note: I’ve still not worked out how Katherine can post her own material, so she sent me the following post which I am putting up for her. This is Katherine’s material. – Mr. Answer
As I write this, there are thousands of men and women from over 170 countries who have gathered at the World Convention in Nashville, TN. Every four years since 1930, those who have a history in the Restoration Movement-which includes the Christian churches, Disciples of Christ, and churches of Christ gather together for this event in different venues. This is the first time in 16 years that it is being held in the United States.
I had never heard about this until a few months ago, but as someone who has a vested interest in this movement and heritage, this is VERY encouraging. I would encourage you to go to their site and read more about the convention, our history, and efforts to unify around the common bond of Jesus Christ.
They describe this gathering as “a time of worship, fellowship, and sharing; but more importantly a time of expressing our UNITY IN DIVERSITY. There is recognition and appreciation of each others traditions and practices, while at the same time affirming our unity in Jesus Christ and our common heritage in a unity movement which began over 200 years ago”.
They claim that “For over 75 years we have been working to build fellowship, understanding, common purpose and effectiveness within the family of churches known as Christian, churches of Christ, and the Disciples of Christ”.
Lorraine and Lyndsey Jacobs, the former General Secretaries of the World Convention have written a great article entitled “Are We There Yet?”
They claim “Now is an appropriate time to be looking ahead. As the world moved into the twenty-first century, our global family moves into its third century. This is our bicentennial era of the Stone and Campbell movements. And it is also clear that we are ‘not there yet’. That also makes it ‘map and compass’ time.
You probably know the saying that ‘those who without goals are bound to achieve them’. Unless we shape our third century (seeking God’s presence and leading under the Lordship of Christ), our third century will most certainly shape us.
The pioneers in our movement were deeply concerned that the church of their time was not effective in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. They saw division of the church, which had broken down even further in many cases into bitter sectarianism, as one of the major obstacles to the church’s witness. A divided church could not, without hypocrisy, preach the gospel of reconciliation.
How could unity, they wondered-the unity which Christ prayer for ‘that the world might believe’-be achieved?
The question led to their vision of a church united by restoring ‘the ancient order of things’-returning to the New Testament to discover what the church was to be like. Surely, they felt, that would be a sound basis for all Christians to find their unity in Christ.
Unity became their polar star. Unity was to be an end in itself but unity would guide the church to becoming the serving, witnessing, universal church of Jesus Christ.
In this transformed Christian community (which they at first hoped to achieve from within existing denominations), there would be ‘unity in essentials, liberty in nonessentials and love in all things’.”
There are many churches that have gone back into the bitter sectarianism way and have gone FAR away from the original goals of our movement-of unity and love, of being “Christians only, but not the only Christians”. They have missed the point of Jesus’ prayer and have decided to separate themselves from anyone that may differ with them. Some do it unknowingly and some do it willingly. Many claim no ties to our history whatsoever-which I believe is only to their detriment. This is especially true for those that claim we are the “one true church” because it would ruin that premise. We can learn a lot from history-the good, the bad, and the ugly-and move forward from here. To ignore it is useless-it will still be there. I love that these people who participate in the World Convention are embracing and learning from history-not letting it shape them-but are coming together to search for ways to unify HERE and NOW amidst our differences, in order to further the kingdom of God.
So, where do we go from here? That will be addressed in the next post…for now, what are your thoughts?