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Evangelical From the Beginning: The Story of the Evangelical Congregational Church.

Evangelical From the Beginning: The Story of the Evangelical Congregational Church. Edited by Terry Heisey. Lexington, Ky.: Emeth, 2006. 381 pp. $24.50 cloth; $19.00 paper.

The Evangelical Congregational Church traces its roots to Jacob Albright, a German immigrant caught in the American wave of Methodist excitement who converted in 1792. Though a close ally of Asbury, Albright preferred to work with German-speaking folk in eastern Pennsylvania; "Albright's People" organized themselves into the Evangelical Association in 1810. In 1895, the new denomination split into two factions. The Evangelical Alliance was more Anglicized, more Midwestern, and more open to the hierarchical polity of their Methodist cousins; the Evangelical Union remained centered in Pennsylvania, and its largely German-speaking membership rallied around the doctrines of holiness and Christian perfection. As this book recounts in some detail, the division was painful, involving besmirched reputations and attempted seizures of church property by opposing parties. When the two groups proposed a merger in the early 1920s, one small party refused to join in, renaming itself the Evangelical Congregational Church as a measure of resistance against what it saw as heavy-handed policies by church leaders. The new denomination remained small but busy, as this book thoroughly documents. A joint effort of historians associated with the denomination's historical society, Evangelical From the Beginning is a quintessential book for "insiders," narrating all the varied efforts of Sunday school and missionary associations, debates over the role of women, and organizations for young people. Those looking for a well-researched and carefully narrated account of an unusual episode in American religious life will also find this book a trustworthy and informative source.

doi: 10.1017/S0009640708000371

Margaret Bendroth

American Congregational Association
COPYRIGHT 2008 American Society of Church History
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Author:Bendroth, Margaret
Publication:Church History
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2008
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