Sunday, March 16, 2008

Peter Nead

Peter Nead (1796-1877) would become one of the most prominent writers and theologians of the 19th century Brethren. Born in Hagerstown, Maryland, he was a Lutheran by birth, and received a good education but he was dissatisfied with the faith of his childhood. Later in Virginia he became actively involved with the Methodists, but his desire to find a church who followed the New Testament led him to become an itinerant preacher - until he read a booklet published in 1823 by the Brethren minister Benjamin Bowman. Within a year Nead was baptized into the fellowship.

He was called to the ministry in 1827 and became known as "the English preacher." For the rest of his life he devoted himself to preaching and writing. Though not born Brethren he became the most articulate defender of the faith. In 1850 his several writings were collected into a single volumn, ofter referred to as Nead's Theology. His books are still held in high esteem by some Brethren bodies.

However, in his early years in the ministry he alarmed a few of the Brethren because he wore a tall hat favored by clergy of the day, but quite different from the simple Brethren style. Since he was much beloved they were slow to confont him, but according to the story the same Benjamin Bowman who had written the booklet that caught Nead's eye approached him and said, "Brother Peter, the Brethren feel that the hat you wear is not in harmony with the humble profession you have made. We love you and desire that you may do a great deal of good in the church. Now Brother Peter, here is a new Brethren's hat that I bought for you. Will you wear it? " Brother Nead said he would.

Notice the Brethren used understanding and tact, complimented him on his gifts, and made it clear that the fellowship was very excited to have him in their midst. Thus they cemented the relationship and enriched the Brethren denomination.

Peter Nead wasn't born Brethren, preferred speaking English to German, and wore a tall hat. Despite these obstacles, he was and remains one of the most important figures in Brethren history. He died on this date, March 16, 1877.

Source: Frank Ramirez