Great Communion in Greater Pittsburgh

By Mark A. Taylor

Christians across the country are planning community observances of the 200th anniversary of the Declaration and Address October 4. They will include unity Lord’s Supper services under the banner of “Great Communion,” the nationwide promotion of the anniversary.

One of the most significant celebrations may happen in Pittsburgh.

“When we first started our planning, we contracted with a local high school,” said Ed Gratton, one of the ministers at Norwin Christian Church in the Pittsburgh suburb of North Huntingdon. The school auditorium seats 1,000, “but from the response to our idea, we decided we’d better look for something bigger,” he added.

The Pittsburgh celebration will be at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall on Fifth Avenue in the center of the city. “It holds about 2,500 people,” Gratton said. “From everything we’ve seen so far, we’re pretty excited about maxing out the place.”

The 5:00 p.m. program is billed as “an introduction to the Restoration Movement for some, a reacquaintance with the Restoration Movement for others, and a celebration of our Restoration Movement for all.” Gratton said attendees will come from a 75-mile radius of the city, including members of congregations within all three “streams” of the Restoration Movement.

The program will include Marshall Leggett portraying Thomas Campbell, explaining his purposes for writing the Declaration and Address. Victor Knowles will give an overview of what’s happening today in the Restoration Movement. Bob Russell will speak on “Recognizing Our Independence: Realizing Our Interdependence.” And Marvin Phillips will round out the program with a challenge to share the message of our movement with others.

The program will be highlighted by a celebration of the Lord’s Supper, led by leaders from area churches.

Gratton said the budget for the event is still being written, but the Norwin congregation has led the way by paying for the rental of Memorial Hall.

Congratulations to Gratton and Terry Erwin, ministers at Norwin Christian, for spearheading this celebration. We’re eager to tell the news of other Great Communion events October 4.

As we explained in our October 5, 2008, issue, the Great Communion idea is simple: Gather as many from the Restoration heritage as possible for a combined Communion service in your area to celebrate the Lord’s sacrifice, remember the creation of the Declaration and Address, and proclaim the vision of unity that is the catalyst for the Restoration Movement.

Find ideas for planning, promoting, and conducting the celebration in your community at Then be sure to send a note to CHRISTIAN STANDARD so we can share the details of your Great Communion observance.


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