Phillip Otterbein

OTTERBEIN, Philip William (1726-1813), German-American, clergyman, who founded the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. He was born in Dillenburg, Germany. Three years after his ordination into the ministry of the German Reformed church in 1749, Otterbein immigrated to the U.S.

Settling in Lancaster, PA, he began his successful evangelization in the area of present-day Pennsylvania and Maryland and introduced class meetings, open-air meetings, and prayer meetings to his congregations. He later met the Mennonite bishop Martin Boehm (1725-1812), with whom, in 1769, he founded a new group, the United Brethren in Christ.

Otterbein assumed the pastorate of the Evangelical Reformed church in Baltimore in 1774, a position he held for almost 40 years. In 1800, at the first annual conference of the United Brethren in Christ, he and Boehm were elected bishops. The United Brethren split into two camps in 1889.

The "liberals" eventually merged with the Evangelical Association and became Evangelical United Brethren Church. The others kept the name Church of the United Brethren in Christ which still exists today.

Otterbein's Confession of Faith:

Article 1: 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.

Article 2: We believe in Jesus Christ; that he is very God

and man, Savior 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.

Article 3: 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 the filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

Article 4: 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.

Article 5: 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.

1771 250th Anniversary 2021