Baptists, Seventh-day (German)

Baptists, Seventh-Day (German), a denomination of Baptists which arose by secession from the German Baptists (q.v.) or Dunkers. In 1725 Conrad Beissel published a tract against the celebration of the first day, and, when this created some disturbance in the society at Mill Creek, of which he was a member, he retired to a cell on the banks of the Cocalico, and lived there for some time unknown to the people he had left. When discovered, some other members of the society at Mill Creek settled around him, and in 1728 introduced the seventh day into public worship. In 1732 the solitary life was changed into a conventual one, and a monastical society was established in May, 1733. The establishment received the name Ephrata. The habit of Capuchins was adopted by both the brethren and the sisters, and monastic names given to all who entered the cloister. No monastic vows, however, were taken, neither had they any written covenant. The property which belonged to the society was common stock, yet none were obliged to give up any of their possessions. Celibacy they recommend as a virtue, but do not require it. Governor Penn, who visited them frequently, offered to them five thousand acres of land, but they refused it. At an early period they established a literary institution, a Sabbath-school, and a printing-office, and greatly cultivated music. Branches of the society of Ephrata were established in 1756 in York county, and in 1763 in Bedford county. Their principal settlement at present is at Snowhill, near the Antietam Creek, in Franklin county, Pa. Dr. Baird says, "They are not believed to exceed a few hundreds in numbers, and their ministers may be as many as ten or twelve." See Belcher, Religious Denominations; (Winebrenner) Hist. of Denom. in the U.S.

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