A nugget from the Minutes of the Schwenkfelder General Conference 1784

The oldest records of the concerns of the Schwenkfelder community in Pennsylvania can be found in the minutes of the Schwenkfelder General Conference. General Conference minutes are a historical record of the discussions and concerns within the church such as: monetary distributions out of the Schwenkfelder church charity fund, interactions with the 19th century Schwenkfelder historian Oswald Kadelbach, questions arising as to whether or not an “outsider” can become a member of the society, and many rules and regulations about marriage and dress. Researchers are welcome to make an appointment with our archivist to view them. Conference minutes up to the turn of the century, are for the most part in German.

Here’s an excerpt from the Schwenkfelder conference minutes of 1784 regarding the dismissal of membership:

“XIV Bey der 14ten zusammenkunfft gehalten in Coschehoppe, den 8 Nov. selbigen Jahres [1784] wurde ins Bedenken genohmen, das übele Betragung zweyer Personen von der Gesellschaft, da die eine Person in das Laster der Hurerey gefallen, die andere aber in das Laster des Tantzens und Ausübung anderer gottloser leichtfertiger Dingen, so wurde bedacht und beschlossen, das sie durch dieses übele Betragen und weil keine rechte Reue darüber bey ihnen sich erweisete obschon man sie gehörig erinnert, und ihnen eine geraume Zeit zugesehen, sie sich selbst ausgeschlossen hätten vom Recht Mitglieder von der Gesellschaft zu seyn, und also ihre Namen solten ausgestrichen werden, welches auch sogleich geschahe. Und weil der Vater der letzten Person die Sache seines Sohnes zuviel gerechtfertiget hatte, und auf langes warten keine Offenbarung noch Schuliggebung folgte,so wurde beschlossen, das er sich ebenfalls dadurch ausgeschlossen hätte vom Recht, ein Mitglied von der Gesellschaft zu seyn, und demzufolge sein Name auch solte ausgestrichen werden, welches auch gleich gethan wurde. Weiter ward von den Schreibern der Gesellschaft begehret den obigen Personen schrifftliche Nachricht davon zu geben, alles zufolge einer Verordnung vom 8ten May 1782.”

Translation (provided by Allen Viehmeyer):

At the 14th meeting held in Goschenhoppen on November 8 of the same year [1784] taken under advisement was the horrible behavior of two people from the Society: the one person had committed the sin of fornication and the other the sin of dancing and practicing other godless, promiscuous things. Having been considered and resolved that through this horrible behavior and the fact that they demonstrated no true regret over it although they were properly reminded and observed for a considerable time, they themselves had excluded themselves from the right of being a member of this Society and so their names should be stricken from the membership roll, which occurred immediately. And because of the father of the second person justified (excused) his son’s behavior too much and after waiting a very long time no disclosure or admittance of guilt occurred, so it was decided that he likewise had thus barred himself from the right of being a member of this Society and accordingly his name, too, should be stricken from the record, which was done immediately. The secretaries of the Society were requested to notify the above people [of this action] in writing, everything according to the regulations of May 8, 1782.

On November 14th at 12:00pm, and again on Sunday, November 18th at 2:00pm, join us at the Heritage Center as our Associate Director of Research, Allen Viehmeyer, will share various nuggets from the conference minutes between 1762-1880 during our Brown Bag Lunch lecture series. Our lecture series is free and open to the public.

About schwenkfelder

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the Schwenkfelders and the history of southeastern Pennsylvania and the Perkiomen Region. The Heritage Center offers educational programming and tours, exhibits, workshops, and events throughout the year. Our blog is maintained by museum educator, Rebecca Lawrence, SLHC staff and guest bloggers.
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