“Today, congregations of the Stone-Campbell movement celebrate the 200th anniversary of Thomas Campbell’s “Declaration and Address.” This statement was copied from the website http://www.greatcommunion.org. It was something I had never heard of until about a year ago, but saw lots of planning come to fruition tonight.
I was approached by a local minister and asked if I was interested in getting together to plan this event for our area. He explained that it was an event to bring the Christian Church and Church of Christ together for an event that marks the above mentioned anniversary. I agreed to do so because it was a huge step for our movement in this area and the possibilities of future love and respect for our brothers and sisters in the Christian Church and beyond. I felt too that it was just the right thing to do.
The event went very well. I don’t know the exact number, but there were about 200 people there if my ability to do “preacher counts” is still in me.
The event was begun with an explanation of what was about to take place. After that there was prayer followed by special music sung by a combined choir of people from the five churches that participated. We then had a lovely solo sung by one of the ladies from First Christian. The Christian Church minister gave a wonderful history of what we were doing. He spoke of a unity which was based completely in Jesus and not the things which we have allowed ourselves to be separated over throughout the years. The congregation burst into applause at the end of his message. It was really powerful.
After more singing, we partook in the communion meal together. Two elders from each of the five churches were serving. That was awesome to see these elders standing in front united in Jesus. We took the bread by holding it until everyone was served. One of the presiding elders held up the bread and said, “The body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Then we ate together. We did the same with the cup. After a couple of more songs, we had some closing remarks and then I led the final prayer.
Reading about this in a blog makes it seem like just another a simple service, but it was so much more. It was significant because the history of our movement has not done this kind of thing in our area much, if ever. Or if it has, I’ve not been in the know about it. It’s also significant because I think it can mark a new beginning for our churches. Jesus said that our love for one another would be the deciding factor that determined how people would know we were Jesus’ disciples. Shouldn’t that be enough?
I felt a huge pull on my heart tonight to do more. I want to be used by God, if He allows, to make further moves toward unity. Not just within our Campbell-Stone Movement, but throughout the area amongst believers. It’s time to continue tearing down walls and start building bridges so that the world will be able to more clearly see Jesus living in us.
The word “communion” has at it’s core “community.” We are to be about the business of bringing together those in and out of Jesus for the sake of kingdom! Some of Jesus’ last words on this earth were, “I pray Father that they all be one.” Let’s work to make Jesus’ prayer a reality.
The final speaker tonight spoke of how this event in and of itself was not “unity.” He said that it was only a picture of what real unity could look like. The real unity we are looking for has to be lived out in the kingdom living of the disciples of Jesus. That means it all depends on you and me. Sounds like we’ve got work to do.