Good Shepherd Church is part of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, a small evangelical denomination based in Huntington, Indiana.
The United Brethren church is the first denomination to begin in the United States. Up to that time, there were plenty of denominations, but they were transplanted from Europe. We are the first American-born denomination. For whatever that’s worth.
We started in Pennsylvania in 1767, when two preachers from very different backgrounds met at a big barn meeting. The tall and well-educated William Otterbein, a German Reformed minister, was deeply impressed with the message by Martin Boehm, a small Mennonite who had spent much of his life as a farmer. As soon as Boehm finished, Otterbein walked up to him, embraced him, and proclaimed, “We are brethren.” That’s where our name came from.
Those two men spearheaded a loose movement for about 30 years. Then, in 1800, the group decided to get organized. They adopted an official name–Church of the United Brethren in Christ–and chose Otterbein and Boehm as the top leaders. They called them “bishops.”
And we grew from there. By the mid-1800s, the church had spread across the country, and had established mission work in West Africa and Germany. A whole wagon train of UB people traveled across the western US to Oregon, where they settled and started churches.
Today, more than 200 United Brethren churches are scattered among 15 countries, with a total membership of around 47,000. The headquarters for the United States churches and the denomination’s only college, Huntington University, are located in Huntington, Indiana.
About 180 churches are located in the United States, where it all started. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana account for most of the American churches, though we have churches scattered all around the country–Florida, California, Washington, Idaho, New York, and elsewhere.
We also have churches in these countries: Canada, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Jamaica, Haiti, India, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Sierra Leone, the Philippines, Germany, and Mexico.
Check out the United Brethren website to learn more about the denomination.