Vol.V No.VI Pg.6
August 1968

History Of Societies

Robert F. Turner

Last month, and for the next few issues, we quote THE DISCIPLES IN KENTUCKY, by A. W. Fortune. Here the beginning of the Missionary Society is analyzed by one who advocates and promotes such institutions.

"At the Lexington meeting at the beginning of 1832 the leaders of the Disciples and Christians in Kentucky pledged themselves to work for the union of these two bodies. It was decided to send out two men, one from each of these two bodies, to be state evangelists. They were to go among the churches and hold evangelistic meetings, with the special task of uniting Disciples and Christians..... This was the first missionary society of the Disciples of Kentucky, and it can rightly be regarded as the forerunner of the Kentucky Christian Missionary Society, for it was to do the same work which this society was later organized to do. "(Pp. 197-198)

"Because of their insistence on a 'thus saith the Lord' for every new step taken, and because of to a 'hireling ministry,' many of the Disciples refused to have anything to do with this cooperative movement." (Pp. 198)

"Annual meetings of the churches of counties and districts soon became the general custom in Kentucky. J.B. Radford, writing from Christian County, November 6, 1838, announced that they were expecting 'to have a convention of churches, the Lord willing, at Orkadelphia, to elect and send out an evangelist.' He was doubtful whether they would succeed." (Pp. 203)

There was a growing feeling in Kentucky, notwithstanding the opposition, that there was need of an organization of the churches which would function throughout the year. Since 1832 there had been missionary organizations to promote evangelism; and since 1840 the churches had held an annual meeting for the purpose of cooperating in the work of the state, but the conviction was becoming general that the work was not being adequately done.... There was thus no permanent organization to promote the work during the year. The state meeting could merely, appropriate what the delegates brought." (Pp.209)

"There is a very interesting article in the issue of April 13, (Ecclesiastic Reformer, 1850, rft) by S. Ayers of Danville, in which he maintained that it would be better for the churches of the state to come together and plan their course of action than to allow a preacher, an editor, or some other zealous and inventive genius... to concoct some novel scheme, which will soon be abandoned for something else." (Pp. 2:4)

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Do you get the uneasy feeling that this "early church history" really sounds like TODAY? If there is an ounce of perception left in you, and you are keeping up with developments among today's promoters of "Area-wide" and "brotherhood" campaigns, Herald of Truth, etc., you SHOULD recognize the language.

Collective action on the part of churches violates congregational independence, and is wrong in principle.