Vol.I No.XI Pg.6
November 1964

85 Years Ago, "Co-Op" Issue Was History

Robert F. Turner

In 1830 the Mahoning Association-the last vestige of denominational organization among early churches of Christ in this country was dissolved.

From "Life of Elder Benjamin Franklin" (by Franklin & Headington, 1879) we cite the history of the return of intercongregational organizations, leading to the Missionary Society, and the Christian Church denomination.


"It was not very long after the dissolution of Mahoning Association that "Cooperation Meetings" began to be held. These meetings were held on different plans. Sometimes individuals of different churches united, organized with president, sect-treas., raised means by contributions, and employed preachers to go into destitute places. This was called "Individual Cooperation."

Sometimes the meeting was composed of messengers or delegates from several churches who met with one of the churches, in which case it was called "Go-operation of Churches." ++++++

At first these co-operation meetings were composed of counties or of the churches within one or two counties. Afterward they were enlarged to "District Meetings," including several counties, and often corresponding to the Congressional Districts.

In 1835 a meeting for the entire State of Indiana was called and held at Indianapolis, in June. An annual meeting, known as the "state Meeting" was held thereafter at various places, but more frequently at Indianapolis.

It was simply a mass-meeting of such brethren as chose to attend, until 1852, when it was resolved, "that the State Meetings shall, in future, be composed of messengers sent by District Meetings, County Go-operation Meetings, or by individual Christian churches." ++++++++ In 1835 "after mature deliberation, the four churches of God in Cincinnati (Ohio) known commonly as Disciples of Christ, or Christians," organized "The American Christian Bible Society" with annual membership, life membership, and life directorship. The object of this society was declared to be "to aid in the distribution of the Sacred Scriptures, without note or comment, among all nations. It assumed at the outset to be a "parent society," to which others might become auxiliary, by "agreeing to place their surplus funds in the treasury of the parent society." +++++++

The Bible and Tract societies met at the same time and place, and were for some years referred to as "The Anniversaries." In 181r9 a large concourse of people, including many prominent preachers, assembled in Cincinnati, to attend the "Anniversaries." Great enthusiasm prevailed, and by the unanimous approval of all present "The American Christian Missionary Society" was organized. ++++

Public opinion which, upon the death of the Springfield Presbytery and the dissolution of the Mahoning Association, had swung clear of every form and vestige of ecclesiastical organization, except the local conegregation, was now ready to be led into denominational consolidation, and took no alarm when the "Hymn-Book Committee" referred to "the Christian Brotherhood at large, as represented in the American Christian Missionary Society."

(From pages 239, 240, 242, 244, 250.)


Think of it! Eighty-five years ago a history was written of digression in the church, brought about by the effort to serve God thru organizations and associations larger than a local church. Will we never learn??