John Dietrich Aurandt, one of my ancestors, a pioneer Christ-following leader, started a number of churches in central Pennsylvania.
We don’t know a lot about him, but we know that he started several (Lutheran and UCC) churches in the area. According to a book, Aurandt is “The father of the Reformed Church in Blair County.” Aurandt “was not originally trained for the Gospel ministry, having been a farmer, miller and soldier in the Revolutionary War before becoming a minister. He was born at March Creek in 1760, moved to Yellow Creek in 1804, and died there in 1831. He is buried at Water Street” (near where we currently live in Petersburg).
More from the book …
In 1798 Mr. Aurandt began to attend the ‘Big Meetings’ which were the forerunner of the founding of the United Brethren Church, and at these meetings he was occasionally called upon for prayer. In an emergency he preached a funeral sermon, and did so well that the Brethren gave him a modified preaching license. He associated himself with the Rev. George Pfuermer who was ministering to Reformed congregations in Buffalo and Penn’s Valley. In 1801 Aurandt was called to become pastor of these congregations. … In the meantime, however, he had been organizing Reformed congregations. In 1803 he made a missionary journey, preaching at Spruce Creek, Clover Creek, Williamsburg, Martinsburg, Bedford, Yellow Creek and at points near Pittsburgh. In 1804 he settled in Yellow Creek, Huntingdon County, and finding Reformed families in Winsbrenner (Martinsburg), organized a congregation there. He also organized a congregation at Clover Creek, now known as Salem Church, Beavertown. In the Synodical minutes he is listed as preaching in Martinsburg, Clover Creek and Williamsburg until 1831, the year of his death.”
The United Brethren Church split with part of the group forming the Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB) in 1946 and later merged with the Methodist Church in 1968 to form the United Methodist Church (more on Brethren history). See the link above for a few more paragraphs about congregations Aurandt was involved with.
We’re certainly grateful for the spiritual heritage in our families. We hope to carry the torch for future generations!