committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

 

A
RELIGIOUS ENCYCLOPÆDIA:
OR
DICTIONARY
OF
BIBLICAL, HISTORICAL, DOCTRINAL, AND PRACTICAL THEOLOGY.

BASED ON THE REAL-ENCYKLOPÄDIE OF HERZOG, PLITT AND HAUCK.

EDITED BY
PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D.,
Professor in the Union Theological Seminary, New York.

ASSOCIATE EDITORS:
REV. SAMUEL M. JACKSON AND REV. D. S. SCHAFF,

TOGETHER WITH AN
ENCYCLOPÆDIA OF LIVING DIVINES
AND
CHRISTIAN WORKERS
OF ALL DENOMINATIONS IN EUROPE AND AMERICA.

EDITED BY
REV. PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D.,
AND
REV. SAMUEL MACAULEY JACKSON, M.A.

THIRD EDITION       REVISED AND ENLARGED.
VOL. IV.


FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY,
1894.
TORONTO                                                             LONDON.
NEW YORK.



      WINEBRENNERIANS, the popular designation of a Baptist denomination officially called "The Church of God." The founder, the Rev. John Winebrenner, was a minister of the German Reformed Church; b. March 25, 1797, in Frederick County, Md.; d. Sept. 12, 1860, in Harrisburg, Penn. He was settled in 1820, in Harrisburg, over four congregations of the German Reformed Church,--one in town, and three in the country. Soon after his settlement a revival began in his churches, on account of which, as he wrote, he encountered much opposition from members and ministers of the synod. "This state of things," according to his own account, "lasted for the space of about five years, and then resulted in a separation from the German Reformed Church." This separation, which must have been in 1825, did not interrupt the revival. On the contrary, it spread, and there were "multitudes happily converted to God." These converts were organized into churches; and, as Mr. Winebrenner's views as to the nature of a scriptural ecclesiastical [2538] organization had meantime changed, these churches were formed as "spiritual, free, and independent churches." Ministers were raised up from among the converts; but until 1830 they co-operated with Mr. Winebrenner, without any definite practical system. The first congregation called "The Church of God" was organized in 1829; and in the following year the ministers met together, and agreed upon the principles upon which the new denomination should be based. Winebrenner was elected speaker (president) of the conference, and preached a sermon, in which he gave an outline of the faith and practice of New-Testament churches. Such churches should be formed, (1) of "believers only"; (2) "without sectarian or human name"; (3) "with no creed and discipline but the Bible"; (4) subject to no foreign jurisdiction (5) "they should be governed by their own officers, chosen by a majority of the members of each individual church." Thus originated the Annual Eldership, or Conference. There are now, chiefly in Pennsylvania and the West, fifteen annual elderships, besides a General Eldership (triennial), which adopts general legislation for the church, and controls its denominational activities and benevolences. The ministers, of whom there are four hundred and fifty, are called elders, and occupy stations, or itinerate in given districts under the control of their respective elderships, or travel as missionaries at large. The number of members is estimated at forty-five thousand. The church was organized by Germans, and the German element enters largely into the membership. One eldership is wholly German. The church holds in biblical language to the general doctrines of evangelical Christianity, but emphasizes the ordinances of baptism, the Lord's Supper, and feet-washing. These are "positive ordinances of perpetual standing in the church." Without faith and immersion, baptism is not valid. Feet-washing is "obligatory upon all Christians." The Lord's Supper should be "administered to Christians only, in a sitting posture, and always in the evening." The Church of God claims, that, as distinguished from other Protestant churches, it has a "special, precious, and glorious plea: it is the restoration of primitive Christianity in letter and spirit, in faith and practice." At Harrisburg, the church has a publishing-house. The Church Advocate is the weekly organ of the body, which has no colleges. Its relations with the Free Baptists have been very cordial, and its students have patronized Free-Baptist institutions. It has an academy at Barkeyville, Penn., and a college-building is in process of erection in Findlay, O.

      There are few denominational publications. Elder Winebrenner wrote a sketch of the denomination for Rupp's Religious Denominations, Philadelphia, 1844; but no denominational history has been written. Elder Winebrenner's Doctrinal and Practical Sermons are published by the Board of Publication, in Harrisburg, in a volume of upwards of four hundred pages, together with his treatise on Regeneration, a Revival Hymn-Book, The Reference and Pronouncing Testament. He was several times speaker of the General Eldership, and was for some years editor of The Church Advocate.

 
 
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