February 10 – Jacob Engel

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Philippians 2:1-11

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

More thoughts for meditation about Jacob Engel

Jacob Engel (or Engle) died On February 10, 1833.  He arrived with his parents in Philadelphia in 1754. They left Switzerland because of the persecution Mennonites were facing there. The family settled in Lancaster, PA. Township. Tax records indicate Jacob was a farmer, owner of a cloth processing mill,  and a minister of average financial means.

As a young man, “Yokeli” was transformed when elements of the Pietist revival, which first began in Germany, reached rural Pennsylvania.   When a religious awakening swept  through the German-speaking settlements, Jacob, assisted by his brother John, became  the leader of the emerging River Brethren (ca. 1780). The River Brethren are the spiritual ancestors of the Brethren In Christ (the denomination with which Circle of Hope is associated). Little is known regarding the ministry of Jacob Engel. There is evidence that  he was an evangelist. He was the shepherd of the newly formed River Brethren fellowships.

This new group brought together the crisis conversion experience of the  Pietist awakening with the Pennsylvania version of the Anabaptist view of the church.  Pietism has often served as a channel of renewal in the midst of orthodox faith and human enlightenment. In its stream were flowing the ingredients of a more biblical combination of faith in action.  The Pietists stressed the importance of genuine conversion and a warm, personal experience of renewed life in Christ. For Brethren in Christ, the Christian faith is a relationship with God that is to be enjoyed with the heart, even as it is affirmed with the head.

Key elements of Pietism include:

  • An empahsis on conversion, the new birth
  • Heartfelt worship
  • Intentional deepening of personal and corporate life; spirituality as a disciplined Christian life
  • The importance of right living. In other words, the Pietists believed that Christianity should be characterized by more than just thinking the right things about God, it should be characterized by living in ways that demonstrated one’s commitment to God. Thus they rebelled against arguing about traditional orthodox faith and being subject to static ecclesiastical structures.

Suggestions for action

It is encouraging to see how common people are used for long-lasting impact. Pray for a movement of god’s spirit among people who are “settled” in Pennsylvania (and New Jersey) these days. Maybe you are settled yourself!

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