John Winebrenner, an American clergyman, born in Frederick co., Md., March 25,1797, died in Harrisburg, Pa., Sept. 12, 1860. He was originally a minister of the German Reformed church, having charge of four congregations in and near Harrisburg, Pa.; but owing to a difference of views in regard to revivals, he withdrew from that body, and in October, 1830, established a new denomination, called by him the church of God, but commonly known as Winebrennerians. They hold that there are three positive ordinances of perpetual standing: baptism by immersion, the washing of feet, and the Lord's supper. Baptism, however, is not a necessity preceding church fellowship, faith in Christ being the door into the church. Feet washing is obligatory upon all Christians. This rite, as practised by the Winebrennerians, Dunkers, Mennonites, and some others, is based by its adherents upon the example and words of Jesus in John xiii.: "If I then, your Lord and master, have washed your feet, ye ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." The Lord's supper should be frequently administered, to Christians only, in a sitting posture, and always in the evening.
Fast days, experience meetings, anxious meetings, and camp meetings are all approved. The Winebrennerians have always been opposed to slavery and to the making and vending of ardent spirits. The government of the church consists of the local council in each congregation, district elderships or presbyteries meeting annually, and the general eldership, which meets triennially. The ministers are appointed to their stations by a committee of the annual elderships, which also holds the property (meeting houses, parsonages, etc.) of each society. They have a foreign and domestic missionary society, a book depository, and a printing establishment at Harrisburg, where a weekly paper, "The Church Advocate," and a Sunday school paper, " The Gem," are published. In 1873 there were 13 elderships and about 600 churches, 400 ministers, and 40,000 members. Mr. Winebrenner was for several years editor of the " Church Advocate," and in 1844, in connection with I. D. Rupp, published "The History of all the Religious Denominations in the United States." He also published a work on "Regeneration," a "Brief View of the Church of God," "The Reference and Pronouncing Testament," "Revival Hymn Book " (English and German), " The Seraphina" (a music book), a volume of "Practical and Doctrinal Sermons," and the " Church Hymn Book".