Vol.XII No.X Pg.4
December 1975

"Our" Rally Points

Robert F. Turner

Brethren today who espouse collective action of churches (through sponsoring church or other arrangements) may not intentionally promote national denominational organization. But such co-operation was that which kept alive earlier attempts to so organize the church (universal). Note the following from Disciples of Western Reserve by digressive A.S. Hayden.

All our past history proclaims the necessity of a combination of effort to advance the gospel. This cause originated in conventional effort. After three years these associational plans were laid aside, and we subsided, on this point, into a state of apostasy. During the last twenty years we have been slowly recovering and steadily returning to our first works. (P. 461)

The three years reference is to the period just prior to the dissolving of the Mahoning Baptist Association, where churches were combining funds and sending forth evangelists on a co-operative basis. The 20 yrs. (from that dissolution, to the organization of the American Christian Missionary Society, 1849) Hayden regards as a time of apostasy. The iconoclast was among us he says elsewhere. Then, what pulled the digressive desire for organization of churches through this terrible (to them) time?

From page 462: The twenty years succeeding is the period of our anarchy. During this time we had no concert) regular or irregular, stated or incidental, if we except some ineffectual efforts to bring a better order into existence. The great saving power was the yearly meeting system. (Emphasis mine, rt) This, serving as a bond of union, was a powerful support to the cause. These meetings were the conservation of the churches. By diffusing a general, personal acquaintance, they cultivated a strong tie of brotherhood. Yet with all their benefits, which were neither few nor weak, they were not organic. They sent out no missionaries; they called for no reports; they performed no action for the churches, nor for the systematic diffusion of the gospel During these years many attempts were made to form co-operations. They were failures. The cry of priest-craft, or sectarianism, was along sufficient to blast the effort for order. (organization, rft)

Hayden regards a school as that which put the brotherhood (of churches) concept into operation — not because it was an educational institution, but because it was regarded as our school, a churchhood project.

The first fact, or action, which gathered to it a general confidence, was the establishment of the Eclectic Institute. It opened its halls for students in November, 1850... The chief glory of that institution has not been told: which was, that it created a most desirable and useful general confidence among us. We united. We joined hands around one good enterprise. The purpose succeeded, and vindicated the most useful sentiment of union in action... This confidence is transferring itself to our missionary work. Around this society let it rally till it shall become a permanent power in the land.