The publication of The Stone-Campbell Movement: A Global History concludes a seven-year journey for Scott Seay, Christian Theological Seminary Associate Professor of the History of Global Christianity. Professor Seay served as managing editor of the book, working with general editors D. Newell Williams, Douglas A. Foster and Paul M. Blowers, as well as 10 contributing authors and countless other individuals consulted during the writing process.
Below, Professor Seay remarks on the publication journey and what sets The Stone-Campbell Movement: A Global History apart from other histories of the Movement.
What is the overriding mission of this book?
The book presents a global perspective on the Stone-Campbell Movement. It chronicles the Movement from its efforts to spread the Christian faith following the American Revolutionary War, through today’s ongoing quest for unity.
Chalice Press in partnership with the Disciples of Christ Historical Society sought to present a narrative perspective on the Stone-Campbell Movement as a follow-up to The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Previously, most scholarship focused on the Movement’s impact in Great Britain and the U.S. The authors and writing team sought to portray a more global and inclusive scope that emerged during the 20th century through missionary outreach and the proliferation of independent churches. This part of the Movement’s story has been widely neglected by the press.
What was your role as managing editor?
I focused on much of the detail work including setting up conferences with contributing writers, working with the National Geographic Society to produce maps for the book and helping to identify illustrations. The writing team met on several occasions for three-day writing conferences during which we developed the book’s outline, read and critiqued one another’s contributions, and revised the manuscript as it developed. As a contributing author, I wrote two chapters, revised other chapters and supplemented the work of contributing authors with additional research, writing and the editing of more than 2,500 footnotes.
Beyond the concept of inclusion, how is this book distinguished from other Stone-Campbell Movement histories?
Many histories have focused on institutional developments and quantifiable data specific to the Movement. The writing team sought to emphasize the practice of faith among ordinary people and how their commitments became incarnate in the church. The book also aims to bridge a number of long-held conflicts and help people collaborate in a story that minimizes differences while emphasizing what the various expressions of the Movement have in common. The book evokes the deep and rich sense of community characteristic of the Stone-Campbell Movement.
Any “aha” moments you’d like to share?
I approached the project knowing that CTS had a very rich source of archival resources. However, after digging through these resources for seven years, I have an even broader and deeper appreciation for the richness of CTS’s archives. Other “aha” moments included the stories that emerged through conversations with collaborating authors and contributors. The process of writing the book cultivated a deep sense of community and rich scholarly discussion that simply wouldn’t have taken place if we were not working together on the book.
The Stone-Campbell Movement: A Global History is available in the CTS Bookstore at an introductory price of $59.99.