In the early 1700’s, a dynamic revival swept across Europe. In
Germany there were many of these revived believers who became
dissatisfied with cold formalism and error in the three state religions
(Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed). They longed for a church in which they
could worship God according to the Bible, the Spirit, and their
As a result, a number of these believers settled at Schwarzenau on
the Eider River because its prince offered them freedom to worship and
study the Bible. Among those were eight people who saw the need for a
new fellowship of churches built solely upon the teachings of the New
Testament. From that day to this, the only “creed” the Fellowship has
ever had is:
“The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.”
In their study of the Scripture, these first “brethren” became
convinced of all the great doctrines of the Christian faith, some of
which had been seriously neglected in that day. They observed teachings
such as triune immersion, foot washing, anointing the sick, and
non-hierarchical church government. Alexander mack, often called the
founder of the movement, was the first of the group to receive baptism
and he in turn baptized the others.
The “brethren” grew and prospered in Schwarzenau from their humble
beginnings in 1708. It was not long however, until persecution again
reared its ugly head. The group began to be called derogatory names like
Tunkers, Dunkards, AnaBaptists, Dippers, and the New Baptists. By 1719
the persecution scattered the brethren from their homes, much like the
case for the early disciples in Acts. They spread throughout Europe, and
several groups came to America. In 1729 Alexander Mack himself came to
Germantown (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania.
In America, these brethren proved to be zealous missionaries, rugged
pioneers, and good soldiers of Jesus Christ declaring the whole counsel
of God. The movement grew and spread across the nation.
Unfortunately, there have been two major divisions in the brethren
movement in America. In 1881 there was a division resulting in “The
Church of the Brethren” and “The Brethren Church”. Our heritage is “The
Brethren Church” which advocated education and pay for pastors, less
conformity in dress, and less centralized authority in the Fellowship.
The second major division, in 1939, resulted in “The Brethren Church”
(Ashland Brethren), and “The Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches”
(Grace Brethren). Grace Brethren stood for sound biblical teaching,
moral and doctrinal purity, Christian liberty, and the eternal security
of the believer.
In 1967 twenty-one people, hungering for God’s Word, made up the
fledgling MGBC congregation, which met at the Keystone Fire Hall. Like
the international movement of which MGBC is a part, the church was born
out of Bible study. The group steadily grew under the ministry of Bible
study teachers Roy Dice and Eugene Martin.
After being approved as a “home missions church” by the Grace
Brethren Home Missions Council, the church called Rev. Luke E. Kauffman
to be her first pastor. Pastor and Mrs. Kauffman arrived in July 1969 to
guide the church through its first building program, completed by
December 1970. Godliness, vision and prayer loosed the resources which
turned the present location of the church from a cornfield to a
lighthouse for Christ.
The years which followed were filled with unusual blessings of God
and phenomenal growth. Average attendance climbed to 1,148 by 1983. A
five-county area became the vision for evangelism and growth.
Grace Christian School, Grace Community Retirement Center, and three
more building programs, which brought the facility to its current size,
all were fruit of God’s amazing provision for this body of His people.
The congregation selected Jeremiah 33:3 as its theme verse: “Call to me,
and I will answer you, and I will show you great and mighty things,
which you do not know.”
Then, as God permits within His ways, a time of hardship, spiritual
attack and Divine sifting was thrust upon this family of God’s people.
By the early 1990’s, the church was experiencing such a loss of people
and resources that growth and relationships were strained. Following the
twenty-three years of ministry with MGBC, Pastor Kauffman accepted a
new pastorate in Anchorage, Alaska, in January 1993. Grace Christian
School closed in 1994.
Rev. Jim Link served throughout 1993 as interim pastor, and God
supplied Evangelist Ron Susek, to serve throughout 1993-1994 as
executive interim leader. The congregation was stabilized and the joy of
the Lord began to be experienced again.
In January 1995 the church welcomed Rev. Keith A. Shearer to be her
second pastor. Arm in arm, God’s people look again for the abundant
provision of His grace.