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THE UNITED BRETHREN IN CHRIST
By Rev. J. L. Coudon.


The society known as the United Brethen in Christ, was founded in America by Philip William 
Otterbein. about the year 1774. Mr. Otterbein was a native of Germany, brought up under the 
influence of the German Reformed Church. He graduated  in his native country, in literature 
and theology, and came to America after he was ordained a minister of the gospel. When he 
began his pastoral labors, his religion was formal, until at one of his meetings an awakened 
sinner came to him for advice in reference to his salvation.  This circumstance led the 
preacher to self examination, by which he learned that he lacked the spirituality of religion. 
Under this impression he sought, and found God's pardoning mercy in the regeneration of his 
soul. He then was prepared to impart proper instructions to those who came to him for advice
inreference to the new life in Christ and was enabled to preach the gospel in its purity. He 
was present at the ordination of Mr. Asbury, the first bishop of the M.E. Church, in America, 
and indeed assisted in his ordination. Asbury and Otterbein, were were intimate friends. The 
services of the U.B. Church fot the first fufty years, were exclusively in the German language; 
hence the the progress of the church was very much retarded, as the majority of the people 
spoke and read the English language.  Since that time services have been conducted in both 
languages, with a marked difference in the progress of the church. The founder of this church,
and those associated with him in forming a church government, looked  upon slavery as a sin 
against God and humanity, and consequently passed a law, prohibiting, the reception of any 
person holding slaves, or in any way connected with slavery, into church fellowship. The also 
considered oath bound secrecy as being a violation of the law of God, and passed a law which
forbids the reception into membership of all persons belonging to secret societies. This church 
has now about 160,000 members in its communion. It has a publishing house and book room in 
Dayton, Ohio; besides the publication of books, it publishes a sixteen page paper, weekly, 
called  the "Religious Telescope."  It has about 13,000 circulation. There is also a weekly 
paper published in the German language, two Sabbath-school papers, and a paper published in the
interest of the frontier and foreign missionary society of the church. there is also a magazine
published by the Women's Missionary Society. This church has done much toward the advancement of
civilization and transfusion of knowledge, and its influence upon the polygamy and slavery has 
been felt. It has one native born African, who was educated in this country and ordained a 
minister of the gospel. He married in Dayton, Ohio, and was sent to teach and preach to his 
people, where he is doing a  good work.The church has 49 annual conferences besides two district
conferences, one in Africa and one in Germany. It also has nine colleges, and a number of 
seminaries and academies.

The denomination has a house of worship in this county, situated  about two and a half miles 
south-west of Farmer City, which was erected under the administration of Rev. John Blake, who 
was placed in charge of what is now Farmer City circuit. He served the charge two years. The 
building is frame, 30x40 feet, and a cost about $1,500, The first trustees were John Jones,
Andrew J. Kreps, W.P. Riggs, Preston Jones and Samuel Johnson, John Jones, an old and much 
respected Christian gentleman, and one of the first trustees, still living. the church was 
dedicated with the usual ceremony, by Bishop David Edwards, who died a few years ago in the 
city of Baltimore.  There are about five acres of land belonging to the church property, and a
neat and convenient parsonage stands on the west end of the lot, and a cemetery just north of 
the church. The society was first organized east of its present location under the administration
of Rev. M.T. Chew. Among the first members were Esquire H.K. Gillespie and wife, William Lake 
and wife, John Johnson and wife, Mary Thomas and others. They first  worshipped in a school 
house for a few years until  Greenleaf chapel was erected. Rev. Chew was succeeded by Rev. 
George Wenner, who was successful, and added considerably to the membership. Rev. H. Stoddard 
served the charge one year after which Rev. F. Gorslin was appointed, and the charge has since 
been served alternately by Rev's.Washington Crandle, Joel  Corley James Herbert, William 
Turguson, J. Blake, D. McLean, Peter Flack, D.H. Gobin, F.P. Peas, and C. C. Bruner. The 
following ministers have served the charge as elders.  Revs. J.C. Ross, M. Ambrose, S.P. Hoy, 
A.B. Pomel, Issac Kietzinger, A.L. Best, and W.W. Knipple. there at present forty-six members, 
with William P. Riggs, class leader, and John Johnson, class steward, Rev.A. B. Pomel,
presiding elder, and the writer of this sketch, pastor.

There is another class about six miles west of Farmer City, calles the Vance class, and was so 
named from the fact that it holds its services in the wood school-house. this society was 
organized by Rev. William Turguson, in the year 1863, and is a part od Farmer City circuit, and 
was served by the ministers above, It has about twenty members. (*for data on church of Farmer 
City, we are indebted to W.W. Alder.)  END:
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