Jacob Engel Day

A charcoal drawing of Jacob Engel, considered by many to be the father of the contemporary Brethren in Christ Church. (Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives)

A charcoal drawing of Jacob Engel, considered by many to be the father of the contemporary Brethren in Christ Church. (Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives)

Today is the anniversary of the death of Brethren in Christ/River Brethren patriarch Jacob Engel, who is buried in Marietta, Pennsylvania, in present-day Lancaster County.

Here’s a short bit of background on Engel, courtesy of the Transhistorical Body blog (maintained by our friends at Circle of Hope):

Jacob Engel (or Engle) died 0n February 10, 1833.  He arrived with his parents in Philadelphia in 1754. They left Switzerland because of the persecution Mennonites were facing. The family settled in Lancaster, PA. Township tax records indicate Jacob was a farmer, owner of a cloth processing mill, and a minister of average financial means.

As a young man, “Yokeli” was transformed when elements of the Pietist revival, which first began in Germany, reached rural Pennsylvania. When a religious awakening swept through the German-speaking settlements, Jacob, assisted by his brother John, became [one of] the leader[s] of the emerging River Brethren (ca. 1780).

Read the whole post here.

Today, three groups trace their ancestry to these River Brethren — the Brethren in Christ (U.S. and Canada), the Old Order River Brethren, and the United Zion Church. The groups recently collaborated on the placement of a historical marker. The marker celebrates the origins of the River Brethren group, and is placed near the home where Engel, his wife, and his daughter Magdalena lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Little is known about Engel, especially his ministry, though most Brethren in Christ consider Engel as a significant figure in the origins of the group.

You can learn more about Engel and his gravesite in this post.

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About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Writer, editor, historian, blogger
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