Sunday, May 11, 2008


Today is Pentecost Sunday. It is earlier this year because of the very earlier date of Easter. Pentecost. Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian Church, is celebrated 50 days (pente) or the 7th Sunday following Easter. Although the early Brethren rejected the liturgical pattern of the Christian year, their Annuals meetings were traditionally scheduled for Pentecost.

Describing this practice, Henry Kurtz noted that "the first council meeting had been held ... about Christmas [1723], the presumed birthday of the Saviour, but now a more proper time was chosen in fixing Pentecost of every year, the birthday of the church, for the big meeting...." In early conferences the day was set aside for worship rather than business and included love feast.

In 1856 Pentecost came early and spring came late to northern Illinois, where the Annual Meeting continued through heavy rains and those present experienced what The Gospel Visitor report called "a gloomy and dreadful time." Henry Kurtz, observing that Pentecost was a "movable feast," varying with the date of Easter, proposed changing the time of Annual Meeting permanently to the first of June, but the 1857 meeting decided to make no change.

In 1902 the German Baptist Brethren (later Church of the Brethren) Annual Meeting made some allowance for a change of date for practical reasons, but that group did not permanently abandon the Pentecost time until 1917. The Pentecost date has been regularly followed by the Old German Baptist Brethren.