The keel for the ship of the Evangelical movement was laid by Jacob Albright, who was born near Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in 1759. After serving as a drummer and a guard for Hessian prisoners in the war of the American Revolution, Albright married Catherine Cope in 1785 and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where he farmed and made roofing tiles for barns. When several of Albright's children died in 1790 during an epidemic of dysentery, he experienced a spiritual crisis.
Albright had been raised as a Lutheran, but when his children died he found no firmness in the formal faith he had learned in catechetical class. Then two of the followers of Otterbein--one of whom had conducted the funeral services of Albright's children--spoke to him about the steadiness in face of death that comes from a personal experience of God's love. Albright searched for such assurance until it came in the summer of 1791 during a religious meeting at a neighbor's home. Of this experience he said: "All fear and anxiety of heart disappeared. Joy and blessed peace inbreathed my breast. God gave witness to my spirit that I had become a child of God."
After this personal, religious experience, similar to those of Boehm, Otterbein, and Wesley, Albright joined a Methodist group, attracted by their fervency of worship and disciplined approach to organization, but his lack of fluency in English made it difficult for him to participate fully. And it was the Methodist refusal at that time, 1796, to begin a ministry among German-speaking people that impelled Albright to preach. "The Lord granted me his blessing," he later recalled, "so that I found entrance to preach in churches, school houses, and private homes." His first groups of followers were organized in 1800. With their organization came the beginnings of the Evangelical movement.
home table of contents index back continue