Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Otterbein, Philip William

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

OTTERBEIN, Philip William, clergyman, b. in Dillenburg, Germany, 4 June, 1726; d. in Baltimore, Md., 17 Nov., 1813. He was ordained as a minister of the German Reformed church at Herborn, Germany, in 1749, and was one of the clergymen that were brought over in 1752 by Michael Schlatter under the auspices of the synod of North and South Holland to preach to the Germans of Pennsylvania. He was first settled at Lancaster, Pa. Otterbein was possessed of an ardent missionary spirit, and was a powerful orator. He made extensive tours, associated himself with revivalists of other churches, and adopted prayer-meetings, class-meetings, and open-air meetings in groves. He also encouraged eloquent laymen to pray and exhort, some of whom became regular preachers of various denominations. These new measures, borrowed in part from the practices of the Methodists, aroused opposition among the conservative members of his own and other churches. He left Lancaster for Tulpehocken in 1758, in 1760 went to Frederick, Md., and in 1765 was settled at York. Pa. In all his pastorates his novel methods excited antagonism. He was in Europe in 1770-'1, and after his return preached again at York until 1774, when he removed to Baltimore. His numerous disciples desired to form a new religious society, while he wished them to continue their church connections and labor for a revival of religion in the existing religious bodies. They could not induce him to sever his relations with the Reformed church, though a few weeks before his death he ordained a preacher for the new sect, which assumed the name of United Brethren of Christ.