History of The Waynesboro Church of the Brethren

As we celebrated the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Church of the Brethren (formerly the German Baptist Brethren) in the year 2008, we review and appreciate our heritage. The anniversary theme - "Surrendered to God, transformed in Christ, empowered by the Spirit"- celebrates our past journey, embraces confessional faith and practice in the present, and seeks renewed faithfulness in moving toward the future God has for us.

Alexander Mack (1679-1735) became increasingly dissatisfied with the state church. An avid reader, he studied the Bible and fashioned a life of committed discipleship to Christ with a willingness to be guided by the Spirit to new understandings of the truth and new expressions of faith. During his life time he counted the cost many times, fought a good fight, and remained faithful to his vision of a supportive Christ-centered community. We honor him by emulating his spirit of wholehearted discipleship to Christ.

The basic tenents of Mack and other Anabaptists
the New Testament as the creed and rule of faith
believers (adult) baptism by trine immersion
love feast, communion, feet washing
laying on of hands
annointing for healing
practicing a simple life style
practicing non-violence
stewardship of time, talents, possessions
service to others
mission support


The wind of the Holy Spirit was blowing in 1708 through the Province of Wittgenstein in Hesse-Cassel and eight pious souls were baptized in the Eder River. Alexander Mack was led by one of the number into the river and immersed three times in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. A new congregation was born with Alexander Mack as the leader. They became known as German Baptists. From the beginning, the Schwarzenau Congregation flourished even under bitter persecution. Finally, Peter Becker, who was fervent in prayer, worship, and in the spirit, led the first emigration of members to America. They landed at Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1719.


A group met at Peter Becker's house in Germantown on Christmas Day 1723. Peter Becker was chosen to act as Elder. Six people were baptized in the Wissahickon Creek by trine immersion. That evening the first Love Feast was held in the house of John Gomorry. Now the congregation was organized. The next year, October 1724, they decided to make a general visitation to the Brethren in the whole country. Brother John Jacob Price of Indian Creek was visited.


In 1752 John Price moved to Antietam District from Indian Creek near Philadelphia. About the same time, Elder Abram Stouffer, who had been ordained by Peter Becker, came into the same area. The Antietam congregation consisted of several churches: Waynesboro, Price’s, Welty’s, Rouzerville, and others. Price’s, the first Church of the Brethren west of the Susquehanna, was built in 1795. Elders during this period included William Stover, Jacob Price, Jacob F. Oller, John B. Ruthrauff, C. Rush Oellig, H. Mitchell Stover, and M. C. Valentine. The membership of the congregation in early 1900 was 560. A great deal of the credit for this growth in membership was due to the aggressive spirit of Elder Jacob F. Oller, who in 1872, a few months after the purchase of the Union Church property, organized a Sunday School in Waynesboro. In 1866 Annual Meeting was held on the farm of Jacob Price, one-half mile east of Price’s Church.


For many years there was a sentiment among some of the members of the Antietam Congregation living in Waynesboro that it would be advantageous to the town church to have a separate organization. In the afternoon of December 7, 1922, the Antietam Congregation met in special council to carry into effect the division of the congregation according to the recommendation of the recent Annual Meeting Committee. It was decided that the new congregation be called the Waynesboro Congregation. Of the original 423 charter members, 28 were descendants of Alexander Mack through his son John Mack and a grandson William, the son of Alexander Mack, Jr. Fifteen of the charter members were descendants of John Jacob Price who emigrated to America in 1719 with the first group of Brethren from Germany.