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Egly, Henry (1824-1890) | Mennonite Archival Commons

Name: Egly, Henry (1824-1890)

Historical Note:

Henry Egly was founder of the Defenseless Mennonite Church (later Evangelical Mennonites, now Fellowship of Evangelical Churches), was born 5 April 1824 in Baden, Germany, the son of Abraham and Magdalena (Reber) Egly. In 1839 he with his father settled in Butler County, Ohio, where he was baptized at the age of 17 and became a member of the Amish Mennonite Church.

In 1849 Egly was married to Katherine, daughter of Joseph Goldsmith, bishop of the Amish Church in Lee County, Iowa. After two years of residence in Butler County, the Eglys moved to Adams County, Indiana, where they lived the rest of their lives. They were the parents of six sons and two daughters. Egly was ordained a deacon of his church in 1850 and a preacher in 1854. Previous to the time of the 1854 ordination, while he was suffering from a prolonged illness, he experienced a spiritual re-dedication and was restored to health. Thereafter he stressed the importance of an personal knowledge of conversion and regeneration and the necessity of care in receiving members into the church. Following his ordination to the office of bishop of his congregation in January 1858, he continued his emphasis upon the necessity of a vital religious experience and won approximately one half of his church to an acceptance of his emphasis. After he had been asked to resign his pastorate by a number of his members, he organized his followers into a separate congregation in 1866. The movement spread to other Amish communities and in later years Egly spent much time in organizing and visiting these congregations.

Egly was a dynamic speaker and a radiant personality. His constant emphasis was placed upon the necessity of Bible study and the possibility of obtaining assurance of salvation. His death occurred on 23 June 1890, and he was buried in the cemetery near his church at Geneva, Indiana.

The church Egly founded was first known as the Defenseless Mennonite Church of North America, but was popularly referred to as the "Egli Amish."  In 1948, the denomination took the name Evangelical Mennonite Church.  In 2012, the denomination was known as the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches and based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Sources: Gingerich, Melvin. "Egly, Henry (1824-1890)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 18 April 2012.
Note Author: Melvin Gingerich

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