Thomas Campbell, having spent nearly half of his life as a minister among the Seceder Presbyterians, now, in 1808, finds himself without a party to support him. But he was a free man in Christ, not bound to any sectarian platform. He was free to preach and teach the Word of God. Not wanting to start another denomination, he preaches wherever he was given the opportunity. The Christian Association of Washington (PA) was formed on August 17, 1809 in the home of Abraham Alters. Their motto was “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak, and where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.” It was to meet but once a year. Thomas Campbell was authorized to prepare a document stating the aims of the organization. This document was called The Declaration and Address. He presented it to the Association, and it was ordered printed on September 7, 1809.
As we related before, Thomas Campbell had left his family in Ireland and came to America to make a home for them. We must, at this time, account for their journey to Pennsylvania. Later articles will tell of Alexander’s life in Ireland and Scotland.
In March of 1808, Thomas Campbell sent word for his family to join him in Western Pennsylvania. Alexander went at once to Londonderry to book passage for them. They departed and were delayed by a shipwreck. God was merciful and none of the Campbell’s were killed. They had to delay their journey and spend time in Glasgow, Scotland. They were to spend a total of three hundred days in Scotland. This time gave Alexander the opportunity to study at the University of Glasgow. It also gave him opportunity to become acquainted with men who were working for a return to the primitive order concerning New Testament worship. A few of these were the Haldane brothers and Greville Ewing. By having spent this time in Scotland, Alexander Campbell was better prepared to assist his father in proclaiming the noble aims of The Declaration and Address.
On September 29, 1809, after a sea voyage of fifty four days, they arrived in America, A few days later they embarked for the Pennsylvania frontier. On October 19, 1809, they met Thomas on the road just a few days east of Washington, Pennsylvania. Now Thomas Campbell had his family to assist him in his noble work.
As they met on the Pennsylvania frontier, neither Thomas nor Alexander knew that each other had renounced the teachings of Presbyterianism. Each was convinced that a return to the Bible was the only hope for divided Christendom. As Alexander read The Declaration and Address, he determined to devote his life to proclaiming its principles. Thomas Campbell, according to Dr. Richardson, in Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, is said to have remarked, “Upon these principles, my dear son, I fear you will have to wear many a ragged coat.” The Declaration and Address will go down as one of the most important of the non-inspired writings.
The Christian Association of Washington existed for a little more than two years. At the semi-annual meeting on May 4, 1811, the Christian Association of Washington constituted itself as a Church. It was felt by all that the aims of the Association could better be carried out and that the welfare of its members could better be served in the capacity of the local church. framework, as is taught on the pages of God’s Truth.
Thomas Campbell was appointed Elder (plurality of Elders would come later). Alexander Campbell was licensed to preach the Everlasting Gospel, and four deacons were chosen.
Let us catch the restoration spirit of Thomas Campbell and do our bet to preach and teach New Testament Christianity in our day. Remember: Jesus is returning!