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United Ministers. 243
tinued we do not know. Probably they were suspended during the period of the Revolution, to be subsequently revived in a somewhat different form.
In 1776 the " United Ministers " ordained Henry Weider, who had been one of the earliest class-leaders. The fact was not reported to the authorities in Holland, possibly on the ground that Maryland did not '' fall within their jurisdiction." Weider does not seem to have been very active in the ministry, but as late as 1790 he was pastor of the Bermudian church in Adams County, Pa.200 George Adam Gueting201 was another of the early class-leaders. Otterbein instructed him in theology and in 1783 brought him to Coetus for examination and ordination. Greatly to the displeasure of the Hollanders the Coetus ordained him, on the ground of " the necessities of the Church in Maryland," but he never became an active member. He was an enthusiast of the most pronounced type, and conducted the "big meetings" on the Antietam which are not yet forgotten. In this respect he went much farther than Mr. Otterbein, who was more quiet and reflective. It was probably greatly due to him that the class-system was revived, but Otterbein was the only one of the original Reformed "United Ministers" who continued to attend the conferences.202 Members of other denominations took a prominent part, and peculiarities were developed which are familiar to all who have studied the history of early Methodism. Otterbein evidently had no idea of establishing a separate denomination; it was to him a "society" rather
200 Henry Weider was the step-father of Barbara Frietchie, the heroine of Whittier's ballad.
201 The name was also written Guething and Geeting. Many members of the family now generally write their name "Keedy."
202 Schwob had removed to East Tennessee, and had taken charge of several small Reformed churches ; his later history is unknown.
than a church, and therefore from 1789 to 1804 he served as one of the superintendents of the movement. Martin Boehm, the other superintendent, was of Mennonite extraction, and was never in any way connected with the Reformed Church.
In 1804 occurred an event which, it has been said, " drove the wedge of separation." Gueting had become more and more irregular, and as he did not heed the admonitions of synod he was finally excluded by a vote of twenty to seventeen. The action was modified by the proviso that on manifesting a proper disposition he might at any time be restored. This action of the synod has been sharply criticised, but it is hard to see how with proper self-respect the decision could have been different. There was no reflection on Gueting's personal character, but the type of religion which he represented was certainly foreign to the genius of the Reformed Church, as it now began to be more thoroughly comprehended. It is believed that the action of synod was exactly what Mr. Gueting expected and desired. He became one of the chief organizers of the Church of the "United Brethren in Christ."
Mr. Otterbein remained pastor of the Second Evangelical Reformed Church until his death, which occurred October 17, 1813. There can, however, be no doubt that he was warmly attached to the men with whom he had labored, and the latter always regarded him with sincere ■ affection. Popularly the "Brethren" were still known as "New Reformed"; but Otterbein must have foreseen that a separation was unavoidable and one of his last official acts was to give them a settled ministry by conferring on several of them the rite of ordination. Thus he sent them forth with his benediction, though he personally preferred to remain in the church of his fathers. When the Testimonial. 245
division came a number of others who had participated in the conferences declined to make the transition. Among these were J. D. Aurand, Henry Hiestand, John Ernst and Thomas Winters, who became worthy ministers of the Reformed Church. Winters says in his autobiography: "During this time" (between 1809 and 1815) "I was strongly urged to go into the organization of a new church, called the ' United Brethren in Christ,' which was then in process of formation and which did actually come into being; but like the great Otterbein whom I greatly loved and esteemed for his piety and talents, I preferred rather to live and die in the Reformed Church."
The congregation of which Otterbein was pastor was, however, so thoroughly permeated by the spirit of the o movement in which he was actively engaged, that after his death it became possible to_alienateJt from the church to which it originally belonged. How highly Otterbein was esteemed appears in an official letter sent to Holland in 1788 from which we quote the following passage: "In reply to questions concerning Dominie Otterbein, it appears that it has never entered the minds of any one of the ministers to accuse him of erroneous views, or to bring charges against him, except in mentioning certain complaints, and then rather as a historical relation than as an accusation. Do. Otterbein has become old, gray, and almost helpless in the difficult service of the Gospel in America. He has done a great deal of good, he has labored earnestly for the salvation of many souls, and the purpose of his ministry—though it may not in the strictest sense have always accorded with the opinion of everyone— was edification and blessing—for what else could it be? He is surely a servant of the Lord, standing before the gates of eternity to give an account of his stewardship."
This document was signed, in behalf of the Coetus, by Albert Helffenstein and Frederick Dallicker. A more splendid testimonial could not have been composed, and it certainly justifies the reverence with which, in the Reformed Church, the memory of Otterbein has always been regarded.
kUR sketch of the later years of the Coetus must necessarily be brief, though the period is not destitute of interest. During the war of the Revolution there were naturally few signs of progress, and in 1778 and 1780 no meeting of Coetus was held. The relations with Holland, however, remained unchanged, though the correspondence was frequently delayed by political conditions. It is, indeed, remarkable that the German Coetus appeared to guard these relations more jealously than had been done by the Dutch Church of New York, though the latter had the additional tie of community in race and language. As early as 1767 the Rev. John Leydt appeared before the German Coetus as a delegate from "the Coetus of New Jersey and New York," proposing to open a correspondence and soliciting aid for a high-school in New Jer