Long-time readers will remember the controversy that arose in early 2009 over the new edition of Churches of Christ in the United States. At that time, 21st Century Christian decided to exclude instrumental congregations — even congregations with both instrumental and a cappella services that continued to be in active communion with other Churches of Christ, such as The Hills Church of Christ (formerly Richland Hills Church of Christ) in Ft. Worth, our largest congregation.
I protested this change vehemently —
Others did as well. And 21st Century Christian responded with a change in policy. According to an email sent to the Christian Chronicle,
During the discussion process, it was determined that most of the congregations in question do continue to identify themselves as what we in the “religious bodies statisticians world” term as “independents,” meaning that they have chosen not to identify with any denomination or religious body. In addition, a few were verified as having chosen to identify with the Christian Church/Church of Christ, or they were simply misidentified at some point in the past as a congregation of the Churches of Christ. In both cases, coordinated efforts were established between ourselves and the appropriate data collectors to see that those congregations (as well as any future discoveries) were accounted for properly.
The handful of remaining congregations that adopted Sunday instrumental worship service practices, yet have chosen to still identify themselves as part of the historically a cappella Churches of Christ have all been included in the coming CCUSA 2012 data. Two new self-identifying characteristic codes were added for the congregations to describe themselves with as having some or all of their worship services involving instruments.
In other words, if an instrumental or partly instrumental congregation chooses to remain affiliated with the Churches of Christ, the 21st Century Century publication will now include them. This is as it should be. Thanks to all those involved for the correction!
Now, that being said, you should go to the 21st Century Christian website and check out their database entries for your congregation. They have an interactive link that allows you to check their information on your congregation. They’re going to print in early 2012; so check the data soon. If your congregation is new, you may have ben overlooked entirely and will certainly want to have your church’s name entered.