Our heritage comes from the reformation movement through the American frontier.
In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s many Christian families were heading west into what we now call the Midwest. These Christians were from many different denominational backgrounds. As they settled into their new communities there were often not enough Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodist or Catholics to form a denominational church for each of them. The one local church was often different from their own and would refuse them the right to participate in church life unless they renounced their former church allegiance and claimed a new allegiance to that church and to the various creeds which that church followed. This was particularly difficult at this point in history because many of these denominations were politically tied to European governments. This created problems because America had just declared and won its independence.
These frontier Christians decided to set aside denominational labels, political ties and creeds and to come together as “Christians Only”. Rather than look to European leadership, they established autonomous leadership in the form of local eldership. The early church would be their model, because that was also a church without denominational influence or creeds. The foundations of this movement would be based upon three primary principles:
The Unity of all Christians
The Authority of the Bible
The Love of Christ in His Church
A slogan that helped define how these Christians of various backgrounds could pull this off was: “In matters of faith, we will stand united; in matters of opinion, we will exercise liberty; and in all things we will seek to exemplify the love of Jesus Christ.”
Through the years, the Christian Church has remained a meeting place for Christians of all denominational backgrounds. Today we find this most often reflected in the background of the married couples who attend. He came from one Christian heritage and she came from another. He doesn’t quite fit in at her church and she doesn’t fit in at his, but here they can find a place where they are both welcomed and accepted as “Christians Only”.