“The Little White Church on the Hill” or Smyser Christian Church is the second oldest church in Moultrie County. In 1837 a minister, Tobias Grider, decided to organize the church and held services in a school house until land was donated by S. M. Smyser. A traveling minister held church services about once a month. Smyser Christian Church is a part of a movement that began as early as 1801 in Cane Ridge, Kentucky. Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell both became fed up with the divisions that had resulted from denominations and hierarchy in the churches of that day. They believed the church was called to stand united with Jesus as its leader and the Bible as its only authority. Members of these new-founded churches championed the slogan, “In the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love.” They knew they were not the only Christians in the world, but they chose to define themselves as “Christians only,” not claiming any other name or title.
Over 200 years of the Restoration Movement’s history can be summarized by this pursuit: Restoration for the purpose of unity for the purpose of mission. Jesus himself said that his followers should be one as he and God were one (John 17:21-26). The world would come to believe in him through the love we had for one another. Churches in our movement’s history have, at times, missed this mark. Yet, at our core, this is who we are.
For those interested, a more detailed account of the Restoration Movement can be found in Henry Webb’s In Search of Christian Unity: A History of the Restoration Movement.