Early this week a retired colleague, Ray Blampied, died in Christchurch. He was over 100 yrs old. I have always admired his loving pastor's heart, his openness and his commitment. He has been an example to follow and was loved by many. In 1983 he presented me with these three items which have deep Associated Churches of Christ links - Two historical books, "Millennial Harbingers" (one of them British) in which Alexander Campbell (one of our founders and a theologian ahead of his time) expressed his thoughts. Ray also made this cross from a Locust tree raised from seeds gathered from trees planted by Campbell at his home in Bethany, West Virginia, and gave it as a gift to me. I was honoured that he thought me worthy. Well lived "good and faithful servant!"
Churches of Christ began as a movement to unite the then much divided Presbyterian Church. They went back to New Testament basics. Some of their slogans were;
"No creed but Christ"
"In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and in all things Love."
"This is the Lord's table." (An open communion table way back in early 1800's.)
In their formation they had an advanced view of Biblical interpretation, a broad view of the people of God, and simple way of "being." I valued this heritage. Time has distorted the basics, more schism has happened and theology moves on... but I love the originating ethos and basic principles. I now worship most often in a Presbyterian Church but my heart remains in the freedom and potential in that Campbell movement ethos.
My friend Ray Blampied was also devoted to these principles.