WINEBRENNER, JOHN (1707-1860) American clergyman, founder of the “Church of God,” was born in Glade Valley, Frederick county, Maryland, on the 25th of March 1797. He studied at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was ordained in the German Reformed Church in 1820 and became a pastor at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where his revival preaching and his Revival Hymn-Book (1825) brought about a break between his followers and the Reformed Church. In 1830 he founded the Church of God (whose members are commonly called Winebrennerians), he was speaker of its conference and edited its organ, The Church Advocate, until his death in Harrisburg on the 12th of September 1860. He wrote Brief Views of the Church of God (1840), A Treatise on Regeneration (1844), Doctrinal and Practical Sermons (1860), and with I. B. Rupp, The History of all the Religious Denominations in the United States (1844).
The Church of God has three sacraments baptism (by immersion), feet washing and the Lord's Supper (administered to Christians only, in a sitting posture, and in the evening), it is generally Arminian and pre-millenarian, and in government has local elders and deacons, an annual eldership composed of pastors and lay elders, and, chosen by (and from) the annual elderships, a general eldership which meets since 1905 once in four years. The denomination in 1906 numbered 518 organizations and 24,356 communicants, in the following states Pennsylvania (11,157), Ohio (2980), Indiana (1999), Illinois (1555), Maryland (1204), Missouri (1053), Iowa, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Michigan, Washington, Oregon and Minnesota. Under the general eldership are: Findlay College, Findlay, Ohio; Fort Scott Collegiate Institute, Fort Scott, Kansas; and an academy at Barkeyville, Pennsylvania. Some foreign missionary work is done in Bengal.