Area Christian churches gather for the 189th East Tennessee Christian Convention

Hannah Swayze • Updated Nov 5, 2017 at 10:40 PM

On Sunday, local Christian Churches gathered together in one location to touch base and for fellowship, an old tradition that has continued almost 200 years.

All participating churches gathered at Boones Creek Christian Church, which is the mother church for several churches in the area and for the past couple years has held the convention in its location right off the Boones Creek exit of Interstate 26.

The Sunday night service opened up with a prayer, and songs from a combined choir of various churches' choir members. The music was followed by a moment of history read aloud about the formation of the Christian church years ago.

Before the convention speaker began, the congregation shared a collective emotional prayer for those affected by the mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Ethan Magness, senior minister at First Christian Church of Johnson City, served as the speaker for the evening. He spoke on the question, "How can we, as Christians, begin to live life that will surprise the world?"

This year's convention marks the 189th East Tennessee Christan Convention, making it the world's oldest convention for Christian churches.

The tradition is still alive today despite the fact the numbers aren't up in the thousands like they used to be, especially in around the 1930s where it is recorded that the convention had a regular attendance of around 2,000 attendees. Up to 8,000 were in attendance during some meetings.

Ministers and members of the congregations from about 25 Christian churches from East Tennessee and some from Southwest Virginia gathered in the worship building of Boones Creek Christian. Though not quite full, the building still emanated the warmth of friendship.

"Our hope is to get it back up to where it used to be, to where large numbers come," said David Clark, minister at Boones Creek Christian Church.

According to Clark, though the numbers aren't up into the thousands, the convention is still a good way to reconnect with other members of other churches that they haven't seen in a while.

"It’s as much for the friendship, if anything. We recognize we're in this together," said Clark.

Between the service, fellowship and refreshments, the convention was also a good way for members of Christian churches to see some of the work that other Christian churches do in their communities.

A sequence of videos were shown intermittently from places like the Campus House on the ETSU campus, East Tennessee Christian Home and Academy and the children's Christian camp.

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