Thursday, December 10, 2009

Are you ashamed of your roots?

This may be the all time favorite e-Christmas card going around. It's from 2004, but never gets old. One of the lists from my high school (Bill L.) sent it this year. It comes from Ashland University here in Ohio, and I think may be one of the best PR tools a school could have. Great links, easy to read web-page.

But checking those links, it's really difficult to find that Ashland was the only college supported by the Brethren Church after the big break in the 1880s which split the German Baptist Brethren. When I have mentioned to fellow Ohioans that Church of the Brethren and Brethren Church are "sister" denominations (just try to get a librarian to straighten out the subject headings) and that Grace Brethren is the child and niece, they don't believe me. Well, it's true. That tiny group of anabaptists has had numerous splits, often dividing over minor issues, just like other denominations. But the big one was in the 1880s, a division three ways. To this day, they do little together, not even "good works." They did celebrate their 300th anniversary together in 2008 (founded in 1708 in Germany).

Back in the 90s when I was doing some research on Brethren roots for a publication project, I travelled to Ashland, because the library has great resources for all members of the German Baptist groups. Sometimes in genealogy searches you find some folks you'd rather not claim, but I know of nothing that Ashland needs to hide about its Brethren founding and roots. Yes, it was a family fight, but lots of churches did that. You'd have to know about Ashlands religious founding before coming to their excellent website, because I went through various links and clicked in pretty far, and found nothing obvious. There seem to be some active Christian groups on campus, but I didn't find anything related to the Brethren Church (Ashland).