History of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

In frontier America, many settlers hoped for a new approach to religion that would free them from European church structures (which did not meet America's needs).  Frontier people lived by their own ingenuity.  They wanted practical, down-to-earth religion to help them cope with and understand a hard life.  As individuals, they felt they could read and interpret the Bible for themselves and build faith on reason.  The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was born out of this search.

1804:  Presbyterian minister Barton W. Stone and several followers broke their denominational ties to enter into unity with "the body of Christ at large".  They called themselves simply "Christians".  The Cane Ridge log meeting house, erected near Paris, Kentucky in 1791, became the first congregation of the Christian Church under Stone's leadership.

1811:  A group led by Presbyterian minister Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander, began meeting independently in western Pennsylvania, saying the church of Jesus Christ was one, open to all.

1820:  Alexander Campbell began public debates which, along with his writing, propelled him into leadership of the "Disciples of Christ".

1832:  Followers of Stone and Campbell united in Lexington, Kentucky.  The "Christians" and the "Disciples of Christ" joined together with a formal handshake.  They agreed on basic beliefs and aims.

Today, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is one of the largest churches founded on American soil, with more than 1.2 million members in 4,400 congregations across the United States and Canada.

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