By Mark A. Taylor
It was a week for beautiful harmony and sweet expressions of unity as the North American Christian Convention made history in Louisville, June 27 30.
Between 10,000 and 12,000 different people attended at least some part of the convention. According to several observers, attendance by members of the noninstrumental churches of Christ was at least 1,000.
Preaching at main sessions was equally shared by speakers from Christian churches and churches of Christ. Eli Reyes from Southwest Christian Church, Orlando, Florida, led worship with Ryan Christian, Richland Hills Church of Christ, North Richland Hills, Texas. Worship teams from the two congregations combined to form one.
Some will most remember the beautiful music they led. The hall was filled with the voices of thousands of worshipers who could hear each other sing in full four part harmony. Worship music was a delightful blend of accompanied and unaccompanied singing, from a repertoire of new choruses, old hymns, and familiar worship songs.
Jeff Walling, minister with Providence Road Church of Christ, Charlotte, North Carolina, preached Thursday night, delivering the sermon many will most remember. Blending the styles of a stand up comedian and a revival preacher, Walling regaled the crowd with stories of growing up in an a cappella church of Christ. But he challenged his listeners with Paul’s message of grace. “The Restoration Movement isn’t about restoring the church; it’s about each of us being restored to God!”
He concluded with a gesture of reconciliation, giving his favorite Bible to Dave Stone, who gave him a Bible in return. Then he called on several others to repeat the gesture on the platform, in front of the crowd.
The next morning, in the convention’s final sermon, Rick Atchley, minister at Richland Hills Church of Christ, said, “Let’s wage unity! Let’s no longer be known for what we’re against!”
He reflected on the progress of unity efforts between the two fellowships and said, “We are standing in the midst of a God thing.”
Others at the convention seemed to agree with him. One college president said, “It was the best NACC of my life.”
A church of Christ professor said, “I feel like I’m at a church of Christ conference this week.”
Reports during the week recounted many examples of members from both groups working together to plant churches, build foreign missions, and do benevolence. And convention attendees left with the hope that this year’s convention is only the first step in a long and productive journey.
CHRISTIAN STANDARD will devote its whole September 17 issue to convention coverage. Meanwhile read reactions from our bloggers at www.christianstandard.com.