By Kyle Peveto, Opinion Editor
Hundreds gathered to fill half of Moody Coliseum each weekday afternoon during Lectureship to witness a historic meeting between ministers and leaders of the International Church of Christ and “mainline” Churches of Christ.
ICOC and university ministers alike gave the forums positive reviews.
“I think the forum was a great success,” said Greg Marutzky, lead minister of the DFW ICOC and Biblical studies doctoral student. “All the men on the panel were very spiritual and peacemakers.”
Monday’s forum discussion featured an apology from ICOC members for the fellowship’s abuse of control.
Tuesday’s forum featured an apology from Dr. Jack Reese, dean of the College of Biblical Studies, for many ICOC detractors’ use of the “cult” label.
The forum idea brought a mixture of opposition and support in the weeks preceding Lectureship from both ICOC and mainline members.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Dr. Mark Love, director of ministry events. “A lot of people came away surprised.”
Conversation participants began praying together Saturday to prepare for the forums.
“All of us from the ICOC were not sure how we would be received, and we were a little nervous, but the reception by the audience was full of Christian love and mercy,” Marutzky said.
The forums focused on the history and future of both fellowships.
The ICOC grew from movements fostered within the mainline congregations beginning in the 1970s and ’80s and became known as the Boston movement for the quickly growing Boston Church of Christ.
The movement’s aggressive evangelical techniques and mentoring structure within the congregations led detractors to label it a cult. After the group’s most influential figure, Kip McKean, stepped down to a lesser post two years ago, the ICOC moved toward restructuring their congregations and refocusing their fellowship.
“I respect the faith and courage of the leadership at ACU for having the desire and willingness to host this overdue conversation between the ICOC and the Church of Christ,” Marutzky said.
Reconciliation between the two fellowships will only occur through individual congregations, Reese told the Optimist before the forums. Because the mainline churches and the ICOC are autonomous, each congregation will decide how to handle recent developments between the two.
“Results will be various,” Love said, but added, “People think this was an important conversation.”