A Brief History
The History of Maple Spring begins when the Brethren reached the Allegheny mountains of Pennsylvania. Their first settlement in Somerset County was in the Glades area. As the early Brethren began to move north, there was a need to organize a congregation in this area, which was the Quemahoning congregation.
In 1875, the first Love Feast house was built, it was called the Fry Meetinghouse because the land was donated by Daniel Fry. It was a wooden building 40 feet by 20 feet, with a full basement.
The name was changed to Maple Spring and the original wooden structure was replaced with what is today the original portion of the church building, dedicated March 4, 1906. In 1950, the building was remodeled and enlarged. In 1968, the Christian Education Annex was added, it included classrooms, a fellowship hall, pastor’s study and a new kitchen. In 2001, the entire building was made handicap accessible by remodeling the vestibule and adding an elevator.
The family of believers that have made up the Maple Spring church family, over the years, have always kept an eye on the needs of the congregation by providing a place to worship and sing the praises of our Lord. They know that by having a place to grow and learn that the good news can continue to be spread.
Celebrating 300 Years of God’s faithfulness to Brethren 1708 – 2008
Several centuries after the last eyewitnesses of Christ’s ministry, the church had reverted to a system that depended on clergy for access to God. In response to this, a group of believers reawakens to scripture through Bible study and prayer. The “Pietists” came to believe that inner closeness to God needed to be expressed in outward actions. Additional study led to the conclusion that infant baptism was not scriptural. These “Anabaptists” believed that baptism was a symbol of inward change and should follow a persons confession of faith. This “believers baptism” was illegal in virtually all provinces in the European territory.
Several groups of Pietists migrated to the outskirts of Schwarzenau, Germany where they were allowed to pursue their Bible studies if they did not try to convert the native born villagers.
In the predawn hours of a day in early August 1708, a group of Pietists, who “counted the cost”, obeyed their convictions by illegally baptizing eight adult believers in the Eder River. The persecuted church grew rapidly through individual evangelism which quickly spread to surrounding tolerant communities.
Under the leadership of Peter Beck, many brethren sailed to the New World in 1719. They established new homes around Germantown, Pennsylvania. Christmas Day, 1723 marked the first Brethren baptisms and Love Feast, in America. These actions initiated the first church in America. Alexander Mack and most of the Brethren from Holland migrated to Germantown in July 1729.
The evangelistic zeal of the early American Brethren resulted in rapid growth and many new congregations. Frontier migration for Brethren, by walking, horseback, flatboat and eventually by train paralleled other migration patterns.
The church has held faithful to traditional practices as well as adopting some progressive measures. Innovations included schools of higher education, foreign missions and revival meetings. Members explored social improvement, supported temperance, and advocated more education for youth as well as church camping. The 1940’s saw enthusiastic support of a variety of service programs resulting in CROP, Heifer Project International, and Brethren Volunteer Service. The church’s peace position influenced many to participate in alternative service during World War II.
The Church of the Brethren has pursued foreign missions in Scandinavia, India, China and Nigeria, as well as suburban settings. Since 1990 interest has grown in new mission activity in Brazil and the Dominican Republic. Contributions by Brethren from diverse ethnic backgrounds including Africans, Hispanics, Haitians and Koreans enrich the denomination.
Through its work and vision for service, peace and justice, the church has experienced a great influence in the world. While the world changes, biblical principles do not change. There is still a message that needs to be proclaimed as we move on.
Let us all be thankful and learn from those who have come before us, so that those who follow us will find us faithful.