By Rev. Dr. Glenn Thomas Carson, Disciples of Christ Historical Society and Brad Lyons, Chalice Press
It took 15 years, but we finally had it done. In 2004 The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement was published and the scholarly community was very pleased. And we thought that would be about it.
We were so very wrong.
Instead, what we found is that people from all walks of life – and all around the world – were buying this gigantic book. What’s more, they weren’t using it like an encyclopedia. You know how that works: get encyclopedia, place on shelf, and forget about it. Rather, they were reading it cover-to-cover like the latest bestseller. We were amazed and thrilled at the same time. It wasn’t long before discussions began about a long dreamed of follow-up: a global history of all the Stone-Campbell churches.
That global history will be available early next year. The Stone-Campbell Movement: A Global History will become the foundational resource for historians, researchers, ministers, followers, students, and others craving knowledge about the Stone-Campbell Movement that led to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Churches of Christ, the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ and other related strands of the movement.
When the idea of a global history was suggested to our three editors, they weren’t entirely convinced. Newell Williams, Doug Foster, and Paul Blowers had just finished a journey that took 15 years and were not eager to return to the trail without good reason. However, once we assured them that adequate support was available, they eagerly jumped back in.
Since we would all be attending the 2005 American Academy of Religion meeting in Philadelphia, we decided to gather and determine whether to go forward. Present were Russ White (then-president of Chalice Press), Glenn Carson (Disciples History), and three editors, one from each stream of our Stone-Campbell tradition: Blowers (Christian Churches/Churches of Christ); Foster (Churches of Christ); and Williams (Christian Church – Disciples of Christ). In short order, we agreed on a working model for the project, which after a few revisions, we took to the boards of Chalice Press and the historical society. Each board approved the project as a cooperative venture between the two ministries and work began in earnest in 2006.
A core belief was that the book would not focus on North America, with a little of the rest of the world sprinkled in. It would be truly global, truly telling the global story of our Stone-Campbell heritage spanning over 200 years and more than 100 countries.
Secondly, the editors determined that it should be a work of our very best scholarship, yet accessible and readable by everyone. This was not to be a collection of essays by individuals. To that end, we assembled a writing team of 14 historians, representing all three streams, who worked together as a team to produce a book that speaks in one voice. To make sure the project was smoothly coordinated over several years of work, Scott Seay of Christian Theological Seminary was tapped as managing editor.
While nothing is perfect, we think we have come close to fulfilling everything we planned to do. This global history will be used in classrooms and congregations for years to come and – as you would expect – it tells an exciting story.
The yeomen’s work for pulling everything together fell to Williams, president at Brite Divinity School, and Doug Foster, professor at Abilene Christian University. Over countless hours the two editors met and worked together to insure the final integrity of the book. We are grateful to all the contributors, but need to give special thanks to our two premier historians.
Interested readers don’t have long to wait much longer. The Stone-Campbell Movement: A Global History will be published in March 2013 (print and e-book). Pre-orders can be placed now at a significant discount by visiting www.chalicepress.com. Events at the 2013 General Assembly in Orlando will give history buffs more opportunities to dig into the rich story of the Stone-Campbell Movement. For more information, visit www.discipleshistory.org or www.chalicepress.com
Contributors (Disciples marked with *)
* Carmelo Alvarez
* Lawrence A. Q. Burnley
John Mark Hicks
Loretta Long Hunnicutt
* Timothy Lee
Edward J. Robinson
* Scott Seay
* Mark Toulouse
* D. Newell Williams