This is a regular monthly column that will cover historical issues of interest to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The columns are provided by the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. The latest issue will be shown on this page and links to all of the back issues of this column can be found at the bottom of this page.
Our Upper Room
The house in the woods outside of Washington, PA is still there. Actually, it is fairly ordinary and does not look like the place from which a movement was launched.
There is an upper room in the house. In fact, it would not be stretching things too much to call it an attic room. Two hundred years ago, living in that little upper room by himself, and still waiting for his family to come to America, Thomas Campbell searched the scriptures. He studied and he thought and he pondered. And he wrote.
We're not sure if he chose to write by the morning light filtering through his window, or if, instead, he was crouched close to a flickering candle deep into the night. We are sure that he spent hour after hour in his upper room writing what would become the clearest statement that anyone had made in a long time concerning the unity of Christians. Campbell's "Declaration and Address" was a plea for Christians to set aside partisanship and sectarianism. It described his heart's yearning for a life filled with a renewed faith that would un-do centuries of division.
Everything he said (and he had much to say) circled around a central theme. And it was this: "The Church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one." In 1809, two hundred years ago this year, cloistered in his upper room, Thomas Campbell in one sentence gave us a truly wonderful idea. And in that giving, his upper room became our upper room.
This year we have the opportunity to capture the ideal of our upper room once again. If as Campbell said, and as we have said we believe, the unity of faithful persons is the true hallmark of discipleship, then it is incumbent upon us to celebrate this great bicentennial moment. Campbell's "Declaration and Address" capped a decade of the Spirit's movement through the newly formed United States. The revival that began at Cane Ridge in Kentucky spread in every direction of the compass. And by 1809, with just two years in America under his belt, Campbell was able to state succinctly the inspiring message of a new movement: We are One. That is a bicentennial worth celebrating.
We are calling upon all congregations of the Stone-Campbell movement to celebrate two hundred years of unity on World Communion Sunday, October 4, 2009. All of the educational, historical, and liturgical material needed for the celebration can be found at a special bicentennial website http://www.greatcommunion.org/. Visit the site today and then send the link to everyone you know.
Who knows? We might just ignite the unity movement we've always dreamed about. It was Campbell's dream, too. And it all started in our very own upper room.
By Glenn Thomas Carson
Disciples of Christ Historical Society
This article was provided by the Disciples of Christ Historical Society and used here by permission.
To learn more about your faith story, please visit the Disciples of Christ Historical Society's website at: www.discipleshistory.org
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