Page 22 - Pictorial History of EUB Church by Glovier
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22 HISTORY OF THE VA CONFERENCE, E.U.B. CHURCH—D.F. GLOVIER

helps to bring out the progressive nature of what began as a movement and
gradually developed into a compact organization.

The UNITED BRETHREN movement was one of the results of the
revival period of 1750-1825. It was very hard to reform the old German
congregations and bring them to the NEW TESTAMENT standard of law
and order. Otterbein’s flock at Lancaster was disorderly, and like some others it
had been in the hands of incompetent pastors. The fathers of the UNITED
BRETHREN DENOMINATION were committed to the idea of a Spiritual
Church. They were not designedly “COME-OUTERS”. Yet they could not stay
in the church homes that had reared them, because of the narrow and
vituperative conservatism which could not brook any change in the old order
of things.

The followers of the new movement had not been known by any general
name. Such terms of “THE BRETHREN”, “THE UNSEC-TARIAN”, and
“THE LIBERTY PEOPLE” were applied to them. Still other designations
were the “NEW REFORMED” and the “NEW MENNONITES”. Sometimes
the names of the leaders would be used, and they would be styled
“OTTERBEIN’S PEOPLE”, or “BOEHM’S PEOPLE”. There were also semi-
independent groups of Mennonites, such as “LIGHT’S PEOPLE”, who
were drifting toward the new church. In 1820 Peter Cartwright speaks of a
tavern-keeper at Knox-ville, Tennessee, whom he calls an “OTTERBEIN
METHODIST”.

As a distinct church, the United Brethren sect begins with the meeting held
in September, 1800, at the house of Peter Kemp, two miles west of Frederick,
Maryland. Fourteen preachers appeared. Their two-day meeting did not call
itself a General Conference, although it exercised the functions of one. It
chose a name for the new denomination and it elected bishops.

It seems to have been easy for these men to agree on the name by
which the church has ever since been known. It was not enough to use the
simpler form of “United Brethren”, because this was already the official
name of the Moravian body. To avoid uncertainty, especially in matters that
might involve questions in law, the words “IN CHRIST” were added.

William Otterbein and Martin Boehm, who were already bishops in effect,
were now elected as such. Otterbein was now seventy-four years of age and
Boehm was seventy-five.

The first printed discipline says this of the first conference: “The preachers
were obliged to appoint an annual conference in order to unite themselves more
closely, and to labor more successfully in the vineyard of the Lord; for some
had been Presbyterian, or German Reformed, some Lutherans, and others
Mennonites.”
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