Feature Story June, 2007


       I do not wish to assume that this is a history of the Church of the Brethren in Christ, but just a few facts of just how the United Brethren Church came to be, who was responsible for organizing the church and it's progress since it's founding, and the church's growth in West Virginia.

PHILIP WILLIAM OTTERBEIN was born June 1726 in the town of Dillenburg, in the duchy of Nassau, now known as Wiesbaden, Germany. The Otterbein family had come to Dillenburg in 1650. Philip's grandfather and father, John Daniel Otterbein, were both ministers in the German Reformed Church and his father was also a teacher in the Reform Latin School, where Philip received his education. His mother was Willelmina Henrietta, daughter of John Jacob Hoerlen. After Philip received his formal education he taught for a short time before he was ordained in the old church at Dillenburg on June 13, 1749.
       At this time the emigration of Germans was increasing by large numbers to the American colonies of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, and it was recognized by church authorities that the German Reform Church must send missionaries to minister to the needs of the growing German Speaking population along with the Lutherans and Mennonites.
       The Rev. Michael Schlatter had gone to America in 1746 to asses the need for more ministers and upon his return to Europe in 1751 he requested and received five young Reform ministers of which Rev. Philip William Otterbein was one. They arrived in New York late on the 28th of July, 1752. Rev. Otterbein considered a very apt and devout minister preached in and around the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area for several years in the normal orthodox manner of the Reform church, but always felt something was missing, and he thought it was his need to return to Germany, but one thing or another always prevented him from returning home. He met and married Susan LeRoy, on April 19, 1762. He and Susan were married or only six years for Susan died in April 1768.
       Rev. Otterbein did get to return to Germany for a visit in 1770, but returned to his church in Pennsylvania in a little over a year. After his return it was noticed by church authorities and was formally critized by them in persistence to deviate form church policy in holding prayer meetings and kneeling in prayer at these meetings which he held both during the weekdays and evenings. The Reform Church services were structured and it was considered wrong to deviate in any way at all. After this Rev. Otterbein began going out to areas in which there was no organized reform Church, and ministering to the settlers.

MARTIN BOEHM's grandfather, Jacob Boehm lived in Switzerland, he married and reared his family in the Reform Church. His son, Jacob sided with the Pietist (anti-orthodox in the Lutheran Church) and Jacob was denounced by the Reform Church and convicted of heresy. He escaped and went to Germany where he became associated with the followers of Menno Simonis, known as Mennonites. He married and reared his family in the Mennonite Church and his second son, also named Jacob, came to America in 1715.
       Jacob married Miss Kendig shortly after coming to Pennsylvania. Their youngest child, the subject of this essay was born November 30, 1725.
       What little education Martin received was in the home and the Mennonite Church. Martin was married to Eve Steiner in 1753 and was chosen, as was the custom by lot to become a minister in the Mennonite Church in 1758.
       At first Rev. Boehm had a very difficult time, for he could not express himself and was very reluctant to speak in the meetings until one day he received the Holy Spirit while he was kneeling in prayer in a plowed field.
       After Rev. Boehm was appointed bishop in the Mennonite Church he was called to Virginia to minister to the Mennonites who had moved south and were being subjected to other denominations. As time passed Bishop Boehm' preaching was running parallel to the preaching of Rev. Otterbein.

Otterbein and Boehm Meet

       Each of these men after a special baptism of the Holy Spirit, began to preach, with greatly increased definiteness relating to a conscious salvation in Christ; and also that, with the new spiritual fervor that burned in their hearts, they felt themselves impelled to go beyond the limits of their own parish boundaries that they might proclaim a clearer light and a precious present salvation to others of their brethren.
       Rev. Otterbein and Rev. Boehm exhibited much activity in wider preaching of the word, and the meeting of which the two met was by divine chance. They met in the mid 1760's at a meeting in the barn of Mr. Isaac Land in Lancaster County, at which Rev. Boehm preached and Rev. Otterbein sat and listened. Rev. Boehm's sermon was so inspiring that before he could sit down Rev. Otterbein arose and with a heart filled to overflowing, cast his arms about Rev. Boehm in warm embrace, and exclaimed, "Wir sind Bruder"..We are Brethern..
       The participants in this meeting were Mennonites, Reformed, Lutherans, and others, all moved by the same Holy Spirit. Even though it was several years before the Church of The Brethren in Christ was formed this meeting was said to have formed a union, with some simple but definite conditions as its basis.


       It wasn't until May 4, 1774 when Rev. Otterbein came to Baltimore and began to organize a church that the foundation of the United Brethren in Christ began to form. It wasn't until Jan.1, 1785 the rules and constitution was drawn up and signed by William Otterbein, Preacher, that the new Church was born, although it wasn't until 1789 when the first formal conference of the Church of the Brethren in Christ was held that the organization was completed. The church was not formally named, and the name adopted until the 1800 conference.
       Five articles originally written in German and later translated to English, were not part of the original draft at the conference, although they helped form the foundation on which the later church was to build and grow. They were as follows:

The Doctrine of the United Brethren in Christ

ART. I. In the name of God we confess before all men, that we believe in the only true God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; that these three are one; the Father in the Son, the Son in the Father, and the Holy Ghost equal in essence with both; that this God created heaven and earth and all that in them is, visible as well as invisible, and sustains, governs, protects, and supports the same.
ART. II. We believe in Jesus Christ; that he is very God and men, Saviour and Redeemer of the whole world; that all men through him may be saved if they will; that this Jesus suffered for us; that he died and was buried, rose on the third day, ascended into heaven, and that he will come again, at the last day, to judge the living and the dead.
ART. III. We believe in the Holy Ghost; that he proceeds from the Father and the Son; that we through him must be sanctified and receive faith, thereby being cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
ART. IV. We believe that the Bible is the word of God; that it contains the true way to our souls; well-being and salvation; that every true Christian is bound to acknowledge and receive it, with the influences of the Spirit of God, as his only rule and guide; and that without repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sins, and following after Jesus Christ, no one can be a true Christian.
ART. V. We believe that the doctrine which the Holy Scriptures contain, namely, the fall in Adam and salvation through Jesus Christ, shall be preached and proclaimed throughout the whole world.
       We recommend that the outward signs and ordinances, namely baptism and the remembrance of the Lord in distribution of the bread and wine, be observed; also the washing of feet, where the same is desired.
       It appears the major language used in the Church of the Brethren in Christ was German until sometime after Bishop Otterbein's death on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 1813, at age eighty seven.
       The Church of the Brethren in Christ grew steadily and gradually moved west as settlements became larger west of the mountains in the area we know now as West Virginia.
       The area covered by the later West Virginia Conference, Church of the United Brethren in Christ, was settled by many folks from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, among whom were a number who were communicants of our denomination.
       Early conferences of the denomination that had something to do with the area of the West Virginia Conference, before its organization as the Parkersburg Annual Conference in 1858, where the Muskingum Conference through its Washington County Missionary Society that did some good work along the Ohio River in early days and at the organization of our conference gave our conference treasurer $98.51; the Scioto Conference which supervised the work in the western part our conference area for ten years and the Virginia Conference which had control over the area occupied by our conference the greater part of the time prior to 1858 and it is said paid a missionary appropriation of $50.00 to the California Mission in 1857.
       The West Virginia Annual Conference is a result of two sections of territories in which our early pioneer ministers organized societies, one along the Ohio River in Tyler, Wood, Jackson, Mason, and Cabell counties and the other in central West Virginia including Harrison, Braxton, Tucker, Lewis, Barbour, Upshur, Ritchie, Gilmer, and other counties.


       It was on August 20, 1836, Rev. Jacob Rinehart, Presiding Elder and Rev. Moses Michaels, Pastor, organized the first class within the bounds of the West Virginia Conference, at Union in a log building about two miles east of New Haven and the charter membership, as it is given by others was as follows: John Hoffman, Sr., Mark Roush, Mary Roush, Thomas Oliver, Savina Oliver, Christena Hoffman, Henry Nease, Eliazbeth Nease, Peggy Morgan, Jacob Gibbs, Katherine Gibbs, Mary Nease, Susan Rickard, Catherine Hoffman, Barbara Rickard, Elizabeth Hoffman, Phoeba Hoffman, Susan Riffle, Mr. and Mrs Hawk and perhaps others.
       These folks worshiped for a while in a log building and then in the homes of the community until 1850 when Noah Zerkle and Geo. N. Capehart, of New Haven, deeded a lot to the congregation on which a church building was completed some time during the year of 1852.


       The following is the names of some of the earliest churches with date of their organization. This information has been secured from old class books, from some of our oldest ministers, from manuscripts of Rev. C.H. Cox and from other sources. Rev. Jacob Rinehart, a presiding elder of the Virginia Conference, visited both Mason and Jackson counties in 1836.Previous to this date Rev. Moses Michaels had been preaching to isolated groups of United Brethren in both of these counties. Some of our very oldest citizens claimed that he preached at Ripley in the first court house soon after its completion in 1833. This is believed to be correct for the reason that at least two of the members of our first country court in Jackson County were United Brethren and a number of others of that faith resided in that vicinity.
The earliest churches are as follows:
    Name    County  Date of Organization
1.  Bachtel, Jackson Co.            1837
2.  German, Braxton Co.             1840
3.  Peck's Run, Upshur Co.          1846
4.  Ripley, Jackson Co.             1846
5.  Indian Camp Rock, Upshur Co.    1846
6.  Big Run, Gilmer Co.             1847
7.  Sand Hill, Mason Co.            1847
8.  West Columbia, Mason Co.        1849
9.  Steward's Creek, Gilmer Co.     1850
10. Hartford City, Mason Co.        1852
11. Mt. Washington, Upshur Co.      1852
12. New Haven, Mason Co.            1852
13. Iron's Chapel, Tucker Co.       1852
14. Red Hill, Wood Co.              1851
15. Centerville, Tyler Co.          1853
16. Mt. Olive, Harrison Co.         1854
17. Otterbein, Doddridge Co.        1854
18. Mt. Zion, Ritchie Co.           1855
19. Pennsboro, Ritchie Co.          1855
20. Bachtel, Mason Co.              1855
21. Parchment Chapel, Jackson Co.   1856
22. Fairplain, Jackson Co.          1856
23. Oakhill, Jackson Co.            1856
24. Otterbein, Jackson Co.          1856
25. Mt. Mariah, Jackson Co.         1856
26. Falling Water, Jackson Co.      1856
27. Rockcastle, Mason Co.           1856
28. Antioch, Doddridge Co.          1856
29. Fairview, Tyler Co.             1851
30. Putman Co. Churches             1855
31. Cabell Co. Churches             1836

(West Virginia)

       A West Virginia District of the Virginia Conference composed of eight charges was established in 1851. A petition for a new conference was adopted by the Virginia conference and was presented to the General Conference that convened in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1857. Favorable action was taken by that body. The Delegates of the Virginia Conference that year to the General Conference were Jacob Bachtel, Jacob Markwook and W.R. Coursey. Rev. Jacob Bachtel had visited this section in 1838 while serving as presiding elder and in 1857 was assigned to the West Columbia Circuit which had eight organized churches and ten preaching appointment that paid him a salary of $254.00 and gave him presents amounting to $26.67. The charge had five Sunday schools with an enrollment of two hundred four and paid for all purposes that year the sum of $424.67.
       Much more could be said but we must pass on to the orgaization which set in motion a new conference for our denomination.


       The first session of the Parkersburg Annual Conference, the West Virginia Conference first since 1789, the date of the organizing of Church of the Brethren in Christ, was convened in Centerville, in Tyler County, Virginia, now West Virginia, on Thursday, march 4, 1858 at 2:00 pm and was in session until Monday, March 8, 1858, with Bishop J.J. Glossbrenner presiding.
       In addition to the eight fields then in existence two new fields, Harrison Mission and Kanawha Mission were created. The area embraced by the conference was divided into two presiding elder districts and were called the East and West Districts. The East District contained Taylor, Lewis, Middle Island and Glenville Circuits, and Parkersburg and Harrison Missions. the West District included West Columbia and Putnam circuits, California and Kanawha Mission.
       The roster of itinerant ministers was fixed by the conference to include the following; Jacob Bachtel, James W. Miles, Levi Hess, M.D., Zebedee Warner, John W. Perry, John P. White, Samuel Martin, William James, M.R. Moore, and W.H. Miles.
       John w. Perry and James W. Miles were elected presiding elders. Jacob Bachtel and Levi Hess were named to assist the bishop in stationing the presiding elders.
       On Sunday morning, March 7th, Bishop Glossbrenner preached an eloquent and soul stirring sermon at the close of which, William James, Samuel Martin and John P. White were solemnly ordained to the office of elder in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. The bishop then read the report of the stationing committee as follows:
       East District: Presiding Elder, James W. Miles; Taylor Circuit. Zebedee Warner; Lewis Circuit, M.R. Moore; Middle Island Circuit, Eli Martin; Harrison Mission, Levi Hess; Parkersburg Mission, William James; Glenville Circuit, Jacob C. Jones.
       West District: Presiding elder, John W. Perry; West Columbia Circuit, Jacob Bachtel; Putnam Circuit, William H. Miles; California Mission, Samuel Martin; Kanawha Mission, G.W. Young.
       By a resolution adopted by the vote of the conference, Ripley, the county seat of Jackson County, was fixed as the place for the conference session in 1859 with Rev. Samuel Martin the entertaining pastor, who was the new preacher on California Mission which extended from the California House on Hughes River in Ritchie County to Cottageville in Jackson County.        The Church of United Brethren in Christ continued to grow but changed very little until 1946 when it affiliated with the Evangelical Church and the name was changed to the Evangelical United Brethren Church and remained until the church was absorbed and became part of the United Methodist Church in 1968.


       The earliest reference found to a church being located on Bingamon Creek at Long Run was in a short history of Bingamon Creek written by John N. Stiles in which he makes reference to the church when he moved to Bingamon Creek in 1889.

Bingamon Creek
by John Stiles

       "When I moved here (1889) there was one bridge across Bingamon (creek) from its mouth to Wyatt, it was at Pine Bluff (the old covered bridge). There was a log church at the mouth of Long Run, with split saplings for benches with holes bored in them with pins in them for legs, and there was a frame church at Pine Bluff with the same kind of seats. We had such preachers as Ely Sharp, a blacksmith, and Henson Tetrick, a farmer. They had revivals then, but now they have simple protracted meetings."

       I can find no reference to the church at Long Run in United Brethren Conference records until 1908 when it was assigned a minister in the Enterprise Charge. Later members of the Long Run United Brethren Church appeared on the Honor roll of the Peoria Circuit prior to 1908 when the Long Run church was recognized by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ Conference as an organized congregation in1908. Construction was started in 1908 and still stands on land sold to the church for $1.00 by H.C. (Homer) Michael, his wife Clara and C.W. Pigott, of whom G.R. Fortney, John N. Stiles, and Thomas Libscomb were trustees. It is located on Big Bingamon Creek at the mouth of Long Run, Clay District in Harrison Co. It replaced a small log church with split rail seats and was begun in the spring of 1908. The church was built by the members through hard work and donations.
       My grandfather, John N. Stiles, was also treasurer and kept a complete record of all work done, materials used, and funds donated. Materials were bought at local merchants, such as, Hawkers Hardware, Shinnston Construction Co. and Muta Swigers.
       The total cost of the church was $950.99 with an initial payment of $552.70 made in 1908 with the balance paid over two years. The original deed was held by Mrs. Jack Bryner of Bingamon and I feel it is still held by someone in her family. I do have a copy of the deed. The Long run U.B. church was dedicated on August 16, 1908 and the minister officiating from the Enterprise Charge was Rev. H.K. Ash.

       Ministers have been assigned by Conferences of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ since the establishment of the Long Run Church of the United Brethren in Christ in 1908. Some of the ministers were as follows:
Enterprise Charge
1908-1911      Rev. H.K. Ash
Mannington Charge
1912           Rev. I.D.S. Cross
1913           Rev. W.G. Ware
1914           Rev. A.P. Sallaz
1915           Rev. B. Hall
1916           Rev. I.M. Ward
1917           Rev. B. Hall
1918           Rev. Paul Brake
1919-1921      Rev. S.E. Bauman
Shinnston Charge
1922-1923      Rev. A. Vanscoy
1924           Rev. Forrest Snyder
1915-1927      Rev. E.A. Crites
1928           Rev. Oliver Stoneking
1919           Rev. S.A. Jessee
1929           Rev. T.E. Gainer
1930-1931      Rev. W.A. Lydick
1931-1935      Rev. P.L. O'dell
1936-1937      Rev. Scott
1938           Rev. Nestor
1939-1940      Rev. Charles Parrish
1941-1942      Rev. Fred Edge
1942-1946      Rev. Harold West
1947-1948      Rev. Booth
1949-1950      Rev. Robert Shackleford
1951-1952      Rev. Leo Black
1953-1954      Rev. Brown Bartlett
1955-1956      Rev. Robert VanGuilder
1957-1959      Rev. Walter Cain Jr.
1960           Rev. Eddie Hardman
1961           Rev. Robert Harvey
1962-1963      Rev. Aulbert Roberts
1964-1967      Rev. Grandstaff
1968-1969      Rev. Collins
1970-1976      Rev. Paul Reigal
1977-1978      Rev. Earl Perkins
1979-1980      Rev. Charles Starkey
1981           Rev. David Baker
1982           Rev. John Wiser
1983-1993      Rev. Leo Pauley
1993-1994      Rev. Edward Craft
1994-1997      Rev. John T. Johnson Sr.
1997-2001      Rev. Gail Carson Jr.
2001-2002      Rev. Steve White

Long Run United Methodist Church was closed by United Methodist Conference in 2003.

       Members and Guests signing the register on 16 August 1908, the day the Long Run Church of the United Brethren in Christ was dedicated were as follows:
E.N. Martin
E.L. Pigott
Elvira Morrow
J.W. Bice
T.M. Heldreth
E.L. Billingslee
Nelson Ashcraft
C.S. Randall
H. Hickinbotham
E. Ashcraft
Mrs. J.J. Sturm
Billy Sharp
Out Martin
Walter Sharp
Col. Sturm
Fred Billingslee
Frona Pigott
G.J. Riblett
Jas. Sullevan
Harry Matheny
Jess Tetrick
Lona Ashcraft
A.R. Conway
Mrs. Mary Scott
Mrs. Tomlinson
Mr. Fitshure
E.M. Pigott
Joshua Davis
Mrs. C.F. Libscomb
J.W. Sturm
C.L. Pigott
L.E. Conaway
F.B. Pigott
Chas. Stewart
Sarah Crayton
May Stiles
Geo. Hemonam
G.R. Fortney
Cena Fortney
H.C. Michael
W.M. Ashcraft
Columbus Libscomb
Mrs. W.M. Ashcraft
Arconnas Hess (Cain)
W.J. Conway
W. Matheny
John Stiles
William J.S. Harmer
John Shreve
James Sturm
Isaac Ice
S.J. Nay
H.J. Fortney
Ernest Pigott
Levi Martin
Henry Nutter
Sister Scott Martin
Johnny Vincent
J.J. Sturm
I.A. Stiles
Sarah Stiles
B. Hall