Our Denomination's Beginnings
The Church of the Brethren traces its roots back over 300 years to 1708. Eighteenth century Europe was a time of strong governmental control of the church and low tolerance for religious diversity. Nevertheless, there were religious dissenters who lived their faith in spite of the threat of persecution. Some of these dissenters found refuge in the town of Schwarzenau, Germany. Among them was Alexander Mack, a miller who had been influenced by both Pietism and Anabaptism.
In August 1708 five men and three women gathered at the Eder River in Schwarzenau for baptism, an illegal act since all had been baptized as infants. They understood this baptism as an outward symbol of their new faith and as a commitment to living that faith in community. An anonymous member of the group first baptized Mack. He, in turn, baptized the other seven. This new group simply called themselves “brethren.”
Coming to the New World
Due to growing persecution and economic hardship, Brethren began emigrating to North America in 1719 under the leadership of Peter Becker. Most Brethren left Europe by 1740, including Mack, who brought a group over in 1729. The first congregation in the New World was organized at Germantown, Pa., in 1723. Soon after its formation, the Germantown congregation sent missionaries to rural areas around Philadelphia. These missionaries preached, baptized, and started new congregations.
Brethren congregations met in homes until 1770 when the Germantown congregation built the first meetinghouse in America along what is now known as Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia. It was a thirty-foot-square stone building with a loft and basement. The basement provided a place to prepare the meal for love feast, and the loft provided places to sleep for those traveling long distances for love feast.
Learn more here. http://www.brethren.org/about/history.html
A Brief History of Our Lititz Congregation
The Lititz Church of the Brethren was organized as a separate congregation in January 1914 with 119 charter members. Prior to that time the local members west part of the West Conestoga congregation, which had houses of worship at Middle Creek, Akron, Lexington, Millport, Lanes, and Lititz.
The Lititz members worshiped in the small white edifice on Willow Street from 1914 to 1926, and in the church building on Center Street from 1926 to 1962. The first service in our present building was held on June 10, 1962. The ministry of the church through the years might be recorded as follows:
1914-1930 - Period of the Free Ministry
1930-1935 - Period of Part-time Pastors
1935 Beginning of Regular Pastoral Service