History of the Restoration Movement

Movements Independent Of The

Campbell/Stone Movements



A. Generally today the Campbell/Stone Movements are credited with starting the restoration movement - Not So!

B. Others predate these men and their movements in going back to the Bible to establish N.T. Christianity.

C. Others were independent of these men after their work began and spread.

D. When this country was new men came to find their relationship with God. A number found that simple New Testament Christianity was all that was necessary.


I. A New England Movement

A. The works of James O’Kelley, Elias Smith & Abner Jones, & John Wright

1. In the later part of the 1790’s - 1800 in New England they pulled away from denominationalism.

2. This was about 9 years before Alexander Campbell came to America.

B. Elias Smith

1. Broke from the Baptists in New England

2. In 1789 he was immersed as a Baptist.

3. He leaned to the doctrine that all in the world would be saved - Universalism.

a. When Jesus died on the cross, it didn’t affect man’s salvation.

b. God was going to save everyone anyway.

4. He battled with this doctrine for 20 years before giving it up.

5. He made an effort, however, to establish N.T. Christianity.

6. His Journal

a. Began in 1808

b. Called “The Herald of Gospel Liberty

c. Later changed to “The Gospel Proclamation

d. It was the first gospel teaching paper published in the new world.

e. The only religious paper of any kind preceding it was a missionary paper produced in Scotland by the Haldane brothers in the 1790’s.

f. In it he taught people how to be Christians.

g. He taught how to stay faithful, similar to some of our modern day Church papers, G.A., The World Evangelist, Firm Foundation, etc.

7. In 1810 he started a church at Woodstock, Vermont.

8. In 1816 he began battling with the Universalism doctrine.

a. Said, if God is going to save everyone, then what’s the use in teaching.

b. He quit preaching & sold his paper & went home.

9. About 1818 there was a resurgence of this battle with Universalism resulting with a total abandonment of it by 1826 - then began teaching the gospel.

10. He didn’t know Campbell or Stone or of them.

C.  Abner Jones

1.  Born April 28, 1772 in Royalton, MA.
2.  Family moved to Vermont when he was eight.
3.  School teacher in Granville, NY.
4.  Spring of 1793, converted & immersed to Baptist denomination by Elisha Ransom.
5.  Jones began to study his scriptures, then began to teach occasionally.
6.  After thorough examination of Calvin’s teachings, Jones rejected same – led to conflict between himself and his fellow Baptists.  Jones became more determined than ever.
7.   A revival took place circa 1797-98, this impassioned Jones even more, he began preaching full-time (leaving the practice of medicine).
8.   Established efforts to return to the New Testament in Vermont in 1801, organizing a “free congregation” in Lyndon, VT, rejecting human names and insisting on using solely the name “Christian.”
9.   In 1802, organized congregations at Hanover, and Piermont New Hampshire.
10.  From this point, his work connects with that of Elias Smith in the establishment of these “free” congregations in New England.

D. James O’Kelley

1. He was a follower of Wesleyism - or Methodism.

2. On Dec. 25, 1784 John Wesley sent a letter to the American churches giving them their independence from the England churches and direction.

3. With it however was an appointment of Francis Asbury as head of the American Methodist Church.

4. A little about Francis Asbury.

a. His methods were harsh, and most difficult to follow.

b. “It was his way or no way!”

c. Took control over the “Circuit Riders.” - Methodist circuit preachers.

1) Told them where they could and could not preach.

2) Scheduled them the way he wanted.

3) O’Kelley put forth legislation so if a preacher was assigned to somewhere he didn’t want to go he could apply for another place. It was wholly rejected.

5. James O’Kelley’s Response.

a. He didn’t like the idea of a man being set over the churches.

b. He didn’t like Asbury’s tactics.

1) Thought a circuit rider ought to be able to go where he wants.

c. He broke ties with the Conference.

1) On Dec. 25th, 1792 he proposed that circuit riders assigned by Bishop Asbury to circuits could appeal to the conference for a different circuit.

2) He proposed that the Bible be taken as final authority in doctrinal issues.

3) All fell on deaf ears resulting his departure from the conference with about ½ of those in attendance.

6. O’Kelly and his followers kept the Methodist name for another 5 or 6 years calling themselves, “The Republican Methodists”

a. “Republican” meant “freedom”

b. They were free to pursue Bible truths.

7. August 4, 1794 - Rice Haggard, another preacher in the area, attended a conference at “Old Lebanon,”  in Surry County, Va. There he suggested they get rid of the denominational name and be called simply, “Christians.” - Back to the Bible.

a. With it the establishment of the first “Christian” church in America near Flavana, Virginia.

b. This marked the coming together of three groups into Christian unity: The Smiths, O’Kelleys & Jones.

c. Later, in 1804, this same Rice Haggard would move to Kentucky and suggest the same thing to another man there, Barton Stone. Some accounts say that O’Kelley was with Haggard.

8. James O’Kelly’s Theology.

a. Very Close to N.T. Christianity.

1) Lord’s Supper on the 1st day of the week.

2) Collection - Free-will offering.

3) Singing, Preaching, Praying, admonishing the saints.

b. Failed at baptism.

1) Didn’t believe immersion was necessary.

2) Sprinkling was all that was necessary.

3) He was never immersed.

c. In 1789 he wrote Essays On Negro Slavery, which was one of the earliest anti-slavery tracts written by a clergyman.

9. Historical Development

a. In 1856 the Christian Churches formed the Southern Christian Convention.

b. In 1931 it merged with the Congregational Church to form the Congregational Christian Church.

c. In 1957 the denomination merged with the Evangelical and Reformed Church to establish the United Church of Christ


II. AN Indiana Movement around 1800.

A. Under the leadership of John Wright.

B. He was a member of the German Baptist Group

1. Known as the “dunkers”

2. They “dunked” people, “immersed.” A German word for “immersion.”

3. Like “Dunkin’ Donuts”


C. Theology

1. Began comparing Baptist doctrine to other Baptists, saw inconsistency.

2. Searched the Scriptures for comparison, found all Baptists differed from truth.

3. Came to feel that Lord’s Supper should be taken on 1st day of every week.

a. Different from what Baptists were doing.

4. Thought baptism was essential to eternal salvation, but early on “not necessarily for remission of sins.”

a. Note: He later learned otherwise.

b. This still was contradictory to Baptist doctrine.

D. His Actions.

1. He ended up taking 16 congregations away from Baptists, near Salem, Indiana.

2. Called the new groups Churches of Christ.

E. He had never heard of Campbell or Stone.

1. Showing that one can obey God by obeying the Bible - Romans 10:17

2. Importance of study is fundamental - 2 Tim. 3:16




III. A Georgia Movement - around 1819

A. Two men, Sheldon C. Dunning (1780 – 1858) and Christian Hermân Dasher (1789-1866) were responsible for churches in Savannah and later Valdosta in early 19th century.

B. A group of Salzburger Lutherans living about 30 miles north of Savannah.

D. Theology

1. Came from a Lutheran background.

2. Began comparing Lutheranism to Scripture, found problems.

3. Began looking for someone who would baptized, whereas Lutherans sprinkled.

a. Hear from a friend, Mrs. Sarah Threadcraft of a man in Savannah who was baptizing he went to him.

b. His Lutheran preacher wouldn’t do it.

E. About 1825, Dasher, and a group of 30 or more persons moved from Ebenezer about 150 miles west to the wire-grass area of Lowndes County - still meeting today, the Central Church of Christ is the oldest in Lowndes County, there in Valdosta.

F. This was independent of the Campbell/Stone Movement.


IV. The Rock Creek, Colbert County, Alabama Movement - Before 1826

A. John Taylor, reared in the Baptist Church.

B. Read the Bible and had problems with what Baptists taught.

C. He aspired to preach, but felt he needed someone to baptize him.

1. He found one Baptist minister that consented to baptize him for the remission of his sins.

2. They agreed to meet at a certain creek bank one night after midnight.

3. Taylor arrived early, but the Baptist preacher never showed.

a. Stayed till daylight.

4. When he found the preacher, he found that the man had lost heart saying if anyone found out, it would be certain trouble for him.

5. Through continued “pestering” the man finally agreed to do it if he promised never to tell who did the baptizing.

D. Once baptized, Taylor began preaching baptism the for remission of sins.

1. Someone once told him he was a Campbellite.

2. He said he’d never heard of Campbell.

3. He said he found his doctrine from the Word of God.


V. The Efforts Of Benjamin Lynn.

A. Kentucky Years.

1. Lynn came from Pennsylvania to Bardstown, KY in 1772

2. Brought two men with him: John Ritchie and John Gilkey.

a. They started distilleries in Kentucky.

b. Bardstown known for its production of liquor.

3. This was really before Bardstown got its name.

a. Area still relatively untouched.

b. Had rich virgin timber land.

c. The Indians were very spread out in the area.

d. Only just a few cabins together made up the little community.

4. Very soon after arriving the Revolution began.

a. The British had stirred up the Indians against the white man.

b. Raids broke out, people killed, homes burned, etc.

c. Many of the area settlers fled to nearby Fort Harrod, including Lynn and his friends.

5. During this time Lynn was studying his Bible.

6. Of George Rogers Clark

a. Brother to William Clark of “Lewis & Clark” fame.

b. But George was famous as well.

1) Had fought against Chief Pontiac in Indiana in the Indian wars.

2) Was appointed to protect that region in Kentucky.

3) He was in charge at Fort Harrod.

c. Most importantly he was a friend to Benjamin Lynn.

7. Surrounded By The Indians.

a. On one occasion the Indian attacked the fort.

1) Surrounded the fort.

2) This continued for 6 months.

b. A stalemate took place.

1) The Indians couldn’t get in.

2) The settlers couldn’t get out.

c. Benjamin Lynn had spent 7 years among Indians back in Pennsylvania.

1) He could speak their language.

2) He knew their ways.

d. He would break out at night to spy on the Indians.

1) In the dark he would converse with the Indians to find out their plans.

2) He would bring back food for the settlers.

 8. After wars w/ Indians Lynn went back to Bardstown deciding to preach.

a. Didn’t preach Baptist doctrine, just the Bible.

b. Local Baptists didn’t like it.

c. He pulled away from them.

9. In 1805

a. He had heard of B.W. Stone, but didn’t know him.

b. He traveled 80 miles north to ask him if he would baptize him for remission of sins.

c. Took several days to get to Cane Ridge through the woods.

d. He found Stone who baptized him for the remission of his sins.

B. To Huntsville, Alabama

1. In about 1810 he decided to move to North Alabama.

a. He went to Huntsville with his daughter Esther Chisholm & her husband John Chisholm.

b. Also brought with him daughter Rachel DeSpain & her husband Marshall DeSpain.

2. He began preaching in the Huntsville area.

a. He was Alabama’s first located preacher

b. In 1814 he organized the church in Huntsville, Alabama.

3. In the fall of 1814 Benjamin Lynn died.

*Note: At this time Campbell is still working with the Baptists and Stone has broken with the Presbyterians, but his influence had not reached this far south.

C. Chisholms To Florence, Alabama

1. After Lynn’s death daughter Esther and John Chisholm moved to a few miles north of Florence, Alabama.

a. Began worshipping in their home.

b. Studied with neighbors.

2. In 1824 a church was organized that still meets today.

a. Now called “Stoney Point” Church of Christ.

b. The oldest continuing church in Northwest Alabama.

3. The Chisholm graveyard is the oldest in Northwest, Alabama, located on Chisholm Road about six miles north of Florence.

D. DeSpains To Waterloo, Alabama

1. Rachel and Marshall DeSpain moved to Waterloo, Alabama.

a. Where the borders of Tennessee & Alabama meet.

b. And across the Tennessee River is the state of Mississippi.

2. In 1826 the church at Waterloo was established.

3. In 1830, it is reported that Mansil Matthews and cousin James Matthews ordered 300 song books for a church meeting in Waterloo, Alabama from Stone’s publishing house.

4. In 1835 the church at Waterloo disappears.

a. No records: State or County, they were gone.

b. Not until recently in a library at Texas Christian University (a Disciples of Christ library) a letter by Dr. Mansil Matthews, in his own handwriting explained what happened to the Waterloo Church of Christ.

c. The Christians living in Waterloo packed all their belongings and moved to Texas.

d. They hired David Crockett to be their guide.

e. Crockett grew tired of scouting for the group.

1) They stopped every Sunday all day for worship.

2) Too much down-time spent for Crockett’s liking.

f. He left the group at Memphis.

1) He had planned to go to Texas to fight the Mexicans.

2) He left Tennessee on this trip never to return.

3) Was killed at the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas

4) Not known if he ever obeyed the gospel, but he sure heard it.

g. The group went to Clarksville, Texas.

5. On January 1, 1836 the church was established on Texas soil.

6. So, the church at Waterloo disappeared, but showed up in Texas.

7. Over the next 30 or 40 years many churches were started from this group and its influence.

E. Other Things Of Interest Concerning The Lynn Family.

1. Benjamin taught his family well.

a. His daughters married good men.

b. They were Christians who taught their children the gospel.

2. The Marshall DeSpains in Waterloo had two children.

a. Son “Lynn DeSpain” who was a gospel preacher in Tenn. Ala. & Miss.

b. Daughter “Hetty” Esther DeSpain - named after aunt Esther Chisholm.

3. They converted Mansil Matthews in Waterloo, a school teacher in the community.

4. When they moved to Texas, Hetty married Joseph Addison Clark.

a. Had two sons, Addison and Randolph.

b. Both grew to be gospel preachers.

5. Clark brothers established a Christian college called Add-Ran College near Thorp Spring, Texas.

6. Later the name was changed to Texas Christian University.

a. Later a Disciples of Christ College

b. Because it got caught up in the instrument and the Missionary Society.

7. The Incident At Thorp Springs Church.

a. Talk of the use of the instrument was being discussed at length.

1) The Clark brothers were for it coming in.

2) The father, Joseph Clark was against it.

3) Joseph Clark had told his son that to bring it in would cause the church to split.

4) A petition had been signed by 3/4 of the congregation saying they didn’t want it.

b. Put To The Test.

1) A minister was coming to preach a revival.

2) One of the sons had told his dad that this preacher loved the piano.

3) Father warned him sternly of its folly, to no avail.

4) A petition with over 100 signatures opposed it, but the students wanted it.

5) On February 14, 1894, the day of the revival’s beginning, the woman prepared to begin playing the piano.

6) The old Joseph Clark, now in his 78 years old, got up, with Mrs. Hetty, and with cane in hand slowly walked out of the church with 2/3 of the congregation behind him.

7) The 1/3 left were in tears at the sad parting of about 140 of their number.

8) After their leaving it was reported that Addison said, “Play on Miss Bertha!” and the rest was history.

8. There are many stories like this in the history of the movement.

a. This was told many times over throughout the 1860’s, 70’s, 80’s.

b. When people veer from the truth it is necessary to stand for truth.

c. When it happens people will be hurt.

d. God will bless if “we faint not”

9. Later with the Texas Christian University’s departure to the Disciples went SOME of the Clarks. - Sometimes even families are broken.


VI. Other Movements Were Going On.

A. In the Kentucky Area.

B. In Other States

1. New York - In 1818 a church sent out a message all over the world that they were going back to the Bible.

a. They called themselves a church of Christ.

b. They were calling all believers to go back and be simple N.T. Christians

c. Churches in England responded.

2. Romney Meade, Massechusetts - 1760’s - there is record of a Church of Christ, but not much is known presently concerning their doctrine.

C. All coming together about the same time.

D. Like an awakening in America toward God.

E. Coinciding with others in Europe, England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

1. Hans Grimm wrote a book demonstrating how there were people back as early as the 1200’s who were searching the Scriptures.

2. Remember Daniel 2:44 - “God set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.”


VII. Two More Independent Works In Georgia

A. Antioch, at Scull Shoals Clark County (now Oconee).

1. Immigrant farmers from North Carolina.

2. These religious people were greatly influenced by James O’Kelley.

3. Built a building near Scull Shoals.

a. Called it “Old Republican” – 1807

4. By 1822

a. Had been influenced by B.W. Stone.

b. Community referred to them as “O’Kelleyites” & “Stoneites.”

5. 1832 - Nathan W. Smith moved into the area.

a. Influenced by Alexander Campbell.

b. Built a new meeting house, called “Antioch.”

c. There they decided to give up their denominational names, and ironically they were called “Christians” first at Antioch.


B. Augusta, 1835

1. Dr. Daniel Hook

a. Lived in Louisville, Ga.

b. Studied his Bible independently.

c. Saw the need for immersion and sought out a Baptist minister to do so.

d. Moved to August in 1835.

2. In Augusta.

a. Only a couple of other believers there.

b. Hook met and worshipped in the home of Edward Camfield.

3. Emily H. Tubman.

a. A wealthy widow living in Augusta during the winters, joined herself with the group. (summers with brother in Frankfort, KY).

1) Had been baptized by Silas M. Noel, prominent Baptist who fought against Campbell & Stone all his life.

Oct., 1828 – in the Kentucky River.

a) Ironically, though baptized by him, did more for the cause he fought against than any other in the state of Georgia.

2) Never held membership in a Baptist Church.

3) Upon meeting and studying with Alexander Campbell she readily accepted the truths he taught.

4) Upon arrival in Augusta she presented a baptismal certificate to the brethren proclaiming her obedience to the gospel.

b. Helped build a church building.

c. She built many buildings for brethren in Georgia.

d. Sponsored a $10,000 chair at Bethany College.

e. When she died she left $30,000.00 to the Foreign Christian Missionary Society. (To date was the largest single contribution ever to be given.)

f. Financed the building and furnishing the Frankfort, Kentucky Church of Christ.

g. Died at the age of 91, mourned throughout the country.

C. Atlanta

1. Nathan W. Smith moved to Atlanta in 1848, or 1849.

2. Dr. Daniel Hook moved to Atlanta in 1850.

3. January, 1855, Alvinzi G. Thomas became the first full-time minister.

a. He was the first Georgia graduate from Bethany College.

b. He preached for the church until the Civil War began.

c. He then enlisted in the Confederate Army as a chaplain of the seventh regiment infantry of the Georgia Volunteers.

4. During the Civil War.

a. Preachers included: Dr. H. Marshall; C.K. Marshall; W.H. Goodlow; and others.

5. In 1870’s – T.M. Harris was minister.

6. 1877-1884 – A.G. Thomas preached.

7. 1888-1898 – C.P. Williamson preached.

8. By 1904 – Sherman B. Moore preached.

a. A small mission church in West End was led by R. Lin Cave.

b. Not to be confused with the West End Church of Christ today.

9. With this movement went the brotherhood in Atlanta into apostasy by 1900.

a. The instrument & The Foreign Christian Missionary Society.

10. It was not until 1910 that the Church of Christ was established at West End that brings us to today.

11. In May of 2000 I visited the Peachtree Christian Church (Disciples). It was organized in 1925. It was a split from the 1st Christian Church in Decatur.

a. In the collectors case in the front lobby are two silver communion sets. One has inscribed on the pitcher “Church of Christ” “Atlanta” – 1872. The other on is inscribed, “Central Christian Church” – “1886.” This shows the time element involved in the departure in the movement.


VIII. The Old Philadelphia Meetinghouse, Viola, Tennessee

A. South of McMinnville, Tenn.

1. A group of citizens came together with the desire to worship.

2. 1805 or early 1806.

B. They united on the Bible alone.

C. Two years later some of the members moved down the Cumberland Gap into North Alabama at Bridgeport, beginning the work at Rocky Springs. –

1. Rocky Springs still meets to this day.

2. It is the oldest church in the state of Alabama.

D. This work began where none of the members had heard of Alexander Campbell of Barton W. Stone.