This summer, a Brethren in Christ heritage site in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, became the site of a new historical marker sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Historical Marker program.
The marker, erected and dedicated on June 23, 2012, stands near the Magdalena House, the homestead of Brethren in Christ “founder” Jacob Engel. It also stands within feet of the Conoy Creek — the body of water were the first Brethren in Christ baptisms took place.
The marker celebrates the River Brethren — the religious predecessors of today’s Brethren in Christ, Old Order River Brethren, and United Zion Church — and their role as one of the oldest denominations founded in America. It reads:
One of the first religious denominations founded in America, the group held their first baptism in the nearby Conoy Creek around 1780. Worship services were held down this lane at the Magdalena House, the home of Jacob Engel, one of the founders. The River Brethren changed its name to the Brethren in Christ in the mid-19th century. Other organizations with River Brethren roots are the Old Order River Brethren and the United Zion Church.
All three groups with River Brethren roots participated in a June 23 dedication ceremony, jointly sponsored by the Brethren in Christ Historical Society and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and held at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Luck, Jr., in Bainbridge, Pa. The restored Magdalena House is part of the Lucks’ property.
As part of the dedication, Brethren in Christ historian E. Morris Sider delivered a brief talk, “Remembering a Beginning,” in which he described the formation of the River Brethren community.
More information about the new marker can be found in the summer 2012 issue of the Newsletter of the Brethren in Christ Historical Society.