Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren

A Christ-centered, multicultural, inner city church.

Who We Are

Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren is celebrating its 120th anniversary in 2016.

On November 19, 1896, the fellowship of Believers meeting at the home of Joseph and Margaret Eshelman on S. 14th St. decided to organize the Harrisburg congregation of the German Baptist Brethren (now known as Church of the Brethren).


Big Swatara congregation was a direct descendant of Conestoga congregation established in 1724 by the first group of Brethren to reach the New World. Peter Becker, a beloved historic figure in Church of the Brethren history, led a ship-load of Neutaufers (New Baptists) to Germantown, PA to begin a new life in William Penn's colony, where they sought religion freedom and escape from religious persecution in Europe.


In 1904, the congregation built the original church structure on Hummel Street for around $8,000. In 1930, the church bought 215 Hummel St. to serve as a parsonage (for $5,950). The last major addition to the facility came in 1961 with the construction of a new three-story Christian Education wing, which still provides meeting space, church office space, and the fellowship hall with commercial kitchen.

Today, 219 Hummel St. serves as the home of Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren, Brethren Community Ministries, and Brethren Housing Association. In addition to these three major ministries, the church partners with many local congregations and service organizations to improve the quality of life for Allison Hill. Ministries include food distribution, computer classes, parenting classes, the Pathway to Prosperity program, and Agape-Satyagraha youth conflict transformation training, and many other worship, fellowship, and service opportunities.

Why Us?

Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren, established 1896, is called to be a Christ-centered multi-cultural church in the inner city, sharing the love, healing, peace, and justice of Christ.


All are welcome to worship, fellowship and serve with us. Membership classes are held periodically throughout the year. Baptism is by trine immersion (three times into the water) for Believers (those old enough to make personal commitment). We dedicate babies and young children to the Lord.


The Church of the Brethren has a motto: "Continuing the work of Jesus: Peacefully. Simply. Together." What does that mean for us?

Continuing the Work - we respond to God's call in faithful service to each other, our community, and our world. 

Of Jesus - Christ is the Head of our Family, and we surrender to His will.

Peacefully - Meekness, Compassion, Humility, and Peacemaking are strong forces capable of working great change.

Simply - Our sights are set on the things from God's domain, eternally significant and imperishable, not on the stuff of earth that can waste away or be stolen. We live simply so that others may simply live.

Together - This journey is filled with companions. We seek God together, we study Scripture together, we worship and work side by side; we bear each others' burdens and share each others' successes.