Dallas – More than 500 persons from a cappella Churches of Christ, the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) joined in worship and communion in Dallas recently to open the 10th session of the Stone-Campbell Dialogue team.
Representatives from each of the three streams of the Stone-Campbell movement gathered at Skillman Church of Christ June 5-6 to explore the theme of “the way we interpret the Bible.” Papers were presented by Dr. Eugene Boring, retired professor of New Testament at Brite Seminary in Ft. Worth, on behalf of the Disciples; Dr. Mark Hamilton, professor of Bible at Abilene Christian University, Abilene on behalf of the Churches of Christ and Dr. Tony Springer, professor of Church History at Dallas Christian College on behalf of the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.
In their discussion, team members found a great deal of convergence and common understanding on scriptural interpretation. A small group will take results of this meeting to shape a draft statement for presentation next year toward acceptance as a “common statement on Scripture.”
Dialogue team member Robert Welsh, president of the Disciples’ Council on Christian Unity, said, “I was encouraged a great deal by this 10th session of our dialogue, both by the content of the discussion in facing what had been seen to be the fundamental issue separating us within the Stone-Campbell family (the authority of Scripture) and by the wonderful service of worship that brought so many together on Sunday evening to worship and praise God, and to share in receiving the bread and cup of Holy Communion as a sign of our oneness in Christ.”
Peter Morgan, retired president of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, said, “We were able to have serious conversation without separating. It was a hallelujah moment in my heart.”
The team also spent important time on their idea for a 2009 “Great Communion Celebration” in partnership with the board of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. This event would mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address when it is hoped that thousands of Christians from across the three streams of the movement will join in celebration of the Lord¹s Supper in local communities all across North America.
In preparation for the 2009 event, the Dialogue team will provide study materials for use in congregational settings. Disciples team member Diane Spleth, pastor of Franklin Central Christian Church, volunteered to combine drafts of a Congregational Workbook into a document that could be tested in a few congregations before the Dialogue’s next meeting.
The Stone-Campbell Dialogue team will meet in Nashville on June 11 to 13, 2006, to produce a common statement on interpretation and authority of Scripture, to finalize the Congregational Workbook and to generate ideas on how to promote unity across the three streams of the Stone-Campbell movement.
The Dialogue is important to Disciples, Welsh said, “because it opens to us the possibility of healing the divisions within our own house, within the Stone-Campbell movement, as a part of our larger work and conversations in our quest for Christian unity.”
Members of the Dialogue team are:
For Christian Churches/Churches of Christ: Paul Blowers, John Mills, James North, Robert Rea, Randy Snyder, Henry Webb
For the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): Timothy James, William McDonald, Peter Morgan, Arnold Nelson, Diane Spleth, Robert Welsh, Newell Williams
For Churches of Christ: Douglas Foster, Carol Gafford, Gary Holloway, Gary Pearson, Charme Robarts, Jerry Taylor
Observers: Victor Knowles (POEM Ministries and member of Reformation Forum) and Jeff Weston (World Convention of Churches of Christ).