Germantown Church of the Brethren in Philadelphia, Pa., held the official congregational celebration of its 300th anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 8. The congregation is the first Brethren church established in the Americas. It has been celebrating its three centuries of ministry with several special occasions throughout 2023.
View an online photo album of the Oct. 8 day of celebration at https://churchofthebrethren.smugmug.com/Germantown-300th-Aniversary-Oct-8-2023.
The start date for the Germantown congregation was Christmas Day 1723, when the first Brethren baptisms held in the Americas took place in Wissahickon Creek. The first Brethren love feast in the Americas followed on that same day. The oldest portions of the church building date to 1770.
Please pray… For the Germantown Church of the Brethren, its pastors, church members, and neighborhood, as the congregation concludes its 300th anniversary celebrations. May the congregation feel the love, support, and encouragement of district and denomination.
Wissahickon Creek is now the center of a large park on the western side of Philadelphia. A historical marker stands on the bank of the creek at the location where the baptisms are thought to have taken place. Some historians think that the oldest part of a nearby historic house is the place where that Christmas Day love feast was held, just a few hundred yards from the baptism site.
On Sunday, Oct. 8, the Germantown congregation celebrated with a morning worship service where pastor Richard Kyerematen brought the message, and an afternoon service of celebration with Church of the Brethren historian Jeff Bach as guest speaker and pastor Barbara Elizabeth Short-Clark as worship leader. A special lunch featured chicken barbecued by church members on an outdoor grill, sending fragrant smoke throughout the neighborhood. The historic cemetery was opened to visitors after the celebration service. The day closed with a time of fellowship over a late afternoon meal.
The special day was an occasion for launching a new 300th Anniversary Fund as an endowment to maintain the church in Germantown. The hope is to raise $1 million for the fund, said Kyerematen.
Guests and visitors included a vanload from the Lancaster area, among others from Atlantic Northeast District including district executive Pete Kontra. Other Brethren who had been a part of the congregation in past years, or who have a special interest in its history, included former pastor Ron Lutz who helped maintain the Germantown church during a time when it was threatened with closure. A choir and guests from other churches in the Germantown area brought support from the neighborhood. International Church of the Brethren bodies were represented as well. Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) sent a video message. A special guest was Roger Moreno, president of ASIGLEH (the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela), who attended in person.
Go to https://churchofthebrethren.smugmug.com/Germantown-300th-Aniversary-Oct-8-2023 for the online photo album.
Go to https://churchofthebrethren.smugmug.com/EYN-President-Joel-Billi-greetings-to-Germantown for the video greetings from EYN in Nigeria.
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