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Archiver > BRETHREN > 2005-09 > 1126126479


From: " Jane Davis" <>
Subject: RE: [BRE] Brethren Encyclopedia
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2005 15:54:39 -0500


Fellow Researchers--I believe we need to make a little space available on this net work to discuss the development of the Brethren Encyclopedia. Mention has been made that the encyclopedia does not adequately address some church organizations and that it contains omissions/errors in research.

The decision was made to not include church organizations that existed less than five years. Yes, you will find some churches not listed. I have found one not mentioned. The only clue to its existence are the letters of membership given to several persons who transferred their membership to an existing church in another state. Gratefully, these letters of membership had been saved through the years and eventually found their way into an archive. How long this church existed and how many members it had is yet to be researched. I am sure there are other examples that have come to light related to unlisted church organizations within the fellowship of the brethren.

Creating the Brethren Encyclopedia was a monumental undertaking considering we had not quite made it to the age of computers, on-line websites, and the ability to locate information instantaneously. The encyclopedia was published in 1984. Research went on for years before that in collecting data, finding writers for the articles printed, and providing footnotes for each article written. "Someone" was responsible for the huge volume of correspondence included as well as locating the material used in the publication. At that time, not even district meeting minutes of all districts were available, let alone the history of individual churches.

This encyclopedia was a much needed tool for researchers. It was a dream of M. R. Zigler to get the brethren bodies together to work on such an undertaking. Zigler was able to encourage the brethren bodies to work together to see it published. The editor was Donald F. Durnbaugh with a huge support system of researchers. Every article is annotated with material used and the article signed by the writer. A key to the writers and the annotated works is included as well as all material [known] published by Brethren. Other listings are of congregations by denominational body and state or country and all known ordained ministers within the brethren bodies, not including those licensed but never advanced. There were no previous encyclopedias of this caliber within the Brethren. And yes, there are mistakes. There always will be mistakes when humans write articles--simply because we are human.

Vol 4 of the encyclopedia is to be soon ready for purchase. It will contain corrections to many of the glaring errors/omissions found in the first three volumes as well as an update of information from 1984 to the present. Let us pray that those responsible for this long awaited volume will be able to complete their assignments and present it to us. Jane Davis.


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