Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 597 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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UNITED BRETHREN IN CHRIST,' an American religious sect which originated in the last part of the 18th century under the leadership of Philip William Otterbein (1726-1813), pastor of the Second Reformed Church in Baltimore, and Martin Boehm (172 1812), a Pennsylvanian Mennonite of Swiss descent. Otterbein and Boehm licensed some of their followers to preach and did a great work, especially through class-meetings of a Wesleyan type;2 in 1789 they held a formal conference at Baltimore, and in 1800, at a conference near Frederick City, Maryland, the Church was organized under its present name, and Otterbein and Boehm were chosen its first bishops or superintendents. The ecclesiastical polity of the Church is Wesleyan and its theology is Arminian: there is no hard-and-fast rule about baptism. Bishops are elected for four years. The first delegated general conference met at Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, in 1815, and adopted a confession of faith, rules of order and a book of discipline, which were revised in 1885-1889, when women were first admitted to ordination, and when the Conservatives, protesting against the new constitution, withdrew and formed the body now commonly known as the United Brethren in Christ " of the Old Constitution." The Liberal branch had 3732 organizations in 1906 with a total membership of 274,649. This body carries on missions in West Africa (since 1855), Japan, China, the Philippines and Porto Rico. It has a publishing house (1834) and Bonebrake Theological Seminary (1871) at Dayton, Ohio; and supports Otterbein University (1847) at Westerville, O.; Westfield Colleg . (1865) at Westfield, Illinois; Leander Clark College (1857) at Toledo, Iowa; York College (189o) at York, Nebraska; Philomath College (1867) at Philomath, Oregon ; Lebanon Valley College (1867) at Annville, Pa.; Campbell College (1864) at Holton, Kansas, and Central University (1907) at Indianapolis, Indiana. The " Old Constitution " body had 572 organizations in 1906 with a total membership of 21,401. It has a publishing house at Hunting-ton, Indiana. See D. Berger, History of the Church of the United Brethren (1897), and his sketch (1894) in vol xii. of the " American Church History Series "; E. L. Shuey, Handbook of the United Brethren in Christ (1893) ; W. J. Shuey, Year-Book of the United Brethren in Christ (from 1867); and A. W. Drury, Life of Philip William Otterbein (1884).

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