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The Church of the United Brethren in Christ is an evangelical Christian denomination based in Huntington, Indiana.It is a Protestant denomination of episcopal structure, Arminian theology, with roots in the Mennonite and German Reformed communities of 18th-century Pennsylvania, as well as close ties to Methodism.In 1889, a controversy over membership in secret societies such as the Freemasons, the proper way to modify the church's constitution, and other issues split the United Brethren into majority liberal and minority conservative blocs, the latter of which was led by Bishop Milton Wright (father of the Wright Brothers).Both groups continued to use the name Church of the United Brethren in Christ.The Wright-led faction (The Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Old Constitution) continues today as a denomination of about 550 congregations, with 47,300 members in fifteen countries.The US National Conference consists of about 200 churches and 25,000 members in the United States, plus mission districts in Haiti and India.Expansion occurred into the western United States, but the church's stance against slavery limited expansion to the south.
Martin Boehm (1725–1812), a Mennonite preacher, spoke of his becoming a Christian through crying out to God while plowing in the field.
At that conference in 1800, they adopted a name, the United Brethren in Christ, and elected Boehm and Otterbein as bishops of the conference.
The United Brethren Church claims this organization in 1800 as the first denomination to actually begin in the United States, rather than be transplanted from Europe.
However, the process for amending the Constitution at the time made it all but impossible to amend it.
The denominational leadership made these changes, but the minority felt the changes violated the Constitution because they were not made by the majority vote of all United Brethren members.
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In 1946, the larger United Brethren church merged with the Evangelical Association to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church.