Brethren Historical Documents are Crumbling – Preserve the Legacy
“History is a vision of God’s creation on the move.”
Arnold J. Toynbee, British historian
The Brethren have been on the move since Alexander Mack “counted the cost” and conducted the first trine immersion baptism in the Eder River near Schwarzenau, Germany. It was 1708, and since then, millions of individuals can trace their spiritual roots to that moment in time. As Mack’s spiritual descendants spread around the world, they left a trail of historical documents. Some trace hardships as people settled a new country or they mark the joy of life as births, marriages, and deaths were celebrated. Others explore a developing faith as Brethren forged an emerging trail of theological insights, calling people to direct obedience to Scripture rather than to ecclesiastical tradition.
Today, the groups who trace their theological heritage to Alexander Mack have partnered to preserve the information contained in volumes that are crumbling away on library shelves. By creating a digital record of what was once available only on paper, the Brethren Digital Archives will be a valuable resource for church historians, theologians, genealogist, and other interested individuals. The searchable database will include Bible studies, theological debates, reports from conferences, news from missionaries, and family announcements.
The plan is to digitize all Brethren periodicals, beginning with Henry Kurtz’ The Monthly Gospel-Visitor (1851) and ending with those published at the end of the Twentieth Century. The first phase of the project includes the periodicals published before the divisions of the early 1880s.
The Mission of the Brethren Digital Archives is to digitize some or all of the periodicals produced from the beginning of publication to the year 2000 by each of the Brethren bodies who trace their origin to the baptism near Schwarzenau, Germany in 1708.
The resulting digital database will:
• Be produced according to nationally recognized standards for archival quality
• Have maximum digital search ability.
• Be delivered on media suitable for the purpose.
• Be produced at minimum cost.
• Be made available to present and future researchers through the various participating Brethren bodies.