The Brethren Church began in Germany in 1708 with a small group Bible study. The Brethren searched the Scriptures and the pages of early history to discover the beliefs and practices of the early church and the example of Jesus.
Because of religious persecution, the Brethren came to America in 1719, settling near Germantown, Pennsylvania.
As Brethren, we affirm the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We, as did our predecessors, continue to search the Scriptures to discover correct beliefs and practices. Our worship is an intimate and both a personal and corporate celebration of our new life in Christ. We seek to be personally renewed and to grow inwardly and outwardly. Love for Christ and His people is freely shared as we gather around the Word and under the Spirit, and as we respond to God’s grace.
The Roanoke fellowship of believers was affiliated with the Brethren denomination on June 15, 1893. A group of 22 people met three miles southwest of Roanoke and were the beginning nucleus. The original building was completed in 1909. Renovations were made to the sanctuary in 1964 and to the basement in 1977. In 2008, the church added an adjoining multi-purpose facility that included a state-of-the-art kitchen, office, nursery, classroom, narthex and restrooms.
The Roanoke Brethren Church Bell
Adapted from an Account Written by Vesta Cobb
Sometime in the year 1912 (in Roanoke), I was pleased and surprised to find a beautifully dressed little girl named Eveline appear at our door on Sunday mornings during the summer, to walk to church with me. Several things made these special occasions. She didn’t live in Roanoke, and she was always dressed in white, from her hair ribbons flowing down over her long blond curls, to the white slippers on her feet. She was about eight years old then.
On Saturday she would ride the Interurban (an electric railway) from Huntington to Roanoke and spend with her father’s mother, Mrs. Nussdorfer. I cannot remember whether Mrs. Nussdorfer was a member of the Roanoke Brethren Church, but she enjoyed the fellowship and was often seen in the congregation during evening services and sometimes on Sunday morning. Eveline insisted on attending Sunday School and church services when she could get to Roanoke.
One week, Eveline decided that she wanted to be baptized. The minister was concerned because of her age (did she really understand what she wanted to do) and because of the fact that her parents never attended this church. I was only six years old so I did not get in on the adult conversations; I was just aware that it was not common for a young child in that situation to get baptized without serious contemplation and understanding. Through Eveline’s insistence, the parents gave their approval as long as Grandmother Nussdorfer approved. The baptism was done soon after Grandmother Nussdorfer gave her permission.
Two weeks later, Eveline went to be with the Lord; she died of an appendicitis attack. It was then that friends and family realized that the Lord was present and working in Eveline’s life.
Grandma Nussdorfer felt a great urge to have a memorial for Eveline, and suggested the idea of a bell for the church, as lack of funds had prevented placing one in the church when it was built. After several days of discussion, it was decided that Grandma Nussdorfer would place a memorial bell in the church provided she find most of the funding for the project; it seems to me she had to raise $700. Gifts from the townspeople and the Nussdorfer family provided enough for most of the expense of the bell.
Grandmother Nussdorfer ordered a fine bell, large in size, good metal, and in the key of G#. I had never seen such a large and impressive bell in any church at that time. After months of anticipation, the bell arrived, which brought up another problem; how would we install this bell and secure it? Finally, the project was completed. We listened with pride as the bell blended with the other churches to announce services one-half hour before they began. This gave the townspeople notice to get ready for church. The bell rang again as the service began..
As I spend time reminiscing, I wonder if Roanoke has silenced the church bells as most towns have across our United States? Personally, I would rather hear a church bell than a lawn mower on Sunday morning!
(It has since been discovered that Eveline’s last name was Slusser, and she is buried in what is now Glenwood Cemetery in Roanoke.)