The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) grew out of two movements seeking Christian unity that sprang up almost simultaneously in western Pennsylvania and Kentucky – movements that were backlashes against the rigid denominationalism of the early 1800s.
Thomas and Alexander Campbell, a Scottish Presbyterian father and son in Pennsylvania, rebelled against the dogmatic sectarianism that kept members of different denominations – and even factions within the same denomination – from partaking of the Lord’s Supper together.
Barton W. Stone in Kentucky, also a Presbyterian, objected to the use of creeds as tests of “fellowship” within the church, which were a cause of disunity, especially at the Lord’s table.
“Christians,” the name adopted by Stone’s movement, represented what he felt to be a shedding of denominational labels in favor of a scriptural and inclusive term. Campbell had similar reasons for settling on “Disciples of Christ” but he felt the term “Disciples” less presumptuous than “Christians.”
The aims and practices of the two groups were similar, and the Campbell and Stone movements united in 1832 after about a quarter of a century of separate development.