Here is a sampling of reports from Great Communion events from around the world. Great Communion was Oct. 4 and commemorated the 200th anniversary of publication of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address, a foundational document for the Restoration Movement and the “three streams” of churches that have resulted: Christian churches and churches of Christ, nondenominational (or a cappella) churches of Christ, and the Disciples of Christ (Christian).
The official Web site for the event—www.greatcommunion.org—received visits from 87 countries during the past year!
· A Great Communion service was conducted in Louisville, KY, on Sunday, Oct. 18. The congregations involved where Third Central United Christian Church and Hill Street Christian Church (both of them Disciple of Christ), and New Hope and North 35th Christian Church, and possibly individuals from a cappella Churches of Christ. The well-attended, inclusive service ended with the taking of Communion. (Submitted by Rick Hunter.)
· The Igreja de Cristo in Urucará, Amazonas, Brazil (established by Clint and Phyllis Thomas in 1965, the first Restoration Movement congregation in Amazonas) welcomed the Igreja de Cristo (da Missão) de Urucará, (Urucará, Amazonas) at 8 a.m. October 4 for a combined service for the Great Communion. Timothy Thomas presented a summary of the Restoration Movement and shared the importance of the Declaration and Address; he also read most of the 13 propositions in Portuguese. There were 42 present. Elder Teodomiro Sicsú is legal representative for the Igreja de Cristo and Pastor Valmir is the minister for the Igreja de Cristo (da Missão) de Urucará (established 1999). (Submitted by Timothy Thomas)
· Two congregations of the Restoration Movement heritage from the north coast of Oregon met for the Great Communion on October 4. This was the first time in a number of years that the congregations had met together. The theme text was John 17, Jesus’ high priestly prayer. We celebrated the publishing of the Declaration and Address, and focused on unity for the sake of mission. We took an offering that was given to help meet housing needs on the north coast. (Submitted by Frank Loyd of Astoria [Oregon] Christian Church.)
· Abilene (TX) Christian University provided live online streaming of their Sunday afternoon event, allowing those without access to a local service to participate in this historic occasion via video.
· The Nashville, TN, gathering at West End Church of Christ included representatives from Otter Creek Church of Christ, Woodmont Hills Church of Christ, Vine Street Christian Church, Woodmont Christian Church, the World Convention, and the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. Scripture was read in Spanish and English, prayers for the bread were offered in German and English, and prayers for the cup in Chinese and English. A Unity Choir sang and a group from the Congolese Disciples Church gave musical offerings in French and Lingala. Members of the Nashville group plan to host an annual gathering for joint Communion as a continuation of their Great Communion experience. They will hold the first “Communionity” in October 2010.
· In Pittsburgh, PA, where a Great Communion service was held in October 1909 to mark the 100th anniversary of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address, Bob Russell, Victor Knowles, Marshall Leggett (as Campbell), and others presented a service at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall. A 48-page memorial booklet included an article by Ralph Kinney Bennett on Thomas Campbell and the Declaration and Address; Bennett is retired from his position as Washington Bureau editor of Reader’s Digest.
· First Christian Church (Torrance, CA) hosted a service featuring prayers, readings, and music by members from several other Restoration Movement churches, including the Fuente de Vida Christian Church in Gardena, CA.
· Canada celebrated as well! Alberta Bible College hosted an evening of “Music and Memory” at its campus in Calgary. Speakers from Bow Valley Christian Church, Oak Park Church of Christ, Calgary Church of Christ, and Rosscarrock Church of Christ shared “perspectives on the cross.” Ron Fraser, ABC’s president, writes that this was the second of two events planned in Western Canada to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Declaration and Address; the first was a lectureship in April at the college.
· Kenya celebrated, too, as 600 adults (and many children) attended a service at New Life Christian Church in Nairobi. Martin Phiri writes, “After the meeting, many brothers approached me and some of our church ministers to share their joy. Some [even] extended invitations for us to visit their regions for the same kind of gathering.”
· Australian churches also participated! Bruce Greig of Ringwood Church of Christ in Victoria shared news of several churches hosting services. He wrote, “We had some good feedback from a number who knew nothing about our heritage. About 75 percent of our members would be from other denominations or new Christians. We [also] have a Burmese group who use our buildings Sunday afternoon and other times. . . . They have a close relationship with [the] Church of Christ in the Chin Province in Burma who sent greetings to us for the Great Communion.”
Mark Riessen, minister at Blackwood Church of Christ in the southern part of Australia, writes that more than 300 people attended the service at Mile End Church of Christ in Adelaide. Riessen and his team interviewed BJ Mpofu, president of the World Convention, and broadcast his greeting. The team also used Skype to communicate with a ministry leader serving in the Middle East and with the Darwin Church of Christ, which remained online to participate in the rest of the service.
“October the 4th was an amazing event for us in Adelaide, with a rich mixture of history and new technology that brought us together across space and time,” Riessen writes. “We were connected with our past and connected with each other even though [we were] in various locations. More importantly we remain connected with Christ, our guide and hope for a promising future.”
· First Christian Church, College Heights Christian Church and Mount Hope Church of Christ worked together to help Ozark Christian College (Joplin, MO) host its event. The three churches loaned their Communion tables for the service and Randy Gariss, preaching minister at College Heights, brought the message.
· Aspen Grove Christian Church (Franklin, TN) used special olive wood cups for the Communion and encouraged participants to keep the cups as a remembrance of the event. Age-appropriate lessons on the meaning of Communion were given in children’s church beginning with the 2- and 3-year-old class. Each child was also given one of the olive wood cups as a reminder of Jesus’ love. Aspen Grove says it was the first lesson on Communion for several of the children and they responded wonderfully!
· Milligan (TN) College held a service in Seeger Chapel on its campus. Gary Holloway, professor of Bible and the associate director of the Center for Spiritual Renewal at Lipscomb University (Nashville, TN), shared the message.
· University Church of Christ, on the campus of Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA), held a service on Sunday afternoon. The school created a blog and used Twitter to spread the word about their Great Communion event.
· More than 175 people attended the service at Boise (ID) Bible College, and the school reports other gatherings in Caldwell, ID, and Roy, UT. “Many prayers were answered that night,” writes Assistant Director of Development Mark Stevens. “The general consensus is that we want to do it again . . . even as early as this spring! We’re hoping to keep the spirit of community alive and spreading amongst our local bodies.”
· In Bethany, WV, the Alexander Campbell mansion was open for tours while in nearby Washington, PA, churches offered “frontier-style worship” with a covered seating area and activities for children.
· Tom Russell, a member at Western Oaks Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oklahoma City, OK, coordinated a Habitat for Humanity build with members from all three streams of the movement. The volunteers took Communion together before beginning the “Unity Build.”
· Burnettsville (IN) Christian Church combined the Great Communion with a celebration of its own 100-year anniversary at its current location.
· Mountain Christian Church (Joppa, MD) hosted a Celebration of Unity with Peter Morgan, former president of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. Leaders and members from a variety of other churches spoke and led noninstrumental musical worship.
· Valley Christian Church (Rosemount, MN) hosted a statewide unity celebration with the theme “So That They May Know!”
To add your brief report to those listed here, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For reports of more celebrations, visit www.greatcommunion.org.
Click here to read a feature article in Disciples World magazine.