Tuesday, August 21, 2007


As told by a pastor

I grew up and was baptized in Church of the Brethren, a small Anabaptist sect that arrived in the U.S. from Germany via the Netherlands in the early 1700s. The group has split several times, but still cooperate on genealogy. I subscribe to the genealogy listserv, even though I have been a Lutheran for over 30 years (as were many of my ancestors who later married into the Brethren and followed that faith tradition). Most Brethren in the 18th and 19th centuries were called Tunkers or Dunkards (a derivative of the German word) because of their practice of trine immersion baptism of adults. The following story was told this week on the listserv about Rev. Bob Richards, an Olympic athlete who was quite an engaging speaker whom I heard more than once when I was young.
    Rev. Bob Richards, Olympic pole vaulter champion and Brethren minister, to a very large gathering of Brethren College Students: (His story went something like this) I got on a city bus and sat beside a man who asked me what I did for a living. I replied that I was a Dunkard Pastor. He replied, "That's interesting, the bus driver just called me the same thing when I got on the bus."
There is still a group of about 900 called Dunkard Brethren which left Church of the Brethren in the 1920s.

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