Saturday, March 03, 2012

An Open Door

While researching restoration history in Clay County, Missouri, I found some very interesting information in the records of the Liberty Christian Church, formerly the Church of Christ where Moses E. Lard preached between 1853 and 1857.

During the Civil War (sic), when Liberty was under the command of Federal Troops, an order had been issued by the commander that no public meetings of any nature were to be held in town. This included services of the church. Dr. W. A. Morton, a staunch southern sympathizer, was determined to keep the church doors open. The first Sunday morning the order was in effect, Dr. Morton came to the meeting house and opened the doors, preparing for the morning service, as usual. Word of this action spread rapidly through the town, reaching the ears of the commanding officer. The latter immediately sent an aide to the meeting house bearing orders that no services were to be held. The soldiers rode up to the church, found Dr. Morton, and said, “I have orders from the officer in charge of this community that there is to be no meeting here today.” Dr. Morton replied at once, “I thank you, sir, but I have orders from a higher officer than yours to have services, and we plan to obey His command.” The aide withdrew, and services were held, not only that Sunday, but every succeeding Sunday thereafter.

When word reached other members of the community that the church had met, they, too, decided to meet the next Sunday. This group was restrained from meeting, however, because the officer told them that, “If it was not worthwhile to have services last Sunday, it is not worthwhile to have services today.” The matter was closed, and the Liberty Church of Christ holds the distinction of being the only church to have services during the period of occupation by the Federal Troops.

If we were issued this same order today, would we close our doors as some of them did, or would we have the courage to stand for the truth as these brethren did and “obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29)?

Bill Goring

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