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MILTON CHRISTIAN CHURCH
(Disciples of Christ)

History

A Brief History

Significant Dates

Origins


A Brief History

Milton Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) dates back to 1834 when Mount Zion Chapel was built on a rock cliff overlooking the Mersey River. Its founding Pastor, William W. Ashley, was a travelling evangelist-missionary who had come from Carolina, married a local girl (Hannah Kempton), and started several churches and chapels in Nova Scotia. He served as pastor of the new congregation until 1840.

"In coming together as a Church of Christ, they declared it to be their full purpose and determination to acknowledge no Leader but Christ; no Infallible Teachers but the Apostles and Prophets, and no Articles of Belief but the Old and New Testaments, and the latter as containing the grounds of their Faith, and the Rules of their behaviour as Christians." (From: the Founder's Document making up pages 1 & 2 of the original record book of the Church as recorded in The Disciples of Christ in Canada Since 1830 by Reuben Butchart p.354)

The congregation grew, and in 1864 construction began on the present day Church Building across the highway from the original chapel. The building was done by carpenters skilled in shipbuilding, and its wood frame construction is topped with a tall steeple which originally included a bell, replaced in recent years by electronic chimes. The elegant hardwood interior of the church was finished by master carpenter and cabinetmaker, Frank Etherington.

One early visitor described the new structure as follows:

"Mirrored in the Mersey, its colonial tower rises over a hundred feet and with tapering point lifts thought upward. Boston shows few churches more beautiful." (Butchart, p. 355)

Over the years, the Milton Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), also known from time to time as Church of Christ (Disciples), has striven to build a New Testament Church in the Disciple tradition. The church has been actively involved in supporting mission work, promoting Christian education for all ages, supporting Area and Regional manifestations of the Disciples movement, and working in ecumenical projects. However, in seeking to follow the outline of the Church as presented in the New Testament, this congregation has struggled with such issues as the use of musical instruments (piano) in worship, acceptance of women as elders and officers, and open membership. (i.e. the practice of accepting members of other churches who have not been baptized by immersion without requiring rebaptism).

The Milton Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) seeks to promote the unity of all Christians by its involvement in ecumenical programs. It was one of the founders and a constant supporter of the Queens County Association of Churches. It has been an active supporter of the World Day of Prayer and is the originator and host of the Privateer's Service, an open air, ecumenical service held in conjunction with the Privateers' Days celebrations in Queens County.

Milton Christian Church has also been instrumental in starting and promoting community service projects such as Milton Kiddies' Corner, a preschool program which is now operated by a committee with broader community representation. The first Food Bank, which is now operated by a committee under the Queens County Association of Churches, began in the Milton Church. The C.W.F. of Milton Christian Church also began the School Breakfast program for children at the Milton elementary school.

 

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Significant Dates

Some significant dates in the history of the Milton Christian Church are:

1834 - Founded and built Mount Zion Chapel.

1840 - Women's Missionary Society organized.

1861 - Earliest record of Sunday School (In a report to area convention)

1864 - Present day Church structure started.

1887 - Milton Church encourages minister, Howard Murray, to hold meetings in Summerville, resulting in the formation of Summerville Christian Church.

1917 - Pipe organ and baptistry installed in Church.

1958 - Christian Men's Fellowship organized.

1959 - Christian Women's Fellowship formed in Milton (replacing Women's Missionary Society.

1965 - Cracked bell removed from the belfry.

1978 - First Women Elders elected.

1980 - First woman Chairperson of Board

1986 - Open membership accepted.

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ORIGINS

CHRISTIAN CHURCH (Disciples of Christ)

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada traces its origins back to the early 1800's when some religious seekers* felt that the differing creeds, customs and habits of the various denominations and sects were not only separating Christians, but often were not scriptural. In an effort to secure for Christ's Church the unity for which He prayed, (John 17:20-23) they felt the need to return to New Testament Scriptures as the sole authority.

Barton W. Stone, a candidate for the Presbyterian ministry in North Carolina, was unable to reconcile the theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith with his study of New Testament Scripture. At graduation he answered concerning the doctrine in the confession "that he could accept it as far as it is consistent with the Word of God". In his preaching, he taught that people were free to accept the gospel when they would. He was charged with heresy against the Calvinistic doctrines and suspended from preaching. He and some co-laborers continued to preach without salaries and founded several new congregations. They chose to call themselves "Christians" and dissolved their denominational ties to enter into unity with "the body of Christ at large." Denouncing all human creeds, they appealed to the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice.

Thomas Campbell, a Presbyterian Minister in the Anti-Burgher Seceder branch, migrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania in 1808 and was followed by his son Alexander Campbell a year later. In the time they were separated each came to feel that that denying communion because one did not adhere to the Presbyterian creeds was wrong. Thomas deplored the divisions which kept followers of Christ in opposite flocks, and invited all to partake of communion without reference to their religious alliances. As a result he became alienated from the Presbyterian Church. In 1808 he and others founded the Christian Association of Washington, Pennsylvania. That group adopted the motto, "Where the scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent." Campbell and others were called "Reformers," for their desire to restore the Church's first century roots. This way of life came to be known as the "Restoration Movement."

After Alexander joined his father, his public speaking skills, writing, and articulation of the place of reason in Christian faith propelled him into the leadership of the "Disciples of Christ", as their followers chose to call themselves.

Over the next two decades their following grew into the thousands, composed of several congregations.

Union In 1832 the "Christians" and the "Disciples", recognizing their similarities and their desire to promote Christian unity, joined together with a formal handshake. Within the union each congregation maintained its independence to select its own leadership, determine how it would worship, and manage its own finances, etc. But within this freedom and diversity, most do share these basic traditions:

Membership - A person is received into membership based on a public confession of belief in Christ as the Son of God, and acceptance of Him as Lord and Savior, followed by baptism by immersion (although many congregations allow members of non-immersion churches to transfer membership upon the confession of faith).

Bible - The only authoritative guide for Christian living and faith. (A common statement: No Creed but the Bible.)

Priesthood of All Believers - All members are "ministers" - entitled to interpret the Scriptures and perform all Church functions. While recognizing the special training of ordained ministers, any member can give leadership in place of an ordained minister.

Two Ordinances - 1)The Lord's Supper (Communion) is celebrated every Sunday and on special occasions. It may be administered by lay people and is open to all Christians of any denomination.
                          - 2)Baptism
as an act by which a believer enters into the church universal. It is for mature individuals who are old enough to make their own decision, and is done by immersion in water, as the New Testament practice, symbolizing Christ's death, burial and resurrection.

Unity of All Christians - Doctrines and human differences should not be allowed to divide believers from each other. Most congregations are active in ecumenical work in their communities.

 

Seekers* Although Thomas and Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone are recognized as the Founders of the Christian the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), it should be recognized that there were others who were also searching for the New Testament truths. In Scotland the teachings of John Glas , and James and Robert Haldane , influenced Alexander Campbell, while Archibald McLean started the Scotch Baptist Church which founded many congregations in Canada which later joined the Campbell-Stone Church. In North America there was James O'Kelly who led followers in Virginia and North Carolina from the Methodist Episcopal Church to form the "Christian Church" in 1792, while in New England Elias Smith and Abner Jones deserted the Congregationalists and Baptists to form the "Christian" church at Lyndon, Vermont, a group which over the next twenty years started several "Christian" Churches throughout New England and Ontario. Many of these later joined with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as well.

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last updated:
05/08/2007 11:53 AM