About the Author

Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Hi. I’m Devin C. Manzullo-Thomas.

I’m a historian, archivist, writer, blogger, and teacher. I serve as the Director of the Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan Studies and an Adjunct Instructor at Messiah College, and as Assistant Editor of Brethren in Christ History and Life, the journal of the Brethren in Christ Historical Society. I hold degrees from Temple University (M.A., 2012) and Messiah College (B.A., 2009).

As a historian, my research interests include Brethren in Christ Church history, the history of twentieth-century American Evangelicalism, and the history of Anabaptist and Pietist groups in America. I’m interested in work that allows me to bridge the divide between academic historians and the general public. I’m especially eager to use my knowledge of America’s religious history to aid faith communities.

My essays and reviews have appeared in Brethren in Christ History and Life, Mennonite Quarterly Review, Covenant Quarterly, and other scholarly and popular publications.

My wife, Katie, and I have been married since 2010. We currently live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and attend the Grantham Brethren in Christ Church.

You can learn more about me and my work by reading my vitae.

14 Responses to About the Author

  1. Jeff McLain says:

    Well you and I have something in common, Jacob Engle was my 10th Great Grandfather – since he is the founding pastor of the River Brethren, which gave way to BIC- early BIC history has always been interesting to me.

    Do you know much about Jacob Engle? And how he was one of the only young kids to survive the trip?

  2. Steve Hanken says:

    Devin, since I am a practical novice in Brethren history, I have become something of a wind mill tilter in an attempt to show the possibility that the Brethren in Iowa could and probably did, have a role in the Under Ground Railroad. Unfortunately, I am also of the option their piety got in the way of recording what they probably felt was their role in doing this activity because it was obvious to them that was what God wanted of them. The Brethren abandoned slavery 40 years before Lincoln finally began to do the same for the rest of the nation, it would only appear they were well schooled as to why black people deserved to be free.When I start to look for the brethren in Iowa you find them in areas where there is plenty of UGRR activity, but no mention or even a hint of their contribution. With concentrations of Brethren in Muscatine, Cedar, Louisa,Lee , Henry and Linn counties you also have Congregationalists and Quakers doing the work of the UGRR. Have you run across any indications of Brethren in the West getting involved in this activity? I would appreciate any insights you might have.

    • Devin Manzullo-Thomas says:

      Hi Steve: Thanks for your comment. I want to make sure we’re talking about the same group here. The religious community chronicled at this blog, the Brethren in Christ, are different/distinct from other “brethren” groups like the Church of the Brethren, the Brethren Church, and the United Brethren in Christ / Evangelical United Brethren Church, to name just a few. The Brethren in Christ began as the River Brethren, near Lancaster, Pa.; two other groups, the Old Order River Brethren and the United Zion Church, also trace their origins back to the River Brethren.

      In terms of the Brethren in Christ: Records of all the denomination’s congregation are headquartered in Grantham, Pennsylvania, at the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives. Feel free to contact that institution with your query. However, I should say that few church records exist prior to the Civil War era to document any aspect of church life. I know of no documents recording any Brethren in Christ/River Brethren activity related to the Underground Railroad. It would be quite a find to discover any materials related to that topic!

      It sounds to me like the group you’re hoping to research is not the same one I research. As far as I know, the Brethren in Christ never had churches or church members in all those locations in Iowa.

      Good luck in your search, whichever group you pursue.

      • Steve Hanken says:

        As far as I can tell, the earliest person who is affiliated with the Brethren group I am looking at is Reverend Christian Troup, a member of the Wabash Conference who came to Iowa in 1836 as a missionary. Since the use of the term “Brethren” seems so broad, this continues to befuddle me as to who I need to talk to. I am hoping you might be more able to point me in the correct direction, this is such a fascinating possibility and could open new historical research if I can prove what I believe actually happened!

  3. Warren Sherman says:

    Hello Devin
    I find your work and writings most interesting.
    I stumbled across your work again today while researching the BIC missions in Japan. The earthquake disaster had me thinking of our time there and friends.
    In 1969 my new wife and I traveled to Japan on vacation. I was working for United Airlines at LAX. This gave me discounted (cheap) travel. We stayed with the John Graybills near Tokyo, what an outstanding person and family. That allowed us to visit the surrounding area. We were also able to visit Doyle and Thelma Book (who is part of my wife’s (Leanna Book) extended family). Visiting the Zooks in Shimonoseki was another highlight. With my father a minister in the BIC church their missions were important to us.
    This brings me to my next thought.
    I find it disturbing that if you Google Upland College you get almost nothing and Wikipedia has nothing. I was serving my 1-W time at Upland when it closed. It was an outstanding school that accomplished much and deserves recognition. My family has close ties and history with both of the United States BIC schools.
    Mom and Dad both attended Messiah and Upland with Mom buried in Grantham overlooking Messiah.
    I have put together a paragraph for Wikipedia about Upland and think you may be the person to help me get this done. I’m not sure I trust my skills for this job.

    Thanks for you time, Warren Sherman Jr.

    • Devin Manzullo-Thomas says:

      Hi Warren: Thanks for your comments, and for joining our little community here at the search for piety and obedience. I’m glad to have you.

      Thanks also for sharing your recollections of the church in Japan. I don’t know much about John Graybill and his family, but I did have the occasion to meet and spend time with Doyle and Thelma Book last spring. They are delightful people, very passionate about missions and committed to the work of God’s church. I’m glad to hear that you’re related to them.

      In relation to your comment about Upland College: I am glad to hear that someone is interested in getting this school the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, my schedule at this time does not allow me to participate in any major project like the one you are describing, but I wish you the best of luck as you pursue this quest.

      By the way, do you have a copy of E. Morris Sider’s history of Upland College? It’s titled “A Vision for Service.” Used copies are available at Amazon.com. I would also be happy to put you in touch with Dr. Sider to see if he has any copies of his book that he would be willing to sell.

      Let me know if you have any questions. I hope to blog more about Upland College soon!

  4. Devin Manzullo-Thomas says:

    Steve: I did a quick Google search of the name “Christian Troup” and “brethren” and came up with this Google Books result: History of Linn County, Iowa.

    According to the book, Troup was part of the United Brethren in Christ Church. You can find out more about this religious community here.

    Since the United Brethren in Christ Church isn’t my area of specialty, I’m afraid I can’t be of additional help to you. Sorry! Good luck on your research.

  5. Art says:

    Devin your blog is really amazing! I got to it through the Shalomhouse website. Thanks for contributing to that. -Art

    • Devin Manzullo-Thomas says:

      Thanks, Art! Glad you’ve enjoyed it. I’m glad to start contributing to the Shalom House site.

  6. Ken Fretz says:

    Devin: I am truly enjoying your blog! Some months ago, I googled my grandfather’s name, for something to do. Being a newbie at a pc I was astounded at what appeared! First, I thank God for my Grandfather, the late Bishop Bert Sherk, and his personal attention that gave me. Secondly, it has been rewarding to see photos and stories that seemed like distant history to me, growing up in the 1950’s . As a youngster, I read the Evangelical Visitor, and now your blog brings back so many of those wonderful stories, about such truly great people of God. It is my prayer, that the present generation will look at this blog and learn from the history that lies within the story you tell. Thanks so much.

  7. Doris Heisey Crider says:

    Thanks for all your research and time devoted to this blog. I will be thinking of you with gratitude on Turkey Day!

  8. Lois Lee Soto aka Lois Lee Potter says:

    As a former student of Jabbok Bible School, I find your page very interesting. My great-grandparents, Albert and Mary Ann Altman were one of two families that settled the town of Thomas, Oklahoma. (But the town was later given the name Thomas, being named after the first merchant in town.) I know this is not what you are discussing, but I had relatives that were Brethern In Christ, and many family friends, so I enjoyed your discussions.

  9. Joy Keezer says:

    When I was about 3 years old I spent a month in the hospital at the Brethren in Christ Mission Hospital in NM, my younger sister was born there on April 7,1962. I am interested in photos and information of the hospital & care givers during that time period of time.

  10. thanks for mentioning the Circle of Hope audio Art Cd, We really need the exposure to sustain our mission!.

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