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German Baptists or Dunkers

The following account of this denomination was prepared by A. G. Black, a minister of this church and is believed to convey the correct and authentic information in regard to this branch of christians:

In all their periodicals and records this sect is known as German Baptists, but always among themselves as Brethren, and are better known, perhaps, by others by their nickname, Dunkers. This denomination claims to have reorganized the church, with all of its primitive rites, in 1708 in Germany. The awakening that followed Luther's reformation caused many to seek after true "Primitive christianity," who, from their christian association together and fidelity to the teachings of their Master, were called "Pietists." Their zeal aroused the indignation of the priesthood, who, by the relentless hand of persecution, drove them for protection to Witgensteim.

They still held to the name of Pietists, but not withstanding much difference of opinion among themselves, they called each other brothers and labored together. It was found necessary to have a form of regular church government. A convention for this purpose was held, which resulted in partial failure. There were eight souls who her covenanted with God in Christ Jesus--to take the bible as their man of council, and the gospel of their blessed Savior for their rule of faith and practice, ignoring all creeds and discipline of human invention, but resolved, by the grace of God, to make all things according to the pattern shown to them on Mount Zion. There were eight present at this convention. The little band made considerable headway for several years, when again they were driven from their homes by persecution. They sought shelter under the king of Prussia, and still further persecution followed, when they resolved to go to America, and in 1719 the first party landed, and settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania. From this point they have spread all over the nation, numbering at present about 150,000 with 1,466 ministers with 140 in Illinois.

Mr. A. G. Black, a minister of the Washington arm of the church, located in the county of Kosciusko, Indiana, came to this county in 1864, and after visiting the members residing here and in the western part of Fulton county, concluded to organize a church in this county, and on June 2d, 1865, through the kindness of the friends in school district No. 8, Mound township, were permitted to meet in their school house. There were 14 present: John Pool and wife, Henry Zuck and wife, John Crowl and wife, Joseph Rinker and wife, Martin Myers and wife, Isaac Crosswait and wife, A. G. Black and wife, and some foreign brethren. After the usual solemnities of such occasions, it was ascertained that John Pool and Henry Zuck were already authorized deacons, and A. G. Black a minister in the second degree. The members present, on being examined separate and apart from the official members, agreed to accept them in their official capacity in the new organization. After the elders had dedicated them to their Lord and Master in solemn prayer to God, the organization was given the name of the Bushnell arm of the church. Since, 30 members have moved within the boundary of the congregation, and 34 have joined by baptism, while 16 have removed--leaving a total of 62.

In 1867, John L. Myers and Jacob Burgard, who is now deceased, where chosen to the ministry, and in the same year Hiram Morrison and P. Carson were elected deacons, and in 1875 John Pool, Jr., was chosen to the ministry and William Cook as deacon.

The tenets of the church are, in brief, as follows: They consider faith, repentance and baptism as essential to church membership, also valid christian baptism to be performed by "triune immersion," Matthew 28:19; members are to observe all things Christ has commanded them, Matt. 28:20; they are not to engage in carnal warfare, Isa. 2:4; Matt. 16:52 and 5:38-47; they are not to take an oath, Matt. 5:33-37, James 5:12; they are to wash one another's feet, as commanded by John 13; and are to salute one another with the kiss, as commanded five times by the apostles, and observe plainness of dress as commanded in I. Peter 3, and other places.

Another church of this faith is located in Bethel township. The church edifice is situated on the southeast corner of the southwest quarter of section 18. It is a well-built and finished structure, 30x40 feet in ground area, and was completed in 1883, at a cost of $1,200, by Pious Carson. Rev. Mr. Gibson officiated at the dedicatory services. The church at present is in a healthy and prosperous condition, with a membership of about 30 persons. Rev. John L. Myers is the present pastor.

Source: The History of McDonough County, together with sketches of the towns, villages and townships, educational, civil, military and political history; portraits of prominent individuals, and biographies of the representative citizens, 1885, pages 474-475. Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen

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