Evangelical United Brethren

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Two churches founded by German-speaking methodists in the U.S., namely, the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and the Evangelical Church, merged in 1946 to form the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB). In 1968, the EUB merged with the Methodist Church to form the united methodist church. Historically, both the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and the Evangelical Church originated in Pennsylvania in the early 19th century. Their founders preached an Arminian theology to the German immigrants in this area who were mainly Lutherans and Calvinists (see arminianism). Since the Methodist bishops refused to incorporate German-speaking congregations into their church, separate church organizations were established that closely paralleled methodism.

Philip William otterbein (17261813), a German Reformed minister, came to America in 1752. Along with a Swiss Mennonite preacher, Martin boehm (17251812), he conducted revivals in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. In 1774 Otterbein became pastor of an independent German congregation in Baltimore, Md. His and Boehm's converts were known as New Reformed German Methodists, or New Mennonites. A conference (1800) drew up plans for the new church, which adopted the name United Brethren in Christ in 1821. A minority seceded in 1889 to form the Church of the united brethren in Christ (Old Constitution).

The Evangelical Church was founded by Jacob albright (17591808) who left lutheranism to become a Methodist preacher. He began working among the Germans in Pennsylvania in 1796 and formed an evangelistic association in 1803. This body took more definite form after his death and became known as the Evangelical Association after 1816. Like the United Brethren Church the Evangelical Association underwent a schism. About 40 percent of the members left the main body in 1891, but most of the dissenters returned in 1922. A minority refused to rejoin the parent church and formed the Evangelical Congregational Church. The Evangelical Church served a membership of 250,000 at the time of its merger with the United Brethren in Christ in 1946.

The EUB was essentially Methodistic in doctrine, polity, and liturgy, but it also displayed traces of its Lutheran, Mennonite, and Reformed heritages. For many decades it limited its missionary work to German Americans, but the use of German in worship was curtailed during World War I.

[w. j. whalen/eds.]

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Evangelical United Brethren

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