Christians (Christian Connection).Following the war of the Revolution there was a period of general spiritual declension. This in turn was followed by a period of revival especially in the southwestern sections of the country. In many cases denominational lines were ignored and different churches united both in evangelistic and sacramental services. Efforts were made to enforce ecclesiastical discipline, which resulted in revolt in some cases, while in others independent movements were started. The pioneer of this movement was James O'Kelly, a Methodist minister in Virginia, who with some associates withdrew from the church and perfected an independent organization under the name of Republican Methodists but in 1794 resolved to become known as Christians only, taking the Bible as their guide and discipline and accepting no test of church fellowship other than that of Christian character. A little later a similar movement took place among the Baptists in New England, headed by Abner Jones, a Baptist preacher of Vermont. He was soon joined by many others and the movement grew.
In 1800 a great revival took place in the Cumberland valley of Tennessee and Kentucky. It was confined to no denomination and no attention was given to the doctrines that divided the churches. In the Presbyterian churches this was regarded with concern and resulted in charges being preferred against two ministers, who with three others, withdrew from the synod of Kentucky and formed the Springfield presbytery, which was dissolved within a short time and its members adopted practically the same position as O'Kelly and Jones. General meetings were held in New England in 1809 but it was not until 1819 that the first general conference was held in New Hampshire. The Southern Christian association was formed in 1847 which soon gave place to the Southern Christian convention, which remained a separate organization until 1890, when the delegates from the south resumed their seats in the convention. The Northern Christian connection was incorporated in 1872.
The Christians hold to the general principles of the Christian faith, insisting that the name Christian is the only one needed. They uphold the right of private judgment and liberty of conscience. They teach baptism of believers by immersion but admit all believers to communion. The general policy of the church is congregational and each local church is independent in its organization but at an early period conferences were organized which admitted ministers to membership and in which the churches were represented by delegates. At first, these conferences were advisory only, but developed into administrative bodies. They have the oversight of the ministry, but do not interfere with the discipline of the churches. Besides the local conferences there are state conferences for administrative work. Nearly all the bodies are incorporated and hold property.
The church has become well established in the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi and it was settlers from these regions who planted the faith in Kansas where it has had a steady growth. In 1890 there were 49 church organizations in the state with a total membership of 1,445. During the decade and a half from 1890 to 1906 there was a slight decline, for in the latter year there were but 26 organizations reported with a membership of 1,034.Pages 342-343 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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