January 8, 1896: Moryites, a Local Religious Group of Community Leaders, Sponsor International Convention


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

January 8, 1896: A four-day international convention of “The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ’ has ended in Boyertown, attracting more than 80 participants from Reading, Harrisburg, New Jersey, New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Boston, St. Louis, and Manitoba who met for religious services, prayer gatherings, and fellowship sessions in Boyer’s Hall, on the second floor of D.B. Boyer’s Store at 2 East Philadelphia Avenue.

The conference had been sponsored by a local religious group known as the “Moryites” (nicknamed for founder Milton A. Mory). The New York Times called them “a peculiar sect,” worshipping quietly and unostentatiously in a public meeting room, taking no collections and having no paid ministers. They rejected the splintering of the Christian religion into denominations, believing that the Church is one body composed of all believers who should live solely by the word of God and not create artificial rituals or creeds. Their only sacraments are Baptism and the Eucharist.

Many of their members were leading figures in the community, including the families of D.B. Boyer’s daughter Malinda and her husband David. S. Erb, the cigar manufacturer; Adam Shaner, an officer of the National Bank of Boyertown; George Unger, a prominent industrialist in town; Alfred P. Graver, the Superintendent of the Eisenlohr Cigar Factory; L.P.G. Fegley, a wealthy businessman; Frank Hartman, the owner of the Boyertown Carriage Works; Frank Leidy, proprietor of the largest livery stable in Berks County outside of Reading; and Samuel Brunner, entrepreneur and father of the nationally known artist, F. Sands Brunner.

It is interesting to note that the Fegleys, Hartmans and Leidys were members of established churches in Boyertown before 1908, when each family had a child killed in the Opera House fire. The Moryites flourished and eventually became associated with the Brethren Church.

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