Are the Brethren in Christ North America’s Oldest Religious Society?

That’s the question church historians and Pennsylvania historical experts are trying to answer before next year, when the state will erect a historical marker recognizing the home of a River Brethren founder.

Here’s more info, from Lancaster Online:

The River Brethren, indeed, may be not only one of the oldest but the oldest native religious society still operating, according to [Glen] Pierce [, director of the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives]. Historians have yet to pin that down.

Jacob Engel, a Swiss Mennonite, was one of eight River Brethren to sign a 1780 confession of faith. The group seems to have originated several years before that signing.

In the 1860s, the group changed its name to Brethren in Christ, a denomination that now has congregations in 24 states, four Canadian provinces and more than 14 countries worldwide.

Two smaller denominations also trace their roots to the River Brethren.

Read the whole article.

Hopefully, the search for piety and obedience will have more to report on this historical inquiry soon!

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About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Father to Lucas. Husband to Katie. Prof and administrator at Messiah College. PhD student at Temple University. Member of Grantham BIC.
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6 Responses to Are the Brethren in Christ North America’s Oldest Religious Society?

  1. Tom Grosh IV says:

    A topic of conversation at last night’s “The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from C. S. Lewis” men’s discussion group at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church. And I wasn’t the one to bring it up 😉

  2. Doris Heisey Crider says:

    The Conoy and Bainbridge area is rich in history going back to the Indians. Hmmm!
    Wish I would have asked more stories before my ancestors moved on to Heaven.

  3. David Byer says:

    Doris, when it comes to more stories I’m thinking how great it would be if the story of your father and his stories were to be told more completely. The Patriot-News provided a good start last November with his obituary and David Wenner’s “Remembering: Avery Heisey built up people’s lives before building a Foucault pendulum”.

    I’m sure there is more-much more-that could be told of your father. As near as I can recall, I met him on only one occasion: Jan 1961. At that event he demonstrated his fund-raising talent. The experience generated a story I enjoy re-telling from time to time.

    How did he come to start his career as a jeweler and watchmaker? As near as I can tell he was reared in one of the more conservative BIC communities? Who would have thought that would lead to Messiah Village having a Foucault pendulum? As a result Messiah Village has something the Smithsonian Museum doesn’t have.

  4. Doris Heisey Crider says:

    Thanks David for your very kind and generous comments. I am collecting his stories and the memories that people share. I would enjoy hearing your story! Thanks again, your reply is a great inspiration!

  5. plainlady says:

    Where in the world can i find a copy of the OORB confession of faith?

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