Christian Union.The churches forming the denomination called the Christian Union, trace their origin to the great revival which took place in the first half of the nineteenth century, which led to a larger liberty in religious thought, a greater freedom from ecclesiastical domination, and a closer affiliation of the people of different creeds. A number of organizations arose that had no connection, most important among them being the Evangelical Christian Union, which consisted of seven congregations in Monroe county, Ind. These were united in 1857 by Rev. Eli P. Farmer, who went into the army as a chaplain at the outbreak of the Civil war and as a result some of the congregations were broken up. During the war the intensity of the political strife became reflected in the services of the church to such an extent that many persons, both lay and clergy, withdrew from different denominations and joined the ranks of those who were impatient under the restrictions of ecclesiastical rule. Finally a call was issued for a convention to be held by all who favored "forming a new church organization" on broader lines than those of the existing denominations, free from both political bias and ecclesiastical domination.
The convention met at Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 3, 1863, and adopted resolutions by which was formed a religious society under the name of Christian Union. In 1864 a general convention was held at Terre Haute, Ind., attended by delegates from several states, at which the action of the former convention was reaffirmed and a summary of principles was adopted as follows: The oneness of the Church of Christ; Christ the only head; the Bible the only rule of faith and practice; good fruits the only condition of fellowship; Christian Union without controversy; each local church self governing; political preaching discountenanced. From this time the movement spread rapidly, some of its best known leaders being J. F. Given, J. V. B. Flack, and Ira Norris. On his return from the army Eli Farmer joined the movement and remained in active service until his death in 1878.
The local organizations differ somewhat in name, those in the middle west being known as the Christian Union for both local and general organizations. Some of those farther west call the local organization the Church of Christ and the general organization the "Churches of Christ in Christian Union," but while they differ in name the organizations affiliate and recognize one another as parts of the same general movement, while the general council in all the states is known as the General Council of Christian Union. Each local congregation or church is absolutely self governing. For purposes of fellowship and the transaction of business various councils have been organized which meet annually. Of these councils there are four classescharge, district, state and general. The church now has organizations in ten states, the greater majority of them being in Ohio, which has 118 organizations. The church was established in Kansas in the '80s by immigrants from the older communities in the Ohio valley. In 1890 there were 16 organizations in the state: 9 in Bourbon county, 1 in Dickinson, 1 in Doniphan, 4 in Riley and 1 in Wilson, with a total membership of 50. In 1906 the number of organizations had dropped to four while the membership had increased to 99.Pages 343-344 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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