By Kyle Peveto, Opinion Editor
“Faithful Conversations,” a forum between members of the International Church of Christ and university faculty, has been moved from University Church of Christ to Moody Coliseum after the proposed forum drew attention from a broad spectrum of the Christian community, according to Lectureship directors.
The forums, occurring Monday through Wednesday at 3:15 p.m., have drawn interest from media sources inside the Christian community, such as the Christian Chronicle, and other media sources, such as The Chicago Tribune, said Dr. Mark Love, director of Ministry Events.
“We want to be sure we can accommodate everybody,” Love said.
Significant changes in the structure and focus of the ICOC fueled the concept of a series of conversations between the two groups.
The forums will begin Monday when ICOC representatives discuss their movement and the recent changes that shook it. Tuesday’s forum will feature a conversation between representatives from mainline churches and the ICOC that will discuss the shared history of the two movements.
Wednesday, representatives from both groups will discuss the future of both movements.
“I think the conversation will create peace between the two fellowships,” said Greg Marutzky, an ICOC minister from the DFW Church of Christ who will participate in the forum. “I think our commonality will be acknowledged and also areas of difference will be discussed. I think the ICOC is acknowledging our common heritage.”
The Lectureship forums can only be a start to a possible series of conversations between the two groups, said Dr. Jack Reese, dean of the College of Biblical Studies.
“Our primary goal is to have conversations in the spirit of Christianity,” Reese said.
Reese said the forums will not involve the idea of merging or “whitewashing” the past, but they will seek “understanding among believers.”
Kip McKean, the charismatic leader of the ICOC, stepped down after directing the movement for more than 20 years, and the group dissolved its hierarchal structure of congregations in favor of autonomy, ICOC members on campus have said.
Because of a pyramidal structure of mentoring within ICOC congregations and a pattern of aggressive recruiting that caused the group to be banned from some college campuses, detractors, including many mainline Churches of Christ, often labeled the group a cult, the Chronicle reported.
Some individual congregations offered apologies for actions of the ICOC in years past, and some major documents circulated throughout the group calling for a new direction. McKean stayed on as a minister in the Portland, Ore., but left his post as director.
Because of the autonomy of mainline Churches of Christ and the recently acquired autonomy of ICOC congregations, no concrete reconciliation can occur through “Faithful Conversations,” Reese said.
“It is going to have to be done individually or congregationally,” he said.