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      Our History 

North Royalton Christian Church was founded in the fall of 1829 following a series of nightly preaching services conducted by William Hayden, a well-known frontier evangelist of the day.  This congregation is the oldest Disciples of Christ church in Cuyahoga County and is one of the oldest in the state of Ohio.

 

With no permanent meeting house and no preacher except for the early Disciples itinerant evangelists who traveled throughout the Western Reserve , the church depended on its elders to assume responsibility for keeping the congregation together.  William Hayden and his brother, Amasa Stone Hayden, president of Hiram College in the mid-1880s, visited the new church often.  Alexander Campbell, theologian, statesman, founder of Bethany College , and foremost leader of the Disciples of Christ denomination preached here in 1838 and on several other occasions.  James A Garfield, 20th president of the United States and former student and president of Hiram College , preached here while a student at the college (around 1852).

 

The first permanent building was erected on the hilltop at the Royalton Cemetery in the late 1850s.   A larger building was erected on the same site in1895, and it was this building that became known as “the church on the hill.” The present 7-acre site was purchased in 1960.  Ground-breaking ceremonies were held on April 29, 1962, and the new building was dedicated on May 12 1963.  On November 13, 1977, a fund-raising drive to raise money for a permanent sanctuary and additional classrooms was launched.  Four nights later, the existing educational wing was destroyed by fire and the rest of the building suffered severe smoke damage.  The fund-raising campaign was quickly revised to include reconstruction of the destroyed educational wing, and on October 14, 1979, the new and current building was dedicated.

 

        The Early History of the Disciples of Christ Denomination

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) grew out of two movements seeking Christian unity that sprang up almost simultaneously in western Pennsylvania and Kentucky - movements that were backlashes against the rigid denominationalism of the early 1800s.  

 

Thomas and Alexander Campbell, a Scottish Presbyterian father and son in Pennsylvania , rebelled against the dogmatic sectarianism that kept members of different denominations - and even factions within the same denomination - from partaking of the Lord's Supper together. Barton W. Stone in Kentucky , also a Presbyterian, objected to the use of creeds as tests of "fellowship" within the church, which were a cause of disunity, especially at the Lord’s table. "Christians," the name adopted by Stone's movement, represented what he felt to be a shedding of denominational labels in favor of a scriptural and inclusive term. Campbell had similar reasons for settling on "Disciples of Christ" but he felt the term "Disciples" less presumptuous than "Christians."

 

The aims and practices of the two groups were similar, and the Campbell and Stone movements united in 1832 after about a quarter of a century of separate development. The founders of the Christian Church hoped to restore Christian unity by returning to New Testament faith and practices. But the church found that even this led to division. One group that opposed practices not specifically authorized by the New Testament, such as instrumental music in the church and organized missionary activity, gradually pulled away. That group finally was listed separately in the 1906 federal religious census as the "Churches of Christ." Another group remained with the Disciples but began a separation in 1926 over what it felt were too liberal policies on the mission field in the practice of baptism. More than 40 years later (1967-69) some 3,000 of those congregations formally withdrew at the time of Disciples restructure. They refer to themselves as the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.

 

       The Four Priorities of the Church

At the 2001 General Assembly,the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) adopted the 2020 Vision, which contained four priorities that will guide the Church through the first two decades of the 21st century. The Four Priorities are:

            Becoming a Pro-reconciling/Anti-racist church

Formation of 1,000 new congregations by 2020

Transformation of 1,000 current congregations by 2020

Leadership development necessary to realize these new and renewed    congregations

 

       What does the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) believe?

• The Bible is a guide for Christian living and faith and truly reveals God’s purpose in the world. The witness of early Disciples was “where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.” It was out of the commitment to the concept of restoring the unity of the church, based on the New Testament, that many traditional beliefs and practices took shape and continue to be a part of our identity as a church today, including weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper, baptism of believers by immersion; and the right of self-government by congregations.  

 

• Doctrines and human differences should not be allowed to divide believers from each other. God is revealed in many ways, mainly through Jesus. There are no set beliefs about God—all experience the deity differently. There is a unity of all Christians in the love of Christ.  

 

• There is an Inclusive Ministry in the life and work of the church. All members are “ministers“ and are entitled to interpret the Scriptures and perform church functions.

 

• Baptism is for individuals mature enough to make their own decisions. Just as the baptism represents the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it symbolizes the death and burial of the old self, and the joyous birth of a brand new being in Christ. Those who founded the Disciples movement taught baptism by immersion as the accepted form. Baptism, as a gift of grace, received by faith, expresses its meaning in a variety of images: new birth; a washing with water; a cleansing from sin; a sign of God’s forgiving grace; the power of new life now and the pledge of life in the age to come. The meaning of baptism is grounded in God’s redemptive action in Christ, it incorporates the believer in the community in the body of Christ, and it anticipates life in the coming age when the powers of the old world will be overcome, and the purposes of God will triumph.  

 

• The Lord’s Supper is the heart of our worship. It is celebrated in remembrance of Christ and His life on earth; it draws the congregation closer together; it is an act of thanksgiving for the forgiveness of our sins and the renewal of our life; and it is a rededication to Christ’s way. The Lord's Supper or Communion is celebrated in weekly worship. It is open to all who are followers of Jesus Christ. The practice of Holy Communion has become the central element of worship within the Disciples tradition. Disciples' observance of the Lord's Supper emanates from the upper room, where Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the living Christ is met and received in the sharing of the bread and the cup, representative of the body and blood of Jesus. The presence of the living Lord is affirmed and he is proclaimed to be the dominant power in our lives.

 

Membership in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) means freedom and diversity

 • In Worship–Prayer and devotion are a Christian’s greatest source of strength. We have no set doctrines or uniform rules. Each person can find the methods that suit him/her the best. • In Service –God has given each of us unique gifts and talents. The church offers many and varied opportunities to put them to use. • In Fellowship–Church members join together in many ways, sharing each other’s joys and sorrows and helping each other follow Christ’s way in our daily lives.

 

        The Mission of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ):

To be and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, witnessing, loving and serving from our doorsteps “to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)    

 

The Vision of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): To be a faithful growing church, that demonstrates true community, deep Christian spirituality and a passion for justice. (Micah 6:8)