Our History

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a protestant denomination of nearly a million members in the United States and Canada. It’s one of the largest faith groups founded on American soil.

Some key dates in the church’s development:

1804-Presbyterian minister Barton W. Stone and several followers broke their denominational ties to enter into unity with “the body of Christ at large.” They called themselves, simply, “Christians.”

alexcamp1811-A group led by Presbyterian minister Thomas Campbell and his
son, Alexander, pictured at right, began meeting independently of Stone, saying the church of Jesus Christ was one, open to all. Thomas Campbell’s passion for Christian unity is summed up in his proclamation that :

“The church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one.”

1820-Alexander Campbell began public debates which, along with his writing, propelled him into leadership of the “Disciples of Christ.”

1832-The “Christians” and the “Disciples of Christ” agreed on basic beliefs and aims and joined together with a formal handshake in Lexington, Kentucky, and created a new Christian movement on the American frontier.

1832-1968-The “Christians” and the “Disciples of Christ” functioned and grew as a “movement,” often referred to as the “Stone-Campbell movement.” During this period, Disciples often described the relationship of the Christians and the Disciples of Christ as a “brotherhood.” In 1960, the Commission on Brotherhood Restructure started the task of designing a new form of organization. Ed. note: Listing the host of historical developments during this period would move this page beyond a “sketch.” We hope to offer more detailed historical resources as this web site grows.

1968-A representative assembly meeting in Kansas City overwhelmingly approved the Provisional Design for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Church historian D. Duane Cummins writes: “Approval of the Provisional Design marked the passage of the Disciples into denominational maturity. Officially named the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), they became a church.