See BAPTISTS, II., 4 (g).


I. United Brethren in Christ (New Constitution).
Origin ( 1).
Organisation and Work ( 2).
II. United Brethren in Christ, Old Constitution.

I. United Brethren in Christ (New Constitution):

A denomination of Evangelical Christians, Arminian in doctrine, founded by Philip William Otterbein in the latter part of the eighteenth century.

1. Origin.

Otterbein came to America in 1752 as a missionary of the German Reformed Church. His first charge was at Lancaster, Penn., where he experienced what he regarded as his first real change of heart, and his


ministry thenceforward assumed a deeply spiritual character. He began to hold frequent evangelistic services and instituted special prayer and experience meetings. In pursuing his evangelistic labors, he made numerous visits to places near and remote, often conducted largely attended open-air meetings, and invited to a hearty cooperation all spiritually-minded persons of whatever name or church. His labors resulted in the organization of numerous societies of converts, who, because of their warmer and more earnest spiritual life, frequently found it difficult to remain in harmonious connection with their parent churches. To supply these people with the ministration of the word, Otterbein appointed or approved for them teachers, who visited them at irregular intervals, expounded to them the Gospel, and encouraged them to continue faithful in their religious life. As the work extended, it became necessary to devise a regular system of supply; and conferences of ministers, chiefly for this purpose, began to be held. Finally, in 1800, at one of these conferences, these scattered societies were organized into one body; and the name "United Brethren in Christ" was adopted as the official title of the denomination thus formed. Otterbein and Martin Boehm, a Mennonite, were chosen bishops. The people thus organized spoke at that time almost exclusively the German language; at the present time that language is used by less than four per cent. of the congregations.

2. Organization and Work.

The government of the church is vested primarily in a general conference, holding quadrennial sessions. The power of the church is in its laity. The delegates are ministers and laymen in equal proportions, women being eligible since 1893, all chosen by popular vote. There are also annual conferences, whose powers are chiefly executive, in which each pastoral charge is entitled to one lay representative. The bishops are elected by the general conference quadrennially, as are also the editors, publishing-house manager, and the several general boards with their executive officers. Ministers are appointed to their charges by a stationing committee for one year, appointments being renewable indefinitely. Presiding elders, elected by their respective conferences, have general supervision over districts or subdivisions of the annual conferences. A home, frontier, and foreign missionary society was organized in 1853; a woman's missionary board in 1875. The general conference of 1905 separated the home and foreign work, creating a board for each. The foreign missions of the church, begun in western Africa in 1855, have since extended to China, Japan, Porto Rico, and the Philippines. The number of missionaries in 1911 was 61, with 141 native preachers and teachers, with 55 in training for Christian work; communicants, 4,335; catechumens and adherents, 11,607. The aggregate funds contributed for the foreign work are something over $1,250,000; for the home work, $1,800,000. A general Sunday-school board was organized by the general conference in 1865, and a church-erection society and a general education board in 1869. On questions of reform, such as temperance and slavery, the historical attitude of the church has been that of strong radicalism, its position concerning slavery having prevented any considerable extension in the southern states before the war.

The denomination has ten colleges and one theological seminary (at Dayton, O.) with over 3,500 students, 65 of whom are in the theological seminary. The total membership in 1911 was 290,516; there were 2,030 itinerant ministers and 475 local ministers; the number enrolled in Sunday-schools was over 360,000. The denomination is found chiefly in Pennsylvania, Maryland, northern Virginia, western New York, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas, but extends westward in nearly parallel lines to the Pacific coast and in recent years has entered a number of the southern states. The publishing-house at Dayton, O., issues twenty-six weekly, monthly, semimonthly, and quarterly periodicals, with an aggregate average circulation for the year ending Apr. 1, 1911, of 525,250 copies.

II. United Brethren in Christ, Old Constitution:

The general conference of the United Brethren in Christ in 1885 took measures for revising the confession of faith and amending the constitution of the church. A commission consisting of the six bishops and twenty-seven ministers and laymen was appointed to formulate the proposed changes and additions and submit them to popular vote. The result was overwhelmingly in favor of the several measures, and at the next general conference in 1889 this result was declared by the presiding bishops, with the announcement that thenceforth the conference would transact business under the amended constitution and the revised confession of faith. Fourteen delegates, with one bishop, then withdrew from the conference, and proceeded to hold the "General Conference of and for the United Brethren in Christ," elsewhere in the same city, electing general officers and boards, and transacting such other business as would pertain to a general conference. Under the claim that they with their followers were the true church of the United Brethren in Christ, they held that the rightful ownership of the property of the denomination belonged to them. Yearn of litigation followed, resulting finally in defeat in the courts. This organization had at its beginning a following of between 15,000 and 20,000. Its year-book shows a membership of 18,317, with 304 itinerant and 75 local ministers. The Sunday-school enrolment is 19,386 scholars. The church has three collegiate institutions, a home and foreign missionary society, and a woman's missionary board, with missions in West Africa. Its publishing-house is located at Huntington, Ind., and it issues a church weekly, a missionary monthly, Sunday-school literature, and other publications. The doctrinal standards and the general polity are essentially the same as those of the United Brethren in Christ.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: A good list of literature is prefixed to D. Berger. Hist. of the United Brethren in Christ, in American Church History Series, xii. 310-314, New York, 1897, cf. Berger's work with same title, Dayton. Ohio, 1897. Consult besides the above: H. G. Spayth, Hist. of the Church of the United Brethren, Circleville, Ohio, 1881; J. Lawrence,


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