Vol.V No.VII Pg.6
September 1968

Door To "Restructure"

Robert F. Turner

The "Restructuring" of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has been a major news item among denominations in recent years. Our former brethren have dropped their plea for congregational independence and autonomy — which they had not practiced in many years — and have openly advocated and planned for an organic oneness in their denomination.

What started them on this course ?? The answer is collective action of churches — "churchhood" projects that pool the resources from many congregations under a board or "sponsoring" eldership, so that many churches work as one. Our brethren today dislike — even refuse to consider this answer — but church history cries it aloud.

We continue our quotes from THE DISCIPLES IN KENTUCKY, by A. W. Fortune.(See past two issues of P. T.)


"The fact that general societies had been organized was another reason why a more definite organization of the churches in the state was demanded. That is indicated by the nature of the call. It suggested that in addition to encouraging greater effort in behalf of Sunday Schools in the churches, and the securing of reports from the churches, the meeting should consider the propriety of giving aid to the recently established Bible and Missionary Societies at Cincinnati."

"The items of business considered at the district meeting at the Upper Hanging Fork Church, in Lincoln County, Sept. 27, 1850, are typical of the others and indicate the breadth of interest in one of these meetings:" (1) Evangelizing in the district. (2) State evangelizing in connection with the state meeting. (3) Foreign missions. (4) Bible translation. (5) Orphan asylum. (6) Education. (7) Duties and powers of elders. (8) Amusements." (From minutes published in Ecclesiastic Reformer) (P.211, 223DK)

"The leaders were convinced that organization was absolutely imperative, not only for evangelistic purposes, but also for the protection of the churches. J. T. Johnson suggested a plan for regulating the evangelists so that the churches would not be imposed upon.". . . "When there was no general organization of the churches it was easy for an evangelist of unsavory reputation (including "Anti-s" who opposed missionary society, rft) in one community to impose upon a church in another community. The county or district meetings which were attended by the preachers made it much more difficult for unworthy preachers to continue. They were known and their character was exposed." (P.204)

"Aylette Raines, in the CHRISTIAN TEACHER, vigorously opposed the state meetings and the organization which was developing, and he undoubtedly expressed the attitude of many others. He objected on the ground that "they are opposed to apostolic example." ... ''He believed there were tendencies which, unless checked, would lead to state organizations and to a "United States organization of the congregations" which would be a dangerous consolidation of power." (P. 209, ibid.)

My Brethren, Will We Never Learn?