Page 18 - History of UB Church in Hburg Region
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History of U.B. Churches in Harrisonburg-Staunton Region December 26, 2013

Florida. Foreign Mission fields include Germany, Switzerland, Africa, China, Philippines, Puerto Rico,
South America, and Dominican Republic. In the mission fields we have schools, hospitals, homes for
the aged, a seminary, and about 400 churches with 70,255 members.

United Brethren in Virginia.2 As noted, the U.B, Church was an indigenous American Church,
born, in the wake of great evangelistic fervor in the Colonies. Some of its early adherents had been
members of Protestant groups transplanted from Europe. Others were converts with no prior church
connection. Particularly involved were Germans residing in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Central
Maryland, and the Shenandoah Valley who gathered frequently in “Great Meetings’ held in private
homes, barns, or the groves surrounding the barns.

Because Martin Boehm had established lasting contacts in the Shenandoah Valley before the
Pentecost meeting of 1767, United Brethrenism found support among the families of William Ambrose;
Henry and Christian Crum; Ludwig and Henry Duckwald; John, Jacob, and Christian Funkhouser;
George Hoffman; Jacob Lenz; Peter Myer; Abraham and Isaac Niswander; John Senseny; Henry
Tutwiler; and Peter Whitesell. It was probably at Peter Whitesell’s that the first U.B. Church building
(Whitesel’s U.B. Church) in Virginia was erected. Christian Newcomer, an itinerant with the group
from about the 1770s on and the third Bishop (elected in 1813, shortly before the death of Otterbein),
recorded in his journal no fewer than 115 preaching appointments in the Valley. Among them were
places in Winchester, Woodstock, New Market, Rockingham County, Shenandoah County,
Massanutten, Newtown, Mill Creek, Millerstown, Lynnville’s Creek, and Stoney Creek. Of interest in
the merger of the EUB Church with The Methodist Church in 1968, is that Newcomer shared a number
of preaching assignments in Virginia with Bishop Francis Asbury of the American Methodist
movement.

Despite the work of Boehm, Newcomer, and others, Virginia was always going to be on the
southeastern fringe of the U.B., and later the EUB, movement. One reason was that the growth of the
Denomination spread westward with the German migrations. Another was that early on, the U.B.
Church had adopted an anti-slavery stance that was to be a thorn in the side of many in the South. A
clue to the militancy of the antislavery movement is the action of Bishop J. J. Glossbrenner shortly
before the outbreak of the Civil War. He chastised his father-in-law for holding slaves and banned him
from church membership—this in spite of the fact that Christian Shuey had given to his son-in-law the
property on Middle River that was to launch him as a permanent landholder in Virginia. However,
when the Civil War cut off the Virginia branch of the U.B, Church, it was largely Bishop Glossbrenner
who held it together by making Virginia his home throughout the war,

2 From Bruce C. Souders, “Because of Shenandoah, A Church Was Built,” c. 1990, p. 3.

I.A.1 History of United Brethren 4
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