Churches of Christ in Christian Union

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Churches of Christ in Christian Union (CCCU)
Classification Protestant
Orientation Restorationist, Holiness, Evangelical
Polity Congregationalist
Region 15 U.S. states, with world missions
Headquarters Circleville, Ohio
Founder James H. McKibban
Origin 1909
Columbus, Ohio
Separated from The Christian Union
Merger of Reformed Methodist Church
Separations House of Prayer (1918)
Congregations approx. 200

The Churches of Christ in Christian Union (CCCU) is a Wesleyan-Holiness and Restorationist Christian denomination.

The CCCU has a presence in 15 U.S. states and several nations, with about 200 churches in the United States.[1] Ohio Christian University is its educational wing with denominational world headquarters nearby, just outside Circleville, Ohio.


The Churches of Christ in Christian Union became a separate denomination in 1909 when five ministers and about 60 lay people were separated from the steadily declining Christian Union headquartered in Ohio.

While the Christian Union was originally formed in 1864 to protest to the Methodist Episcopal Church's support of the American Civil War, the CCCU was forged by a dispute over doctrine in 1909. Those holding to a Wesleyan view on sanctification were censured by the leadership of the South Ohio Conference of the Christian Union during a period of time in which many other Holiness movement supporters were at loggerheads within established denominations.[2]

Adherents of Holiness movement teachings contended that Christian Union was dedicated to unity on a few basic principles and should have been able to tolerate Holiness beliefs within its ranks as a matter of Christian liberty. Opponents of the Holiness teaching, however, saw it as a divisive movement that contradicted the Christian Union’s central commitment to harmony. In the Christian Union's development from Methodist dissenters to a Restorationist denomination, it picked up many Presbyterian traits (as did the Churches of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), etc.). The leadership of the Christian Union did not see things through the Wesleyan-Arminian theological prism but through a more Calvinist lens and, therefore, a non-Holiness perspective.

When the national organization of the Christian Union decided the censured members could only remain as part of the South Ohio Annual Conference, the members of the new group found themselves without a denominational home and thus pursued an independent course.[3]

The new organization was established under the leadership of James H. McKibban on September 20, 1909, and set up headquarters at Washington Court House, Ohio. By 1915, 40 churches belonged to CCCU. The number of churches increased to 60 by 1925. Most of the Churches of Christ in Christian Union's activities, including camp meetings, new church plants, and evangelistic campaigns, focused on Ohio, although revivals were held in Tennessee and New York.

In 1952, the like-minded Reformed Methodist Church (which had split from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1813) merged with the CCCU to form its Northeast District.

As common among many Wesleyan-Holiness bodies of the time, the CCCU called for the suffrage of women, the end to secret societies, and abstinence from alcohol and tobacco products.

The organization also formed institutions of higher education, including Circleville Bible College (now Ohio Christian University), which opened in 1948 in Circleville, Ohio.[4]

Doctrine and polity[edit]

Like many Restorationist bodies (e.g. the Churches of Christ) CCCU congregations put minimal emphasis on ritual or formalism in worship. Like Wesleyan-Holiness denominations (e.g. the Evangelical Methodist Church), it teaches a Wesleyan and Arminian doctrine. Revival campaigns, missionary conventions, and camp meetings are vital to the local, district, and general levels of the denomination.

Bible teachings[edit]

The denomination teaches that "God speaks to mankind through the Bible. The Spirit of God guided the Bible writers so that they wrote without error. The Bible contains all we need to know about God, about ourselves, and about life here and hereafter. It contains the good news and the bad news.

"Sin takes two forms: willful disobedience to God’s known law; human nature is corrupted by evil. So all, Christ excepted, are sinful by nature and sinners by practice, and therefore are in need of redemption since "the wages of sin is death."

"Salvation has been made possible by Christ's atoning death on the cross. Christ's death and resurrection have won salvation in four senses: the regeneration in which all are forgiven of all sins and baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ; entire sanctification in which we are baptized with the Holy Spirit and cleansed from the carnal mind, growth in grace after sanctification in which we walk in new light as it is given and are made more and more like Jesus; immortality of body and soul.

"Christ is one with the Father and with the Holy Spirit, but for our redemption He became Man He was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. He was without sin. He died to save us, but arose from the dead and is now ascended to heaven where He is at the right hand of God, interceding for us.

"We look for His return in power and majesty to set up a millennial kingdom on earth. At the last He will judge the world in righteousness.

"The Holy Spirit is one with God the Father and God the Son, and He is a Person and is God’s Agent in convicting and convincing sinners of sin. The Holy Spirit, or the Comforter, regenerates repentant believing sinners, and sanctifies consecrated Christians. The Holy Spirit magnifies Jesus Christ in the lives of believers and energizes them to live victoriously." [5]


The CCCU believes that Christ and His apostles gave two "ordinances" to be practiced by His Church: water baptism and the Lord's supper, without specifying any particular style of baptism or of partaking of the supper. These ordinances are outward symbols, teaching of the inner life, the faith, and the hope of believers.[6]

The Lord’s Day[edit]

According to CCCU documentation, "the first day of the week is the Lord's Day, or Sabbath, because Christ arose from the dead on the first day of the week The early church kept this day in commemoration of Gods finished plan of redemption. It is kept as a day of rest and worship."[7]

The hereafter[edit]

Adherents believe the Bible teaches "that believers shall spend eternity with Christ in a holy heaven with holy and happy surroundings. It also teaches that the wicked shall be judged and sentenced to an eternity in perdition."[8]

The Church[edit]

The universal Church, according to the CCCU, is "more than a denomination and more than all the denominations. It is composed of true believers in Jesus Christ. Christ is the Head and the Husband of the Church. Believers should meet together in local assemblies for the worship of God and for Christian fellowship. The Church has been commissioned by Christ to take the gospel to every creature: it is therefore missionary."[9]


The mission of the Churches of Christ in Christian Union is to "preach and teach the gospel of Christ for the purpose of: World evangelization, discipling believers, promoting scriptural holiness, and establishing churches and ministries which reflect the spirit and practice of the New Testament Church."[10]

A Global Ministry Center is located in Circleville, Ohio, which serves as headquarters. Each of the departments and ministries have administrative offices at Circleville. Each district office works with local pastors and church leadership. Annual district camp meetings and business councils provide networking for individual local churches.

The leader of the local church is the pastor, but the responsibility of administration is shared with the local board. The CCCU teaches that its members should be good Christian examples, honest in business and in all other human relationships. Its purpose is to maintain a spiritual church where people of all walks of life may find an experience with God which produces eternal hope and fellowship with other Christians.

The CCCU cooperates with other, likeminded denominations. As an example, it sends an observer to the general conferences of its "sister denomination," the Evangelical Methodist Church.

The church spreads the good news around the world through its partnership with World Gospel Mission in Bolivia, the Caribbean, Honduras, Kenya and Papua New Guinea as well as ministering to various American Indian tribes.[11]

Ohio Christian University (formerly Circleville Bible College, founded in 1948) trains pastors, evangelists, missionaries, teachers, youth directors and ministers of music circle for the CCCU as well as other denominations.

Denominational-level committees include the General Evangelism Committee, General Stewardship Department, Christian Education Department, Evangelical Christian Youth Department, Evangelical Christian Ladies Department, Gifts Of Praise bookroom, and a periodical, the Evangelical Advocate.

The Mount of Praise Camp Meeting in Circleville serves as the general level annual camp meeting for all the congregations.[12]

Notable members[edit]


External links[edit]