The Church of the Brethren was founded as the German Baptist Church in 1708, at Schwartzenau, Province of Wittgenstein, Germany when eight souls were baptized in the river Eder. Alexander Mack was its leader. In 1720, under bitter persecution, the congregation fled to Westervain in West Friesland. Meanwhile, Peter Becker organized the first emigration of members to America, landing in Germantown, PA in 1719. On Christmas Day, 1723, the first baptism of six new members took place in the Wissahickon Creek.
The Brethren continued their journey westward, forming the Coventry Congregation, then the Conestoga Congregation, then moving further west into southern Pennsylvania, where seven congregations were organized, and south into the Piedmont area, namely Maryland and Virginia.
(History of The First Church of the Brethren in Southern District of Pennsylvania edited by J. Linwood Eisenberg, A.M., Ph.D., LL.D. First printing 1941.)
York First Church of the Brethren History
In 1758, the Codorus Church of the Brethren became the third congregation formed in York County. The Codorus Church continued to reach out, forming mission churches at New Freedom and in York. In 1883, the York Church was built at the corner of King St. and Belvidere Ave. Sunday School began in 1894, and First Church became a separate congregation on July 20, 1895. First Church formed an East York Mission Sunday School which met in a fire house.
At the First Church in 1900, a larger church was built at the same site, and a wing was added to the church in 1923. In 1964, the church voted to relocate to Haines Acres, a rapidly developing area. A Groundbreaking Service for the new Haines Acres facility was held on April 18, 1965, the first Worship Service was held on July 31, 1966, and the Dedication Service was held on September 25, 1966. A Child Day Care Center opened on September, 1969. A mortgage burning service was held on May 10, 1981. First Church continues to serve the community in a variety of ways through its many outreach programs. Two of its pastors served as the Moderator of the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, the church’s highest level of servanthood
(History of The First Church of the Brethren in Southern District of Pennsylvania edited by J. Linwood Eisenberg, A.M., Ph.D., LL.D. First printing 1941, and the First Church of the Brethren’s 100th Anniversary Booklet dated June 9, 1995.)