Gehman, William (1827-1918)

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William Gehman. Photo courtesy Bible Fellowship Church Historical Committee.

William Gehman, a descendant of Christian Geeman who arrived in Philadelphia in 1732, born 22 January 1827 in Hereford Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. He grew up on the farm and later learned the trade of a miller. He was married to Anna Musselman; they had nine children, including W. G. Gehman, presiding elder of the Pennsylvania Conference Mennonite Brethren in Christ) 1905-1941, and Allen M. Gehman, treasurer of the same Conference 1902-1928.

Gehman was a minister and co-worker of John H. Oberholtzer and in 1849 he was ordained at Zionsville, Pennsylvania, by the General Conference Mennonites. Disagreeing with his leader on the subject of prayer meetings, he in 1857 organized the Evangelical Mennonites, a group that later helped to form the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church. He was thus the first to start the movement which resulted in the organization of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ (MBC) Church.

In 1858 Gehman erected at Zionsville the first MBC Church. In 1879 he was elected the first presiding elder of the Pennsylvania Conference, which office he held until 1892, when he retired from active service.

"Father" Gehman, as he was known, never lost his interest in the church. He attended every annual conference up to the time of his death. Altogether he was present at 106 semiannual, annual, special, and general conferences without missing one session. At 29 of these he served as chairman.

He was noted for being punctual in the Sunday school, and kept his place in his class up to the last Sunday before his death. He died 12 April 1918 in his 92nd year. His body lies interred in the MBC cemetery at Zionsville.

Author(s) Everek R Storms
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Storms, Everek R. "Gehman, William (1827-1918)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 22 May 2024.,_William_(1827-1918)&oldid=91863.

APA style

Storms, Everek R. (1956). Gehman, William (1827-1918). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2024, from,_William_(1827-1918)&oldid=91863.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 444-445. All rights reserved.

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