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History of U.B. Churches in Harrisonburg-Staunton Region December 26, 2013

3. Organization of United Brethren in Christ (1800-1887)

Conference Organization.3 The first death noted in U.B. Minutes was that of Dr. Peter Senseny
of Winchester in the Minutes of 1804. The first preachers to organize (“station”) preaching in Virginia
into circuits (“fields of labor”) were George Benedum and Christian Crum, who were directed “to call a
meeting of the Virginia preachers and arrange their fields of labor.” The first U.B. preachers to be
explicitly called “itinerants” were Joseph Hoffman and Christian Crum in 1806, although Conference
directed in 1805 that Christian Newcomer “travel through the German settlements in Maryland and
Pennsylvania, and Christian Crum in those of Virginia.” The first Conference held in Virginia was the
Conference of 1808, which was held at Abraham Niswander’s beginning May 28th (in this period,
Conference lasted 3 days).

In 1812 “Church work placed under the care of superintendents or elders, who were assigned
districts and authorized to hold small conferences on the circuits, whenever necessary.” Also in 1812,
Abraham Meyer4 and Henry G. Spayth were ordered to give attention to Virginia, Meyer to “assist in
holding two great meetings in Virginia” and Spayth to visit in November 1812. In 1814 Henry G.
Spayth was the first itinerant appointed to a circuit in Virginia (Rockingham Circuit)—since only two
itinerants were so appointed (John Snyder was the other, appointed to Hagerstown Circuit), the
assumption is that Spayth had responsibility for all of what is now Virginia.

In 1816 three Conference preachers were appointed as presiding elders for 2 years—Abraham
Meyer, Joseph Hoffman, and Jacob Baulus—without designation of place. In 1818 John Snyder and
Henry Kumler were so appointed (with no place designated), with the annotation, “Presiding elders
directed to keep an account of the moneys collected by the traveling preachers, and what was paid out to
them in settlement, report to Conference, and see that the settlement is recorded in the Minutes.”

In 1826 the districts of the Conference were the following: Virginia, Hagerstown, Carlisle,
Huntingdon, and Lancaster. In 1830 Conference was divided into two parts: Hagerstown (later
renamed Virginia) Conference and Hagerstown (later renamed Pennsylvania) Conference. The claim of
the Virginia Conference to be the “original” conference is based on the following remark in the 1830
Conference Minutes: “In future Hagerstown Conference shall have the old protocol [manuscript of the
Minutes] and Bro. Hansby shall procure a new book. Bro. [Bishop Henry] Kumler gave William Brown
two dollars for this purpose. He shall procure a book and transcribe from the old to the new all
proceedings of importance.” In the following, references to Conferences of 1831 or later are to the
Virginia Conference.

3 From the abstracts of Conference Minutes recorded in [Funkhouser 1921] and provided in full in Vol. 7 of this History
(at the end of each annual section).

4 Abraham Meyer died October 28, 1826, aged 69.

I.A.2 Brethren Confession of Faith 8
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