Vol.V No.V Pg.6
July 1968

"Area-Wide" Movements?

Robert F. Turner

Cooperation, then Conferences, and then Missionary Societies; this was the route of early digressions in the organizational structure of the church. Alonzo Willard Fortune, Christian Church author of The Disciples in Kentucky, publ. 1932; is quoted in the following excerpts.


CHARACTER OF DIST. CONFERENCES: "This letter by Thomas M. Allen throws much light on the inner development of the churches, and especially, on the nature of the conferences. The meeting which began on the 19th. (Sept. 1829, rft) continued until Monday, the 22nd.

On the Lord's Day the Lord's Supper was attended to, and between six and eight hundred united in commemorating the dying suffering of their exalted Savior." Mr. Allen, in summarizing the letters from the churches, said, "They contend for the independency of the church, maintain that it is the highest religious tribunal on earth -- but while they this believe, they are, however, willing to co-operate with their brethren in periodical meetings, the object of which is to obtain religious information, learn of each other their prosperity and situation, and worship together." (Pp. 59, Disciples in Kentucky.)

"The Long Run Association, which met in Bullit County in September, 1825, was called to act on a circular letter, written by "P.S. Fall, bishop of the church in Louisville, advocating the Scriptures as the only

sufficient, perfect, and infallible rule of Christian faith and manners." The church in Louisville of which P. S. Fall was pastor had sent the following queries to the churches of that association with the request that they express their sentiment upon them in their next letters. (1) Is there any authority in the New Testament for religious bodies to make human creeds and confessions of faith the constitutions or directories of such bodies in matters of faith or practice? (2) Is there any authority in the New Testament for Associations? If so, what is it? If not, why are they held? The proposition to accept the Bible as the rule of faith was rejected by the "casting vote of Elder George Waller, moderator of said meeting." (Pp. 72, ibid.

CO-OP MEETINGS CHANGE CHARACTER: "These co-operative meetings became very common after 1830. At first they were for inspiration and for the general discussion of the common problems they were facing. It was not long, however, until there was the additional purpose of planning co-operative work." (Pp. 111, ibid.)

"There is no phase of the history of the Disciples in Kentucky that is more interesting than the development of the spirit of co-operation among the churches. This co-operation, which began among those advocating reform before the Disciples became a distinct communion, developed as there was a necessity. This inevitably led to a general organization, the Kentucky Christian Missionary Society, which was the agency of the churches for the work of evangelism in the State." (Pp. 197, ibid.)