Its beginnings may be traced to The Gospel Visitor, founded by Henry Kurtz in April 1851. During the next thirty years, a series of independent publications arose within the church competing for subscribers and frequently promoting the issues of the publishers.
At the 1882 Annual Meeting of the Brethren (the Old German Baptist Brethren had withdrawn in 1881 and Henry Holsinger and other supporters would walk out of the 1882 Meeting to form The Brethren Church in 1883), a committee of seven was appointed to consider the matter of having an official church paper.
As a result the owners and publishers of The Primitive Christian and The Brethren at Work agreed to consolidate their papers with the understanding that the Annual Meeting would recognize the new paper as the official church paper. Thus The Gospel Messenger from its beginning on July 3, 1883 was the official paper of the church, although it would continue as a privately published paper until 1897 when its ownership was transferred to the church.
Thus today, July 3, marks the 125th Anniversary of the Church of the Brethren having an "official" church paper.
Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia