Page 9 - History of UB Church by A. Funkhouser Ver 1
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upheld than was the usual custom in Protestant lands. It is due to this circumstance that William
Otterbein became the primary founder of a church that is Arminian in its theology.

It was a German custom for the graduate, if a candidate for the ministry, to demonstrate his
fitness to teach before he could receive ordination. He was expected to serve this apprenticeship by
being a "house-teacher" in some well-to-do family. In accordance with this custom William
Otterbein took up the work of tutoring, but when not quite twenty-two years of age was made an
instructor in the very school where he had been educated. One year later,— June 13, 1749,—he
was ordained to the ministry in the Reformed church of Dillenburg, which was the only house to
worship in the town. He had already been appointed vicar,—assistant preacher,—in a small village
near by. Rut although now a minister he did not cease to teach. His ministerial duties required him
to preach every Sunday, and occasionally on other days, and to hold a prayer meeting once each
week. The prayer meeting was then rare in Germany. It is still rare, although we hear of the "Bible
hour" among groups of South Germans in whom the religious feeling is particularly strong. During
the four years of pastoral work in his mother country, Otterbein laid great stress on a pure life and
an active religious spirit. This aroused some opposition among the worldly-minded church-goers,
and there was an unsuccessful attempt to muzzle his speech. His mother said the home town was
too narrow for one like him and that he would have to become a missionary.

The Dutch Reformed and the German Reformed denominations are sister churches. Aside from
the more rigid Calvinism of the former, and the fact that the one arose in Holland and the other in
Germany, there is no well marked distinction between them. The Dutch Reformed Church was the
first to appear in America for the simple reason that New York was at first a Dutch colony and sent
emigrants across the Atlantic before any came from Germany. Holland was then wealthy, while
Germany was poor. The smaller country was therefore the better able to contribute to the
missionary work so greatly needed at this time in America. In addition to their direct contributions,
the people of Holland created a fund of $60,000,—fully equal to $500,000 at the date of this book,
—the income from which was applied to missionary activities beyond the Atlantic. It is much to the
credit of the Hollanders in that intolerant age that they were willing to come to the relief of the
sister church.

In 1746 Michael Schlatter, a native of Switzerland and a young man of zeal and enthusiasm,
arrived in America. He came to visit the various settlements, and there organize societies, secure
pastors when possible, baptize children, administer the Lord's Supper, and prepare church records.
In effect, he was a bishop. After five years he returned to Holland to make a personal report and
ask further assistance, both in missionaries and money. In carrying out this errand he came to
Herborn, the home of the Otterbeins, and there secured five helpers, one of whom was William.
The mother did not withhold her consent, even in the face of the strong probability that she would
never see him again in this life. So he went away with her blessing and arrived at New York July
28, 1752. However, a bronchial ailment had something to do with his leaving Germany. It was
thought the American climate would prove beneficial. This seems to have been the result, for
William Otterbein reached a greater age than any of his brothers, although there was at times a
recurrence of the trouble.

About one month after reaching America Otterbein was installed as pastor of the German
Reformed Church at Lancaster, then a thrifty Pennsylvania town of 2,000 inhabitants. In
importance this congregation ranked second among the Reformed churches in the colonies. But
discipline and spirituality were at a low ebb. In 1757 he asked to be relieved but consented to
remain another year on condition that the rules of order which he drew up should be adopted.
These rules were signed by eighty of the male members of the church, and were so salutary that
they remained in force till about 1830. That Otterbein did not toil at Lancaster in vain is further
evident in the fact that this city remains a stronghold of the Reformed Church and is the seat of
one of its foremost collegiate institutions. Furthermore, the small wooden house of worship was
superseded during his ministry by a massive stone building, used as such for almost a century.

It was during this pastorate that there was a turning-point in the character and effect of
Otterbein's preaching.

In the state-supported churches of that age, religion was viewed as a form of intellectual
education. If an adult had learned the catechism, had been confirmed, and partook at stated times
of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and, if furthermore, his general deportment presented no

9 William Otterbein & German Reformed Church
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