UNITED BRETHREN IN CHRIST, a church formed in 1760 among the Germans in Pennsylvania, by Philip William Otterbein, sent to America by the synod of Holland as a missionary. This church has often been confounded with the Moravians, with whom, however, it has no ecclesiastical connection. Otterbein commenced his labors at Lancaster, Penn., but removed to other places, and finally to Baltimore. He was a man of fervent piety, a remarkably effective preacher, and had great influence with the peo ple. He held union-meetings, often in the woods, which were continued for several days. To one of these he invited all who had experienced a change of heart. Many came, among whom were Lutherans, Reformers, Mennonites, Moravians, and others. A Mennonite preacher—Martin Boehm—professing to have experienced what he called the new life, was present, and preached with great power. At the close of his sermon Mr. Otterbein embraced him, and said: "We are brethren." This was the origin of their name. These two labored together for 50 years, and as their converts multiplied and needed ministers, laymen were licensed to preach, and soon annual conferences were appointed for examining, licensing, and directing them in their work. The first annual
conference was in 1800 at Baltimore; the first general conference, 1815. In 1875, 43 annual conferences, 4,010 churches, 1967 ministers, 136,076 members, were reported.
This church has 10 educational institutions in several western states. It has at Dayton, Ohio, a large printing establishment, which issues a number of periodicals and a variety of books in German and English. It has quarterly, annual, and general conferences, of which the latter is the highest, and meets quadrennially. Lay-delegates have been members since 1873. Bishops are elected for four years. No slave-holder, or member of secret society, or any one who manufactures, sells, or drinks intoxicating liquor is admitted to the church. Baptism is administered in the mode which the candidate pre fers. Infant baptism is' racticed. The theology of the United brethren is Arminian. Their service, formerly in German only, is now also in English. They have foreign missions in Germany and Africa.