Germantown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is starting a five-year celebration of its 300th anniversary this year. The congregation located in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia is considered to be the “mother church” of the denomination as the first congregation that the Brethren established in the Americas.
The year 1719 is recorded in the Church of the Brethren Yearbook as the date of the start of the congregation, and is recorded in the Brethren Encyclopedia as the year Brethren first settled in Germantown. The official formation of the congregation wasn’t until 1723, when the first Brethren baptisms in the Americas were held on Christmas Day in the Wissahickon River.
Over five years, 2019-2023, the congregation will celebrate its 300 years of Brethren heritage, said Germantown pastor Richard Kyerematen. The celebration also is hoped to begin a call to the denomination to refocus Brethren energy on urban ministry. This celebration can be a meaningful touchstone to the launch of the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the Brethren, which took place at Germantown in 2007.
An informal kick-off for the celebration was held on Sunday, March 3, when Atlantic Northeast District executive minister Pete Kontra preached and Office of Ministry director Nancy Sollenberger Heishman was present to worship with the church.