The Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB) was an American Protestant church which was formed in 1946 by the merger of the Evangelical Church with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (not to be confused with the current Church of the United Brethren in Christ (Old Constitution)). The United Brethren and the Evangelical Association had considered merging since the early nineteenth century because of their common emphasis on holiness and evangelism and German heritage.
The Evangelical United Brethren subsequently merged with the Methodist Church in 1968 to form the United Methodist Church. The EUB congregations in Canada joined into the United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant denomination in Canada formed in 1925 by Presbyterians (70% came in), Methodists, and Congregationalists. In the Philippines, the EUB congregations joined the Philippine Methodist Church, Christian Church (Disciples), Presbyterian Church, Congregational Church, Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Cristo, Iglesia Evangelica Nacional and some segments of the Iglesia Evangelica Metodista En Las Islas Filipinas (IEMELIF) to formed the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
United Brethren in Christ
United Brethren In Christ was 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 (1725–1812), a PennsylvanianMennonite 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; 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.
In 1889, a controversy over membership in secret societies, such as the Freemasons, the proper way to modify the church’s constitution, and other issues split the United Brethren into majority liberal and minority conservative blocs, the latter of which was led by Bishop Milton Wright (father of the Wright Brothers). The minority withdrew and formed the body initially known as the United Brethren in Christ of the Old Constitution, now called the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.
The Liberal branch had 3,732 organizations in 1906 with a total membership of 274,649. This body carried on missions in West Africa (since 1855), Japan, China, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. It had a publishing house (1834) and Bonebrake Theological Seminary (1871) at Dayton, Ohio; and supported Otterbein University (1847) at Westerville, Ohio; Westfield College (1865) at Westfield, Illinois; Leander Clark College(1857) at Toledo, Iowa; York College (1890) at York, Nebraska; Philomath College (1867) at Philomath, Oregon; Lebanon Valley College (1867) at Annville, Pennsylvania; Campbell College (1864) at Holton, Kansas, and Indiana Central College (later Indiana Central University and now the University of Indianapolis) (1907) at Indianapolis, Indiana.
The majority faction merged with the Evangelical Church in 1946 to form a new denomination known as the Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB). This in turn merged in 1968 with The Methodist Church to form the United Methodist Church (UMC).
United Brethren History
Though not organized until 1800, the roots of the church reach back to 1767. In May of that year, a Great Meeting (part of aninterdenominational revival movement) was held at a barn belonging to Isaac Long in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Martin Boehm (1725–1812), aMennonite preacher, spoke of his becoming a Christian through crying out to God while plowing in the field. Philip William Otterbein (1726–1813), a Reformed pastor at York, Pennsylvania, left his seat, embraced Boehm and said to him, “Wir sind Brüder (we are brethren)”. The followers of Boehm and Otterbein formed a loose movement for many years. It spread to include German-speaking churches in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio. In 1800, they began a yearly conference. Thirteen ministers attended the first conference at the home of Peter Kemp in Frederick, Maryland. At that conference in 1800, they adopted a name, the United Brethren in Christ, and elected Boehm and Otterbein as bishops of the conference. The United Brethren Church claims this organization in 1800 as the first denomination to actually begin in the United States. A Confession of Faith was adopted in 1815 (similar to one written by Otterbein in 1789), and it has remained the statement of church doctrine to the present. In 1841, they adopted a Constitution. It has remained mostly intact, being changed only a few times.
The United Brethren took a strong stand against slavery, beginning around 1820. After 1837, slave owners were no longer allowed to remain as members of the United Brethren Church. In 1853, the Home, Frontier, and Foreign Missionary Society was organized.
Expansion occurred into the western United States, but the church’s stance against slavery limited expansion to the south. By 1889, the United Brethren had grown to over 200,000 members with six bishops. In that same year they experienced a division. Denominational leaders desired to make three changes: to give local conferences proportional representation at the General Conference; to allow laymen to serve as delegates to General Conference; and to allow United Brethren members to hold membership in secret societies. The denominational leadership made these changes, but the minority felt the changes violated the constitution because they were not made by the majority vote of all United Brethren members. One of the bishops, Milton Wright (the father of aviation pioneers Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright), disagreed with the actions of the majority. Bishop Wright and other conference delegates left the meeting and resumed the session elsewhere. They believed that the other delegates had violated the Constitution (and, in effect, withdrawn from the denomination), and deemed themselves to be the true United Brethren Church.
Until 1946 two groups operated under the name Church of the United Brethren in Christ, though the minority was known as the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (Old Constitution). In 1946, the larger United Brethren branch merged with the Evangelical Church to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church. In the same year, with cooperation of three other denominations, it formed the United Andean Indian Mission, an agency that sent missionaries to Ecuador. The Evangelical United Brethren Church in turn merged with the Methodist Church in 1968 to form The United Methodist Church. The present United Brethren Church is descended from the minority who organized under the leadership of Bishop Milton Wright.