History of the Brethren Encyclopedia

The original idea of inviting members of the Brethren bodies just to shake hands grew out of conversations in the early 1970s at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Maryland, when M.R. Zigler was convening the On Earth Peace Assembly (OEPA). The Brethren bodies had not worked together since their division in the 1880s. Upon reflecting on this fact, Zigler and participants in OEPA thought, "We have some peacemaking of our own to do before we advocate peace among factions of the world." With that, W. Newton Long gave Zigler $1,000 to convene moderators, historians, and writers from the Brethren bodies for the purpose of becoming acquainted.

Zigler contacted appropriate persons, and the meeting was set for June 12-13, 1973, at Tunker House in Broadway, Virginia. It turned out to be a wonderfully inspiring meeting and the beginning of a series of meetings that led to one held in Germantown, Pennsylvania, at the mother church of the Brethren in America on July 23, 1977, where the decision was made to publish The Brethren Encyclopedia. Since its beginning, Brethren Encyclopedia, Inc. has operated successfully through gifts and sales of the books. Numerous persons have contributed many hours of valuable time to make possible publication of scholarly works of interest to all of the Brethren bodies.

The result has been that Brethren Encyclopedia publications are of high quality and lasting value. They greatly expand the information about the Brethren that is available so that scholars, pastors, and lay readers for generations to come will benefit. History is valuable not only for understanding the past but also for planning the future.