Rememberhistory repeats itself. If this merger attempt succeeds, time will come that the church will split again just because certain church leaders are around to please others instead of God. Yeah, right, unity with the Christian Church on their terms?</font>
- <table width="93%" border="0"><tr><td valign="top" width="100%">
<table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tr><td width="100%" bgcolor="#ffffff">
<font class="option" style="font-size: 15pt">News - Instrumental, a cappella church leaders exchange Bibles in show of acceptance</font></td></tr>
<tr><td colspan="2" bgcolor="#ffffff">
<table border="0" width="98%" align="center"><tr><td>
<font class="option" style="font-size: 10pt">By Bobby Ross Jr.
The Christian Chronicle
LOUISVILLE, KY. In an emotional display of love and acceptance, several prominent leaders of a cappella Churches of Christ and instrumental Christian Churches exchanged personal Bibles at the North American Christian Convention on Thursday night.
Keynote speaker Jeff Walling, pulpit minister of the Providence Road Church of Christ in Charlotte, N.C., challenged the roughly 7,000 people who packed the Kentucky International Convention Center to go home and do the same.
Are you willing to go home and shape the future of our brotherhood for our children by reaching out because of grace to say, I love you in the name of Jesus Christ, brother? Walling asked the crowd. And if somebody says, Well, hes a brother in error, you tell him, Do we have any other kind?
We are all in error, Walling added. Thats why we come every Sunday to say, God, forgive us.
Almost everyone in the audience which convention organizers said included as many as 1,000 members of a cappella congregations stood and accepted the challenge.
The dramatic exchange of Bibles capped the third, and final, night of the North American Christian Convention, an annual meeting of instrumental Christian Churches.
With the theme Together in Christ, the convention has focused this week on fostering better relations between the instrumental and a cappella fellowships after a century of division. 2006 marks the 100th anniversary of a 1906 federal census that first reported the two Restoration Movement groups as separate bodies.
Today, the a cappella churches report about 1.3 million baptized members in the U.S., slightly more than the instrumental churches 1.2 million. Both groups believe that Jesus is Lord, baptize for remission of sins and offer the Lords Supper each Sunday. But instrumental music remains a deeply divisive topic, as some members of Churches of Christ consider it a salvation issue.
Thursday nights session mixed instrumental and a cappella hymns as praise teams from the Richland Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, Texas, and the Southside Christian Church in Orlando, Fla, performed together.
Keith Lancaster from the group Acappella led a non-instrumental rendition of Awesome God, followed by both praise teams singing a modern-day Rock of Ages, accompanied by a piano, drums, electric guitars, a trombone, a trumpet and tambourines.
In a message titled Together in Gods Grace, Walling said that he, too, once believed that a cappella singing was the only way to worship. But he said God helped him grow to understand that grace, not perfect doctrine, saves Christians. Members of both fellowships have suffered, he said, from weve got it right disease and legalism deep in our veins.
Walling recalled that his mother always taught him to be nice to strangers. So, for years, thats what Ive done with folks in the independent Christian Churches, he joked.
But he declared, The time for being nice is over. Its time to be family. Nice is easy. Family is a mess. Family is loving and sacrificing. Family is trying to compromise without being compromised.
Walling presented his worn personal Bible which his 89-year-old mother, Mildred, gave him in memory of his deceased earthly father, T.J. Walling to Dave Stone, minister of the Southeast Christian Church in Louisville and Wednesday nights keynote speaker.
I want to tell you tonight, you are my brother, Walling, wiping tears from his eyes, said to Stone.
Stone handed Walling his own Bible and told him, The great thing about these Bibles is that they are exactly the same. They are the same translation. They are Gods word.
Among a cappella church members who participated in the Bible exchange were ministers Marvin Phillips and Jerry Taylor as well as Abilene Christian University President Royce Money and Rochester College President Mike Westerfield.
Also exchanging Bibles were the praise teams from the Richland Hills Church of Christ and the Southside Christian Church.
Dave Faust, president of the North American Christian Convention, said he hopes the gesture will be repeated by members of both fellowships across the nation.
This is a gesture of friendship and kinship, a way of saying, Im trying the best I can to teach Gods word with all my heart and I know thats what youre trying to do, too, Faust told The Christian Chronicle. I just think itll be something that could be replicated in local communities one on one no coercion, nobody merging things or trying to force anything on anyone.
COMING IN THE AUGUST PRINT ISSUE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHRONICLE: Complete coverage of the North American Christian Convention and a Dialogue interview with Alan Highers on the instrumental music issue.
Now you know what Jeff Walling really believes. Now you know where Royce Money of Abilene Christian University is trying to lead us. Now you know the inclination of the staff of the Christian Chronicle which is owned and operated by Oklahoma Christian University. Is this what you wish for the church of Christ, of which you are a member? Will you sit silent while this apostasy sweeps over our brotherhood or will you stand up for Jesus and his church?</font>