Merger of Stone and Campbell Movements
Search Timelines:

Founder
Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell
Time Period
1831
Description
Initially, Barton Stone and the Campbells led separate Christian movements. Barton Stone (1772-1844) played a prominent role in the Cane Ridge Revival and was a Presbyterian minister before becoming disenchanted with the church’s creeds. He formally broke off from the Presbyterians in 1804 and formed his own non-denominational movement.

Meanwhile, Thomas Campbell (1763-1854) and his son, Alexander (1788-1866) started a similar movement in southwestern Pennsylvania. Like Stone, the Campbells were Presbyterians who became frustrated with Presbyterian creeds. However, they took a much more rationalistic approach to Christianity, believing the Bible was a clear instruction guide for Christian identity and unity.

Although both movements had their differences, they realized that they both had common ground in restoring New Testament Christianity. Stone’s “Christians” and Alexander’s “Disciples” came together in Lexington, Kentucky for the organization’s first meeting, marking the rise of the Restoration Movement in the 19th century.
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Narrative
Prior to the merger in 1831, Barton Stone and the Campbells led separate Christian movements. Barton Stone (1772-1844) played a prominent role in the Cane Ridge Revival and was initially a Presbyterian minister. However, he experienced growing tension with the Presbyterians as he became disenchanted with the church’s creeds and they became suspicious of the emotional emphasis in Stone’s revivals. He formally broke off from the Presbyterians in 1804 and formed his own movement. Adherents called themselves “Christians” and dropped all creeds except those found in the Bible.

Meanwhile, Thomas Campbell (1763-1854) and his son, Alexander (1788-1866) started a similar movement in southwestern Pennsylvania. Like Stone, the Campbells were Presbyterians who became increasing frustrated with Presbyterian creeds and desired a church based on the biblical principles found in the New Testament. However, they took a much more rationalistic approach to Christianity, believing the Bible as a clear instruction guide for Christian identity and unity. Members of the Campbell movement were simply known as “disciples,” the common name of Christ’s followers in the New Testament. Alexander became the movement’s leader over time.

Although Stone was not rationalistic in his movement’s approach and Alexander was no revivalist, they realized that they both had common ground in the desire for restoring New Testament Christianity when they met in 1830. Not long after, Stone’s “Christians” and Alexander’s “Disciples” came together in Lexington, Kentucky for the organization’s first meeting. This event marked the rise of the Restoration Movement in the 19th century.
Religious Groups
Timeline Entries for the same religious group Restoration Movement

Biographies
Stone, Barton
Campbell, Alexander
Photographs

Hill Street Church, Lexington Ky, where the merger took place- Hathi Trust- from The Biography of Eld. Barton Warren Stone

John Smith, a leader in the union movement and spokesman for the Disciples of Christ- Hathi Trust- from Life of Elder John Smith by John Augustus Williams

Barton Stone portrait- Internet Archive- from A Comprehensive History of the Disciples of Christ by William Thomas Moore

Alexander Campbell portrait- Internet Archive- from Alexander Campbell’s Tour in Scotland by Thomas Chalmers
Book/Journal Source(s)
Lippy, Charles, and Peter Williams, 2010. Encyclopedia of Religion in America. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Queen, Edward, Stephen Prothero and Gardiner Shattuck, 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History. New York: Facts on File.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

Bookmark and Share