History

Palmyra Church of the Brethren…

Deeply formed by our past…Living faithfully in the present…Looking with anticipation into the future…

The Church of the Brethren was formed in 1708 in Schwarzenau, Germany under the leadership of Alexander Mack. It was part of what church historians call the Radical Reformation, calling the church back to its pre-Constantinian faith.  Its founders were deeply influenced by the Anabaptist and Pietist movements of their day, which emphasized the importance of adult baptism, the fellowship of believers, a life of simplicity and non-violence, and a scripture-grounded faith that captured the heart and found expression in service to others.

The Brethren migrated to America between 1719 and 1723 to escape religious persecution in Europe.  They were welcomed by William Penn, establishing their first American congregation in Germantown, PA.  Primarily made up of farming families, the early Brethren were attracted to the fertile Lancaster and Lebanon valleys, and eventually migrated into western Pennsylvania, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and the rich farm lands of Ohio and Indiana.  Later migrations would take them even farther westward to California.  Today there are over 1,000 congregations in the United States, with vibrant congregations in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Sudan, South Korea and Vietnam.

In 2016 the Palmyra Church of the Brethren will celebrate its 125th anniversary.  It emerged from the Spring Creek congregation in Hershey, PA, and is a sister to the Annville and Conewago congregations. Throughout our history we have been a strong and progressive congregation.  We were the first COB in our district to have piano and organ music in the sanctuary, to employ a full-time ordained female pastor and to have handbell choirs.  Our congregation was a charter member of the Palmyra Area Cooperating Churches and has played key roles in the development and administration of collaborative ministry projects in the community and region, including the Lebanon Valley Brethren Home, the Interfaith Manor, the PACC Counseling Center, the Phoenix Youth Center and the Caring Cupboard food pantry.

Our congregation enjoys a membership with diverse theological perspectives.  We are a theologically curious congregation.  We like to think deeply.  We affirm questions and doubts as integral to faith and hope.  And we trust that each person has something of value to contribute to our understanding and practice of our faith.

We are in a time of transition.  We are thinking and talking deeply about that too.  Much of our history has yet to be lived.  Our greatest adventure is what lies ahead.  Our future history will tell a story, we believe, of joy-filled and caring relationships, courageous faithfulness, and compassionate service “for the Glory of God and Our Neighbors Good.”

Join us as we discover new ways to live out a rich heritage!