Page 16 - History of UB Church in Hburg Region
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History of U.B. Churches in Harrisonburg-Staunton Region December 26, 2013

great leaders in the founding; of our Church worthy of mention are George A. Geeting, Christian
Newcomer and Peter Kemp. [A more detailed history of these and other early church leaders is
provided at the beginning of Vol. 5 of this History.]

The church grew and the missionary zeal and vision was carried into Virginia, across the
Allegheny Mountains into Western Pennsylvania and Ohio, and wherever German people migrated.
This group used the German language altogether, and this was the only thing that kept the United
Brethren and Methodists from uniting on many occasions. As the English language became the popular
one, the Methodist outgrew our church. Many of our preachers’ sons and other young men who entered
the ministry, went with the Methodists because they preferred the use of the English language. Some of
our churches used German language until 1916 when national conditions forced out the use of the
German language (except in some Lutheran churches).

At the last General Conference of the United Brethren Church in 1945, the denomination had
grown to 455,000 members, with five bishops, 28 conferences, one theological seminary, five colleges,
two orphanages and three homes for the aged. Its foreign mission fields included work in Africa,
Philippines, China, Puerto Rico, Santa Domingo and Japan. The home mission work included New
Mexico and Barnett’s Creek, Kentucky.

The Evangelical Church’s founder was Jacob Albright. He settled on a farm in Pennsylvania
after the Revolutionary War. But he was not satisfied with his spiritual condition and about the way
people lived in sin around him. On July 31, 1791, he attended a prayer meeting in the home of Adam
Riegel, a lay follower of the United Brethren movement. Here he saw the light and his life overflowed
with the grace of God. Soon after this he united with the Methodist Church and in 1796 became a
licensed lay exhorter. He began missionary preaching among the German people. He would go on
preaching tours and be gone for such lengths of time that the Methodist Church dropped him from its

Albright drew little classes of fellowship, until by 1800 there were many organized classes. On
November 3, 1803, the first council was held. In 1807 the name, “The Newly Formed Methodist
Conference,” was adopted and Jacob Albright was selected an “overseer” or bishop. His life and
ministry was brief, as premature death came in 1808. His group continued to work and grow among the
German people, since the Methodist did not minister to the German speakers. Many times this new
group was working side by side or very near where the United Brethren were working with the German-
speaking people. In 1809 the first Discipline appeared, and in 1816 the first General Conference was
held in the Eyer barn at Winfield, Pa., which adopted the name, “The Evangelical Association.” Their
first church building was dedicated at New Berlin, Pa., March 2, 1817. Major steps in the history of the
United Brethren and the Evangelical Church are indicated by the chart on the next page (Figure 1), taken
from Behney and Eller [Behney 1979, p.18].

I.A.1 History of United Brethren 2
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