Wednesday, May 14, 2008


The Baugo congregation in the Northern Indiana district dates back to 1868 with the original meetinghouse built in 1878. Persons who would otherwise know nothing about the Baugo congregation learned of it from stories told by Kermit Eby in his book For Brethren Only published in 1958 during the Church of the Brethren's 250th anniversary year. What follows is an excerpt from the book as Eby recalls his memory of Baugo.

Baugo is the little white country church which Grandfather Schwalm served as minister and presiding elder for more than thirty years. It is the church my mother and her seven brothers and sisters attended every Sunday morning and almost every Sunday evening - the church where they went to prayer meeting on Wednesday, revival meeting every night for from two to four weeks each year during the winter months, love feast breakfast in the early summer, and an all-day harvest meeting in the fall.

Baugo is small and plain and rectangular; its external dimensions do not exceed forty by sixty feet. Actually the years have diminished its size, for when Baugo was first built, a shed about twenty feet wide and thrity feet long was attached to the rear of the church. Here was stored the wood for the big stoves which heated the church in winter, and the dishes, foot-tubs, and great kettles used at the yearly love feast.

...Baugo was named for Baugo Creek. It was given the name
Baugo by the Pottawatomies, the Indians who once lived in northern Indiana and southern Michigan. The Baugo is a crooked stream which winds through the valley.... Here too were held Baugo's baptismal services after each revival meeting, often in the cold of winter. Thirty years ago it was accepted practice to cut the ice and baptize in the cold water, and as far as I know no one was ever the worse for the experience. Since then, the Brethren have moved from running water to heated tanks and interior baptistries, and as we have moved from cold, running water to still, lukewarm water, I sometimes wonder if our faith has not become as tepid as the water we are baptized in.

...Sunday morning at Baugo was more than a religious service. It was the gathering of the Freundschaft, a meeting of the clan ... but it must not be forgotten that the basic emphasis at Baugo was religious. The Brethren believed that life was real, God ever-present, and sin something to be trodden underfoot. Children were to be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ... we were supposed to sit still and listen to the minister.

...The Baugo I have described was the central experience of our lives, at least until we were old enough to have dates, and even then we were expected not to wander too far away from Baugo's influence .... at Baugo we were taught, in season and out of season, that we are born for a purpose, and this purpose was declared by men and women who believed that their lives too had meaning.

Source: For Brethren Only, Kermit Eby - "Baugo Revisited"