship from McKean. By this time McKean had established himself as a church leader in Portland, Oregon, and following the withdrawal of fellowship many of the ICOC members shifted their allegiance to McKean to become part of the new Sold-Out group. In 2007 McKean started a Los Angeles group, known as the City of Angels International Christian Church. McKean is now world evangelist for the Sold-Out movement.
The split between ICOC and the Sold-Out churches is largely over allegiance to McKean as leader. Doctrinally, both groups adopt a conservative, evangelical Protestant theology with the Church of Christ’s emphasis on the believer’s baptism. The ICOC has abandoned its early emphasis on worldwide church government in favor of more autonomy for the local churches.
As of mid-2008, the Sold-Out movement has 14 congregations in the United States and 16 international congregations.
City of Angels International Christian Church. www.caicc.net.
Global Internet Ministry of The City of Angels International Christian Church. www.upsidedown21.org.
Kip McKean. www.kipmckean.org.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Tioga River Christian Conference was formed in 1844 in Covington, Tioga County, Pennsylvania. It was for many years a constituent part of the Christian Church. In 1931, however, the conference rejected the merger of the Christian Church with the Congregational Church. The conference adopted articles of faith manifesting belief in the Trinity, the Bible as the Word of God, sin and salvation, the local church, Satan, resurrection, and eternal life. There is an annual meeting of the conference for fellowship and business. A nine-man mission board oversees missions in Bolivia, Peru, and India. His Messenger is the conference’s quarterly periodical. There are 13 churches in New York and Pennsylvania. Headquarters are in Binghamton, New York.