Eastern District Conference Brotherhood
Eastern District Conference Brotherhood (General Conference Mennonite), probably the first laymen's organization among American Mennonites, was organized 11 August 1918 at the Zion Mennonite meetinghouse, Souderton, Pennsylvania. This movement was first suggested in an address delivered by Maxwell H. Kratz at a Sunday-school convention in Perkasie in 1917. The purpose of this Brotherhood was "getting our men better acquainted with each other, keeping them more keenly interested in the various phases of the work of our church, fostering a stronger loyalty to its principles, and to have them stand together in Christian service."
The Brotherhood did much pioneering work in fostering service and stewardship among the conference men. In 1919-1923 the Brotherhood raised $41,663 for World War I relief, especially among the distressed Mennonites in Krefeld (Germany) and Russia, to be sent with clothing, etc., through the Mennonite Central Committee organized in 1920. Maxwell Kratz was a prime mover in both organizations. In 1924 and a few years after, over $1,000 was raised by the Brotherhood for the purchase of Mennonite historical items from the Pennypacker collection, for the Schwenkfelder Historical Library in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania. During the late twenties and early thirties several thousand dollars was given for the relief of Russian Mennonite refugees in Canada and South America. In 1921 pioneering work was started on pensions and salary standards for ministers in the conference.
The Brotherhood did much for the fellowship and spiritual life of the men in the conference. Among the institutions it fostered were rallies and deputation groups; an annual Labor Day Bible conference, held at Camp Men-O-Lan beginning in 1946 with outstanding results; and an annual choral festival of 300 voices beginning in 1951. The education of young ministers among South American Mennonites was a later project.
The Brotherhood was made up of members from most of the conference congregations. However, in the 1950s local Brotherhood "chapters" held monthly meetings at Lansdale, Denver, East Swamp (Bethany, Flatland, Springfield, West Swamp), and Kitchener. Early leaders in the Brotherhood were Maxwell H. Kratz, F. K. Moyer, and Seward M. Rosenberger.
Berky, N. K. "History of the Brotherhood of the Eastern District Conference." The Mennonite (14 & 21 March 1944).
"Brotherhood Briefs." The Messenger of the Eastern District Conference. Quarterly publication with regular news about the BrotherhoodQ.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 132-133. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Fretz, J. Herbert. "Eastern District Conference Brotherhood." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1955. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/E238755.html.
APA style: Fretz, J. Herbert. (1955). Eastern District Conference Brotherhood. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/E238755.html.