Historical Committee

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Frequently Asked Questions about the ANE

What is the Church of the Brethren?

What is the Church of the Brethren?

The Church of the Brethren is a protestant denomination formed in Germany in 1708 with roots in Anabaptism and Pietism. Due to religious persecution they began emigrating to America in 1719. Basic beliefs include pacifism, non-credalism, and individual conscience.

Read more at http://www.brethren.org/about/history.html

When was the Atlantic Northeast District (ANE) formed?

When was the Atlantic Northeast District (ANE) formed?

The Church of the Brethren in the USA is divided into geographical regions called Districts. In 1867 the 14 congregations east of the Susquehanna River formed the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In 1911 some congregations split from the Eastern District to form the Southeastern District of Pennsylvania, which was renamed the North Atlantic District in 1954. These two Districts were reunited to form the Atlantic Northeast District in 1970.

What is the oldest house of worship in the ANE District?

What is the oldest house of worship in the ANE District?

Although the German immigrant Brethren initially met in their homes for worship, in 1770 they constructed a stone Meetinghouse at 6611 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, which is still used today by the Germantown Church of the Brethren congregation. A Pennsylvania Historical Marker may be viewed at this site.

What is the oldest house of worship in the District that has been in continuous use?

What is the oldest house of worship in the District that has been in continuous use?

The Pricetown Meetinghouse near Fleetwood in Berks County, built in 1777, holds this honor. The Mohrsville C.O.B. currently maintains this meetinghouse.  The congregation has a special annual gathering at the meetinghouse

What is the congregation which has been continuously worshiping the longest?

What is the congregation which has been continuously worshiping the longest?

The Coventry congregation in Pottstown, PA was formed in 1724 with Martin Urner as their leader, but their current house of worship (which has been expanded since) dates only to 1890.

Where were the first Brethren baptisms held in America?

Where were the first Brethren baptisms held in America?

The Brethren believe in adult baptism, so once they arrived in America, new members were taken into the congregation by baptism. The first baptism was held on Christmas Day, 1723, in the Wissahickon Creek. The site, just off Kitchen Avenue in Fairmount Park in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, is marked with a simple plaque affixed to a stone marker.

Are there any famous Colonial Americans who were Church of the Brethren?

Are there any famous Colonial Americans who were Church of the Brethren?

Christopher Saur I (1695-1758, also spelled Sauer and later anglicized to Sower) and his son, Christopher Saur II (1721-1784), were among the most influential men in Colonial America. The Saur Press was the most prolific printer of German language books, Broadsides, and a German newspaper that was widely read in the colonies. A Pennsylvania Historical Marker has been placed at 5300 Germantown Avenue to recognize Saur’s influence.

Alexander Mack (1679-1735), viewed as the founder of the denomination in 1708, came to Germantown in 1729 and worshipped with the Brethren until his death in 1735.

Peter Becker (1687-1758), who led the first contingent of Brethren to cross the Atlantic in 1719, led the Germantown Brethren and helped organize congregations throughout Eastern Pennsylvania in the 1720’s. He performed the first baptisms in America on Christmas Day, 1723.

Martin Urner (1695-1755) came to America from Switzerland in 1708. He was a successful farmer who was baptized on Christmas Day 1723, and in 1724 he formed the Coventry congregation, He quickly became a leader in the Church of the Brethren, and is credited with organizing and leading the first “annual meeting” of the Brethren in 1742.

Who were other famous Brethren from the Atlantic Northeast District?

Who were other famous Brethren from the Atlantic Northeast District?

Martin Grove Brumbaugh (1862-1930), governor of Pennsylvania  1915-1919.

How is the Ephrata Cloister related to the Church of the Brethren?

How is the Ephrata Cloister related to the Church of the Brethren?

Conrad Beissel, who founded the Ephrata Cloister as a celibate religious society in 1738, had been a member of the Church of the Brethren in Conestoga (now Lancaster), but split from the Brethren over his belief in the Sabbath being the seventh day (Saturday). Several Brethren from Pennsylvania joined the Cloister, including the wife of Christopher Saur I and the son of Alexander Mack.

How many Church of the Brethren Cemeteries are in ANE?

How many Church of the Brethren Cemeteries are in ANE?

The ANE Historical Committee continues to research this.

Click Here to see the current list.

If you are aware of other Church of the Brethren cemeteries or Memorial Gardens in the ANE District that are not listed here, please contact our District Office at 717-367-4730.

What books can I read to learn more about the history of the Atlantic Northeast District?

What books can I read to learn more about the history of the Atlantic Northeast District?

The Brethren Encyclopedia, Volumes 1-3, Brethren Press, 1983. Volume 4, 2000.

Durnbaugh, Donald F., Fruit of the Vine, Brethren Press, 1997

Durnbaugh, Donald F., The Brethren in Colonial America, Brethren Press, 1967

Fitzgee, Donald R., Moving Toward the Mainstream, Good Books, Intercourse, PA 1995

Gleim, Elmer Q., From These Roots: A History of the North Atlantic District, Church of the Brethren, Forry and Hacker, Lancaster, PA 1975

History of the Church of the Brethren Eastern Pennsylvania 1708-1915 readable online at Google books

History of the Church of the Brethren Eastern Pennsylvania 1915-1965, Forry and Hacker, Lancaster, PA 1965