Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 24, 1968
NUMBER 25, PAGE 7b-8a

What Is Happening Is Happening

Wayne Earnest

I had the opportunity of hearing the last night of the debate at Pocahontas, Arkansas on the sponsoring- church arrangement. As I read my newspaper the next morning, September 14, 1968, I could not help but think of an argument made by Boyd Morgan the previous night, as he tried to show that a local church does not lose its autonomy under the sponsoring-church arrangement. For in the Saturday Morning edition of The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee was an article that revealed what is taking place in the thinking of those that compose the Christian Churches concerning the autonomy of local churches.

The gist of Boyd Morgan's argument was that he heard brethren sound a warning 15 years ago, in which they proclaimed that the local churches would lose their autonomy under such sponsoring-church arrangements. He said, fifteen years have gone by and he has yet to see a local church lose its autonomy under such arrangements, yet some preachers such as Eugene Britnell, were still warning against the "trend" and thought that they saw the autonomy of local congregations being lost, and a hierarchy being developed. Note the following excerpts from the article.

"The Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ), whose congregations carefully preserve their independence, will in effect vote on whether to become a denomination instead of simply a convention of churches later this month in Kansas City, Mo." "About 10,000 delegates are expected at Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium for the 119th international convention assembly Sept. 27."

"Under the reorganization, the convention president would be moderator of the church and the executive secretary the general minister and president. — "Autonomy would continue at the congregational, regional and international level, each with specific authority." The article went on to say, "Although there has been some vocal opposition, the plan has been approved by all 40 of the self governing state and area groupings, which would become regional units of the church and by 14 of the 15 national agencies, which now are members organizations of the convention but which would become subordinate to the assembly." (All emphasis mine. W. E.)

Let us now make some observations. Note the reality of the situation. The approval is there already, only the official "vote" on September 27 remains for the Christian Churches to be declared by themselves to be a "denomination." They now speak of "regional" and "international" autonomy and describe their own hierarchy. Many years ago, they were saying, "We see no danger in losing our autonomy." And now in view of their own candid admissions, as to becoming a denomination, and restructuring Christian Church government so that "the executive secretary will be the general minister and president," they, like many of our own brethren, still see no danger of the local church losing its autonomy. T. O. Slaughter, minister of the Decatur Street Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee is quoted in the article saying that he "expects the change to have little effect on local churches," and that "he does not fear that the new setup would lead to creation of an all-powerful national organization." Arnett L. Winn of the Kingsway Christian Church at 6310 Poplar, Memphis, Tennessee said, "his congregation was never overly concerned that it might lose its autonomy, but did investigate before approving the plan."

Yes, Brethren, What Is Happening Is Happening.

— 306 West Main, Newbern, Tennessee