Page 24 - History of UB Church in Hburg Region
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History of U.B. Churches in Harrisonburg-Staunton Region December 26, 2013

superannuated members,” which eventually led to a benevolent society and funding for missionary
salary appropriations and pensions.

Bishops, Elders and Sacramental Meetings. Bishops were elected by the preachers who were

members of Conference, and they were reelected (or not) every 4 or 5 years. Indeed, William Otterbein
and Martin Boehm were elected bishops in 1800 and reelected in 1805. Preachers who were ordained8
(“set apart”) by the bishop (“the Superintendent”) for Christian ministry were called elders. Elders
were, by their ordination, granted the privilege of the sacraments (“the ordinances”): baptizing (children

and adults) and administering communion. Other preachers (whether members of the Conference or

not) were allowed to preach or exhort but not (generally) to provide the sacraments. Thus, communities

of United Brethren (and Methodists, as they were guided by essentially the same rules in their Book of

Discipline) would not receive the sacraments until an elder could visit a preaching place within reach of

the community. The first ordination explicitly noted in Conference Minutes was the following record in
1802: “Ludwig Duckwald and John Neidig authorized to ‘administer all the ordinances of the house of
God, according to the Scriptures.’” This understanding gives special meaning to the note in 1804:
“Otterbein preached twice at a sacramental meeting in the Guething [Geeting] Meeting House.” In 1810
Jacob Winter and Peter Swartz were “licensed to preach,” and Joseph Jordan and Michael Hershey were
“licensed to exhort.”

Itinerants and Other Preachers. Some preachers were clearly identified as itinerant,
commissioned to travel to various communities. The first U.B. itinerants, as noted, were Joseph
Hoffman and Christian Crum. But many preachers worked from their homes and conducted worship in
the local area where invited. Such was probably the case of Dr. Peter Senseny of Winchester. Members
of the Conference not yet ordained were granted Conference License to Preach. Other preachers were
granted Conference License to Exhort. However, since the Annual Conference met hundreds of miles
from the home of some preachers, attending Conference was impractical for many. Thus, in 1808,
Conference adopted a more flexible policy: “Hitherto, the Annual Conference had granted license to
exhort. The following rule adopted, the great distances to be traveled on horseback often preventing the
attendance of members: ‘Those who desire to receive license to preach among us shall be examined at a
great meeting; and, if favorably reported, two of the elders shall grant them license for one year, at the

8 Apparently there were no ordinations during the first 15 years of U.B. history. Indeed, [Funkhouser 1921] states that The
following a recorded roll of all the ministers of the church, who up to this date were authorized “to administer all the
ordinances of the house of God.” None were ordained. The authorization had been at some great meeting, or a

conference to administer the sacraments: William Otterbein, Christian Newcomer, Christopher Grosh, John Neidig,

Christian Hershey, Isaac Niswander, Peter Kemp, Martin Boehm, Christian Crum, Abraham Draksel, David Long,

Abraham Meyer, Daniel Troyer, Adam Riegel, George A. Guething. John Hershey, Ludwig Duckwald, Abraham

Hershey, William Ambrose, George Benedum, Frederick Schaeffer, Joseph Hoffman, David Snyder, David Gingerich,

Christian Smith, Christian Berger. The list includes the two bishops and many well-known preachers. The first
ordinations recorded in Conference Minutes were in 1816: “Ordained: Henry Kumler, George Geeting, George
Hoffman, Peter Swartz.” [Funkhouser 1921] Note: The death of George A. Guething was reported in 1812.

I.A.2 Brethren Confession of Faith 10
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