Click on the links below to learn more about ECOB!

Click on the General tab for information about our Core Values, What we believe and What is the Church of the Brethren.

Click on the Structure/Strategy tab for information about our Leadership Structure,
How Leadership is called, Our Staffing Structure and our Strategic Plan.

Click on the Requests tab for information on Baptism and information on Membership.

What are our Core Values?

  • Accountability:
    • Holding ourselves and others to do what we say we will do.
    • Romans 14:12-13; Ezekiel 33:6
  • Unconditional Love:
    • Love with no hindrances, loving people enough to call them to transformation: has no boundaries, no barriers. Love is not dependent on feelings and means to extend oneself for the well being of another.
    • Mark 12:30-31; Matthew 5:43; 1 Cor 13:13; Isaiah 43; Romans 5:8; John 13:34-35
  • Compassion:
    • Being merciful and gentle.
    • Luke 6:36
  • Sharing Jesus:
    • Show God’s love through action and words with the intention of moving people closer to God in Jesus Christ.
    • Matt 28:19-20
  • Prayer:
    • Talking and listening to God. Walking with God and practicing the discipline of being in His presence.
    • Matthew 6:9-13
  • Christ Centered:
    • Looking to Jesus Christ above ourselves, we model our lives after Jesus Christ. Everything we do is consistent with the character of Jesus Christ as He is the focal point of our lives, what we do, and how we do it.
    • Colossians 1:18; John 14:6; Matthew 25:45
  • Service:
    • Using the gifts God gave to further his kingdom, we give up of ourselves to meet the needs of others. Courage to witness for Jesus.
    • Ephesians 6: 6-12; John 13:14-17; Phil. 2:6-11; Romans 12:4-8
  • Worship:
    • Prayer, connecting, praise meditation, study and service to God.
    • Romans 12:1; Ephesians 5:19-20
  • Authenticity:
    • Reliable, genuine, trustworthy, true, real, the real deal.
    • Matthew 5:37

What do we believe?

  • Bible
    • Is the word of God that instructs us in faith and living. Is foundation for our beliefs. Is trustworthy
    • 2 Tim 3:16, John 1;1, Ps 119:105, Rev 22:18-19
  • Jesus
    • Only way to salvation by grace. Model for living, how to love, forgive. Teacher, example.
    • Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8 John 14:6: John 3:16, Acts 4:12
  • Prayer
    • Power of Prayer. Talking and listening to God. Cultivating a relationship with God and aligning our hearts with Him.
    • Matthew 6:9-13, Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians. 5:17
  • Resurrection and its power is available to us
    • Jesus Rose from Dead. We have power to conquer death and sin in our lives. Defeats sin and death and brings possibility of eternal relationship with God and abundant life.
    • 1 Cor. 15:13, Matt 28, John 11:25, Romans 8:11
  • John 3:16
    • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • Trinity
    • God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
    • John 14:26; matt 28:19-20; John 1:1; Galatians 4:6; Gen 1:1

What is the Church of the Brethren?

The Ephrata Church of the Brethren (ECOB) has a rich and enduring heritage. This heritage has been informed by our larger church family, the Church of the Brethren. The Church of the Brethren traces its roots back over 300 years to 1708. Eighteenth-century Europe was a time of strong governmental control of the church and low tolerance for religious diversity. Nevertheless, there were religious dissenters who lived their faith in spite of the threat of persecution.

Some of these dissenters found refuge in the town of Schwarzenau, Germany. Among them was Alexander Mack, a miller, who had been influenced by both Pietism and Anabaptism. In August 1708 five men and three women gathered at the Eder River in Schwarzenau for baptism, an illegal act since all had been baptized as infants. They understood this baptism as an outward symbol of their new faith and as a commitment to living that faith in community. An anonymous member of the group first baptized Mack. He, in turn, baptized the other seven. This new group simply called themselves “brethren.”

Though the early Brethren shared many beliefs with other Protestants, a number of issues separated them from the state churches. Relying on the New Testament as their guide, these men and women believed that Jesus had intended for his followers a different kind of life—one based on peaceful action, plain and compassionate living, and a shared search for truth. They also shared their faith enthusiastically with others, sending evangelists to other parts of Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.  For more information on the Church of the Brethren, click here.

What is your leadership structure?

ECOB is filled with gifted and called leadership.  Our overall structure is a bottom up structure that encourages people to discover ways in which God is calling them to life and ministry.  Our attendees, members, leadership, and staff work hard together in order to provide an innovative and creative environment for all to engage the wonder of the Spirit in our community and beyond.

Our leadership structure, at the top, begins with our Congregational Forum and its members – those who are members of the ECOB family. At this forum, we make decisions for the congregation in the following ways – financial (budget), physical (building/land), leadership (calling leadership), vision (setting direction).  Next on the leadership line is our Leadership Team – this team operates as the Congregational Forum when it is not in session.  It makes decisions based on the direction, vision, and finances the congregation has approved.  It is given some flexibility in what it determines best for the congregation – seeking the greater membership when needed. Finally, the Staff and Lay Leaders carry out the ministry of the church.  This is typically done in conjunction with the vision of the church.

As you can see, it is a rather simple model that has accountability but also flexibility.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our church office and be in touch with our LT chair or Pastor.

How is leadership called at ECOB?

The calling of leadership is important at ECOB.  More than that, as those who went before us, we see the value in calling others to various leadership roles in order to seek the wisdom of the Spirit in how we live our the great commission and seek ways to connect, grow, live, and radiate the transformative power of Jesus.  We really take care in discerning Gd’s direction and will for His congregation. To that end, if you feel called to serve in leadership at ECOB – or – you know someone who has the gifts, passion, and ability to serve, please fill out the Leadership Calling Form by clicking here.

Thanks for your willingness to call others and/or serve in this way.

What is your staffing structure?

Staffing in the church is important to keep the ministry and focus of the congregation moving forward. The staff are here to empower, equip, and energize disciples for the ministry that God may be calling them to.  While the staff lead ministries, it is the hope that the congregation find their gifts and use them for God’s kingdom in this world.

Our staff is led by our Lead Pastor, Brian Messler.  Pastor Brian has over 20 years of pastoral experience and has served both large and smaller congregations. Pastor Brian has a heart for people to connect with Jesus in such a way that transformation occurs. Ryan Burkholder, Associate Pastor of Discipleship is an ordained pastor. Tom Strubel and Cody Heagy serve as Licensed Ministers. Rob Eshelman is an ordained pastor who serves as a volunteer staff member.

We also have a number of Directors, Coordinators, Support Staff, and Volunteer Staff that support the direction and vision of Jesus through the discernment of our congregation.  You can connect on the “Our Team” page at the footer of the website.

Do you have a Strategic Plan?

Yes – you can locate our current strategic plan by clicking the link below.


Information on Baptisms

Baptism is the sign of new life through Jesus Christ. It unites the one baptized with Christ and with his people. The New Testament scriptures and the liturgy of the Church unfold the meaning of baptism in various images which express the riches of Christ and the gifts of his salvation. These images are sometimes linked with the symbolic uses of water in the Old Testament. Baptism is participation in Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12); a washing away of sin (1 Cor. 6:11); a new birth (John 3:5); an enlightenment by Christ (Eph. 5:14); a reclothing in Christ (Gal. 3:27); a renewal by the Spirit (Titus 3:5); the experience of salvation from the flood (1 Peter 3:20-21); an exodus from bondage (1 Cor. 10:1-2).

Christian baptism is rooted in the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, in his death and in his resurrection. It is the incorporation into Christ, who is the crucified and risen Lord; it is entry into the New Covenant between God and God’s people. Baptism is a gift of God, and is administered in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. St. Matthew records that the risen Lord, when sending his disciples into the world, commanded them to baptize (Matt.28:18-20). The universal practice of baptism by the apostolic Church from its earliest days is attested in letters of the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles, and the writings of the Fathers. The churches today continue this practice as a rite of commitment to the Lord who bestows his grace upon his people.

In 1708, Alexander Mack and seven others covenanted together to follow and obey the teachings of the New Testament. They gathered on the banks of the Eder River in Schwarzenau, Germany, to demonstrate the public means of this covenant: baptism. They felt strongly that they “must be baptized according to the teaching of Jesus Christ and the apostles.” These early believers of the Church of the Brethren felt that baptism was a necessary action for their faith. Since believer’s baptism was explicitly commanded by Christ and by the New Testament authors, they knew they had to do it if they were going to call themselves Christians. These founders of the Church of the Brethren believed that the Holy Spirit was leading them in unity and baptism was a sign of the work of the Spirit. When they studied the Scriptures, they saw that baptism had deep significance.

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Information on Membership

Church membership is an important part of the life and ministry of any congregation.  While membership is helpful for our governance – our role as a non-profit – it is also helpful to encourage, keep track of, and empower those who desire to serve Christ through leadership, provide opportunities for growth and accountability, and much more.

While membership is not required to attend ECOB, in line with our role as a non-profit, it is required for leadership positions, voting on budgets, and other major congregational decisions.  We encourage all who desire to have a more active role in the life and running of ECOB to become a member.

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