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Brethren

BRETHREN

BRETHREN (often nicknamed Dunkers) originated in central Germany in 1708. They were former Reformed and Lutheran Pietists (largely from the Palatinate), dissatisfied with state-linked churches. Pietism sought to complete the reformation of doctrine with a reformation of life. Earnest Christians gathered in small groups to search the Scriptures for guidance. Those who participated often suffered expulsion from their homes.

These religious refugees found temporary haven after 1700 in the county of Wittgenstein. As they continued their Bible studies, they became aware of passages that called for resolution of difficulties by appeal to the church. At that point having no such organization, five men and three women considered how to proceed. They were influenced by Anabaptism (rebaptism), a radical movement of the sixteenth century. Anabaptists differed from larger Protestant bodies by their concerns for a covenanted church formed through the baptism of adult believers, religious liberty, and pacifism. The Wittgenstein settlers were attracted to these beliefs because they understood them to be biblical. However, they did not wish to join contemporary Anabaptists known as Mennonites, because (in their view) after long decades of persecution, these Anabaptists had lost their original vitality.

The original group of eight therefore proceeded to organize themselves as an Anabaptist congregation, choosing a former miller, Alexander Mack Sr. (1679–1735), as their minister. The Brethren were so evangelistic that from this modest start their numbers increased within twelve years to about five hundred adult members. They initiated daughter congregations in Wetteravia, the Palatinate, Switzerland, Hamburg-Altona, and the lower Rhine region.

Emigration and Expansion

This expansion drew opposition. The Wetteravian body was expelled in 1715, finding refuge in Krefeld on the lower Rhine. However, when these members continued to evangelize, they again were prosecuted. The first band of Brethren emigrated from the lower Rhine area to Pennsylvania in 1719. After settling there, they reorganized in 1723 in Germantown, near Philadelphia. Once again they reached out to baptize others, soon founding new congregations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The original congregation in Wittgenstein, some two hundred in number, relocated in 1720 in Friesland but moved on as a body to Pennsylvania in 1729, led by Alexander Mack. By 1740 there was no organized Brethren activity left in Europe.

Upon arrival in Pennsylvania, Mack found that all was not well with the Brethren in America. A charismatic mystic named Conrad Beissel (1691–1768) drew many Brethren (and others) into the Ephrata Cloister. Its artistic and musical achievements won international fame. Despite this schism, by 1770 there were some 1,500 adult members, with congregations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas.

During the national period, Brethren moved westward with the expansion of the frontier, among the earliest settlers in Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, and Kansas. The first Brethren reached the West Coast by 1850. Unity was preserved by traveling elders and an annual meeting that brought large numbers to a central location for joint worship and business meetings. Most Brethren were farmers and sought fertile lands where they settled in rather isolated, German-speaking enclaves. By the end of the eighteenth century, Brethren had adopted a uniformly styled plain dress, with beards and broad-brim hats for men and form-concealing dark dresses and bonnets for women. This plain style persisted, despite increasing resistance, until 1911, when congregations were allowed to relax these guidelines. By 2000, only a few congregations in southeastern Pennsylvania and Maryland persisted with this costume.

Division

After 1850 new methods of church work began to make inroads, with resultant tensions within the church, now known as the German Baptist Brethren. These included periodicals, Sunday schools, higher education, revival meetings, and financial support for ministers (who were self-supporting). Conservative leaders opposed these innovations and also the growing calls for sending missionaries to isolated rural areas and cities (home missions) and to other nations (foreign missions). They (correctly) predicted that the latter programs would result in more rationalized organization to raise funds, recruit personnel, and administer overseas projects.

These tensions led to a three-way split in the early 1880s. The most conservative took the name Old German Baptist Brethren, the most progressive, the Brethren Church, each numbering about five thousand. The much larger middle grouping (about 50,000) retained the name German Baptist Brethren until 1908, when it was changed to the present Church of the Brethren. In 1926 a small number of conservative members branched off to form the Dunkard Brethren. In 1939 the Brethren Church divided with the formation of the Fellowship of Grace Churches, which in turn split with the emergence of the Conservative Grace Brethren Churches by 1991.

Outreach and Organization

The Church of the Brethren began in the 1940s to become increasingly ecumenical, with active membership in national and world councils of churches. As one of the Historic Peace Churches (along with Mennonites and Friends), Brethren wish to work positively for peace. During World War II, the church began large-scale social-action projects on an international basis, sponsored by the Brethren Service Commission. Several of these are well known, such as the Heifer Project International and the Christian Rural Overseas Program (CROP). Brethren helped to create the International Voluntary Service program, a direct forerunner of the Peace Corps. The Brethren Volunteer Service program has placed thousands of younger Brethren and others in social projects in the United States and abroad since 1948.

In polity, Brethren have balanced congregational independence with a strong connectionalism. The final authority in matters of church doctrine and practice is the Annual Conference, a delegated body meeting in late June and early July with sites rotated around the nation. Delegates elect a general board of twenty, who employ staff to execute the programs of the church; they are largely based at offices in Elgin, Illinois, and New Windsor, Maryland, but are increasingly dispersed. Agencies related to the Annual Conference are the Association of Brethren Caregivers, Bethany Theological Seminary, Brethren Benefit Trust, and On Earth Peace Assembly. The approximately 1,030 congregations are organized into twenty-three districts.

Although noncreedal, Brethren share basic Protestant convictions, and their worship services are similar to those of other Protestant churches. The central liturgical observance is the "love feast," consisting of an examination service, foot washing, fellowship meal, and commemorative bread-and-cup Eucharist. A distinguishing feature is the manner of baptism of professing converts, a threefold forward immersion in the name of the Trinity.

In 2001 the Church of the Brethren numbered 137,000, the Brethren Church 11,000, the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches 34,000, the Conservative Grace Brethren Churches 2,500, the Old German Baptist Church 6,000, and the Dunkard Brethren 1,050.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bowman, Carl F. Brethren Society: The Cultural Transformation of a "Peculiar People." Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995. A sociological study.

Durnbaugh, Donald F. Fruit of the Vine: A History of the Brethren, 1708–1995. Elgin, Ill.: Brethren Press, 1997. A social history.

Durnbaugh, Donald F., ed. The Brethren Encyclopedia. 3 vols. Philadelphia: Brethren Encyclopedia, 1983–1984.

Kraybill, Donald B., and C. Nelson Hostetter. Anabaptist World USA. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2001. Contains statistics.

Donald F.Durnbaugh

See alsoPietism .

Revolutionary War Statement

A short and sincere Declaration, To our Honorable Assembly, and all others in high or low Station of Administration, and to all Friends and Inhabitants of this Country, to whose Sight this may come, be they ENGLISH or GERMAN. …

Further, we find ourselves indebted to be thankful to our late worthy Assembly, for their giving so good an Advice in these trouble-some Times to all Ranks of People in Pennsylvania, particularly in allowing those, who, by the Doctrine of our Saviour Jesus Christ are persuaded in their Conscience to love their Enemies and not to resist Evil, to enjoy the Liberty of their Conscience, for which, as also for all the good Things we enjoyed under their Care, we heartily thank that worthy Body of Assembly, and all high and low in Office who have advised to such a peacefull Measure. …

The Advice to those who do not find Freedom of Conscience to take up Arms, that they ought to be helpfull to those who are in Need and distressed Circumstances, we receive with Cheerfulness toward all Men of what Station they may be—it being our Principle to feed the Hungry and give the Thirsty drink;—we have dedicated ourselves to serve all Men in every Thing that can be helpful to the Preservation of Men's Lives, but we find no Freedom in giving, or doing, or assisting in any Thing by which Men's Lives are destroyed or hurt. We beg the Patience of all those who believe we err in this Point.…

This Testimony we lay down before our worthy Assembly, and all other Persons in Government, letting them know, that we are thankfull as above-mentioned, and that we are not at Liberty in Conscience to take up Arms to conquer our Enemies, but rather to pray to God, who has Power in Heaven and on Earth, for US and THEM.

The above Declaration, signed by a Number of Elders and Teachers of the Society of Mennonists, and Some of the German Baptists, presented to the Honorable House of Assembly on the 7th day of November, 1775, was most graciously received.

SOURCE: Donald F. Durnbaugh, ed. The Brethren in Colonial America. Elgin, Ill.: Brethren Press, 1967, pp. 362–365.

Excerpt from the diary of John Kline (1797–1864), a Virginia elder assassinated by Confederate irregulars during the Civil War

Thursday, February 22 [1849]

Hear the distant report of cannon in commemoration of the birth of George Washington, which is said to have occurred on the twenty-second day of February, 1732. It is presumable that those who find pleasure in public demonstrations of this sort are moved by what they regard as patriotic feelings and principles. Let their motives and enjoyments spring from what they may, they have a lawful right to celebrate the anniversary of his birth in any civil way they may choose. But I have a somewhat higher conception of true patriotism than can be represented by the firing of guns which give forth nothing but meaningless sound. I am glad, however, that these guns report harmless sound, and nothing more. If some public speakers would do the same, it might be better for them and their hearers.

My highest conception of patriotism is found in the man who loves the Lord his God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself. Out of these affections spring the subordinate love for one's country; love truly virtuous for one's companions and children, relatives and friends; and in its most comprehensive sense takes in the whole human family. Were this love universal, the word patriotism, in its specific sense, meaning such a love for one's country as makes its possessors ready and willing to take up arms in its defense, might be appropriately expunged from every national vocabulary.

SOURCE: Benjamin Funk, ed. Life and Labors of Elder John Kline, The Martyr Missionary, Collated from His Diary. Elgin, Ill.: Brethren Publishing House, 1900, p. 246.

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Brethren

Brethren, German Baptist religious group. They were popularly known as Dunkards, Dunkers, or Tunkers, from the German for "to dip," referring to their method of baptizing. The Brethren evolved from the Pietist movement in Germany. The first congregation was organized there in 1708 by Alexander Mack. Persecution drove them to America where, under Peter Becker, they settled (1719) in Germantown, Pa. From that and other settlements in Pennsylvania they spread westward and into Canada. The Brethren oppose war and advocate temperance, the simple life, plain dress, and "obedience to Christ rather than obedience to creeds and cults." The original group, at present the largest in the United States, is the Church of the Brethren (Conservative Dunkers); the local churches are united by an annual conference that elects a general board to supervise the national church program. From the Church of the Brethren there have been separations into the Seventh-Day Baptists, German Baptists (1728; see Beissel, Johann Conrad); Church of God (New Dunkards, 1848); Old German Baptist Brethren (1881); and the Brethren Church (Progressive Dunkers, 1882). The Brethren baptize by trine immersion, the candidate being immersed once for each member of the Trinity. They practice foot washing and the love feast.

See also River Brethren (for Brethren in Christ, River Brethren, and Yorker Brethren); Christadelphians (for Brethren of Christ); Hutterian Brethren; Moravian Church.

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brethren

breth·ren / ˈbre[voicedth](ə)rin/ • archaic plural form of brother. • pl. n. fellow Christians or members of a male religious order. ∎  used for humorous or rhetorical effect to refer to people belonging to a particular group: our brethren in the popular press.

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brethren

brethren pl. of BROTHER.

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brethren

brethren •tannin •antivenin, Lenin •Kalinin • linen • bedlinen •underlinen • feminine •Cronin, phone-in, ronin, serotonin •Bakunin • run-in • melanin • santonin •crankpin • backspin • hatpin •tenpin • hairpin • tailspin • wheelspin •Crippen, pippin •stickpin • kingpin • Crispin • linchpin •tiepin • topspin • clothespin •lupin, lupine •pushpin • terrapin • Turpin • Karin •chagrin • aspirin • Catrin • Kathryn •Gagarin •Erin, Perrin, serin •Sanhedrin • epinephrine • dextrin •brethren • Montenegrin • pyrethrin •peregrine •Corin, florin, foreign •doctrine • sovereign • Aldrin •Paludrine • murrain •Kirin, stearin •Lohengrin •burin, urine •tambourin • mandarin • warfarin •saccharin, saccharine •tamarin • Catherine •navarin, savarin •culverin • Mazarin

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Brethren

BRETHREN

Brethren is a term used in the names of several Protestant denominations, signifying fellowship and the unity of the believing Christians in Christ and with one another. In most cases the name originated from the circumstances of a small persecuted group, forced to rely on its own inner spiritual resources and sense of community. The followers of John hus represented such a group in Moravia. Under the patronage of Count Nicholas Zinzendorf, a remnant of the hussites was invited to settle on the Count's estate at Herrnhut in southern Germany. From this nucleus, the Unitas Fratrum, or Church of the Moravian Brethren, developed. The present moravian church in America grew from the settlements made by Zinzendorf at Bethlehem, Pa., in 1741. The anabaptist movement in Germany and Switzerland in the 16th century resulted in the dispersion of all but a few minority groups, the Swiss Brethren, the hutterites, and the mennonites, who continued to insist on faith before baptism. Despite intermittent persecution, a number of Hutterian communities (Bruderhofs ) developed in Moravia, Hungary, and Transylvania. Persecution drove the Hutterian Brethren to Russia and finally to the U.S. (187477). Two other small groups of German immigrants to Pennsylvania were spiritual descendants of the Anabaptists. The church of the brethren (dunkers) was formed in 1708 at Schwarzenau, Germany, and a majority of its members had settled in Pennsylvania by 1729. A similar group of German origin had settled in York County, Pa., along the banks of the Susquehanna River. From this circumstance, their fellowship became known as the river brethren. A religious revival among the Mennonite and Reformed churches in Pennsylvania resulted in the formation of a church of essentially Methodist faith and polity among the German settlers. It took its name from the phrase used by M. boehm and P. W. otterbein on their first meeting in 1767 ("We are brethren") and is now known as the evan gelical united brethren Church. The plymouth brethren share the common note of origin as a small group met for fellowship and prayer, but otherwise have nothing in common with the other groups of brethren. Their congregations, formed (1827) in Plymouth, England, are only centers of Bible study and do not form a separate church in the eyes of their adherents.

Bibliography: j. t. hamilton, A History of the Moravian Church (Bethlehem, Pa. 1901). j. horsch, The Hutterian Brethren, 15281931 (Goshen, Ind. 1931). d. f. durnbaugh, comp. and tr., European Origins of the Brethren (Elgin, Ill. 1958). f. mallott, Studies in Brethren History (Elgin, Ill. 1954). m. g. brumbaugh, A History of the German Baptist Brethren in Europe and America (Mt. Morris, Ill. 1899; new ed. North Manchester, Ind. 1961).

[r. k. macmaster]

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Brethren

Brethren

Association of Fundamental Gospel Churches

Bible Brethren

Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio)

Christ’s Ambassadors

Christ’s Assembly

Church of the Brethren

Conservative German Baptist Brethren

Conservative Grace Brethren Churches International

Dunkard Brethren Church

Emmanuel’s Fellowship

Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches

Fundamental Brethren Church

Independent Brethren Church

Old Brethren Church

Old Brethren German Baptist Church

Old German Baptist Brethren

Old Order German Baptist Church

Association of Fundamental Gospel Churches

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Association of Fundamental Gospel Churches was formed in 1954 by the coming together of three independent Brethren congregations: Calvary Chapel of Hartsville, Ohio; Webster Mills Free Brethren Church of McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania; and Little Country Chapel of Myersburg, Maryland. Prime leader in the new association was G. Henry Besse (d. 1962), a former member of the Reformed Church who had in 1937 become a minister among the Dunkard Brethren. He withdrew from their fellowship in 1953 complaining about their strictures against wearing neckties, wristwatches, and jewelry and their demands that women always wear the prayer veil or cap. Former members of the Church of the Brethren were also opposed to that church’s participation in the National Council of Churches.

In general, members of the association follow Brethren doctrine and practice. They reject as unbiblical participation in war, but allow members to accept non-combatant military service. They do not allow the taking of oaths, suing at law (including for reason of divorce), or wearing ornamental adornment. They do not practice the kiss of peace.

The association meets annually to elect officers and conduct business. Ministers are chosen from among the congregation’s members. They are not required to have advanced education. G. Henry Besse was succeeded by his two sons, Lynn Besse and Clair Besse, both of whom have pastored Calvary Chapel.

Membership

Not reported.

Bible Brethren

17904 Binkley Ave., Maugansville, MD 21767

The Bible Brethren was formed in 1948 by a small group who withdrew from the Lower Cumberland (Cumberland County, Pennsylvania) congregation of the Church of the Brethren. Clair H. Alspaugh (1903–1969), a farmer and painter who had been called to the ministry in the congregation in 1942, led the group that assumed a traditional Brethren posture. Alspaugh protested the Church of the Brethren’s association with the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches) and the failure of the Brethren to endorse doctrinal preaching as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The original group constructed a church building following simple, nineteenth-century Brethren patterns (a long preacher’s desk and straight-back pews) at Carlisle Springs, Pennsylvania. A second congregation was formed at Campbelltown, Pennsylvania. The latter was strengthened by the addition of a group under Paul Beidler that had withdrawn from the Dunkard Brethren, but subsequently became defunct after Beidler led the entire membership away in 1974 to form Christ’s Ambassadors. A third congregation of Bible Brethren formed in 1954 at Locust Grove Chapel, near Abbotstown, York County, Pennsylvania.

Membership

In 1979 there were approximately 100 members of the Bible Brethren in two congregations.

Sources

Bible Brethren. www.mbbchurch.org/.

Gleim, Elmer Q. Change and Challenge: A History of the Church of the Brethren in the Southern District of Pennsylvania. Harrisburg, PA: Southern District Conference History Committee, 1973.

Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio)

524 College Ave., Ashland, OH 44805

Agitation among the German Baptist Brethren began in the late nineteenth century against what some considered outmoded practices. The lack of educational opportunities, an unlearned clergy, and the Brethren’s plain dress were central objections. The crisis came to a head with the expulsion in 1882 of Henry R. Holsinger (1833–1905) of Berlin, Pennsylvania. Holsinger, leader of the Progressives in the church, had objected to the authority of the annual meeting over the local congregation. Others left with him and in 1883 formed the Brethren Church.

The Brethren Church is like the Church of the Brethren in many respects, with the exceptions of having been the first to move toward an educated and salaried ministry, modern dress, and missions. While generally conservative in theology, and expecting a high degree of doctrinal consensus among its ministers, the church has refused to adopt a statement of faith (though it does have a doctrinal statement) on the grounds that the New Testament is its creed. During the 1930s, a group supportive of a dispensational fundamentalist doctrinal position left the church to found the National Fellowship of Brethren Churches, now the Fellowship of Grace Brethren. The church practices baptism by trine immersion, a communion service usually in the evening that includes footwashing, the laying on of hands for ordination and for confirmation, and anointing and laying on of hands for healing. Elders (ordained ministers) lead the church in spiritual affairs.

The church follows a congregational polity and an annual conference conducts common business. Missionary activity is supported in Argentina, Colombia, India, Malaysia, Peru, Paraguay, and Mexico. The church is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Membership

In 1995 the church reported 13,028 members in 103 churches.

Educational Facilities

Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, Ohio.

Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio.

Periodicals

The Brethren Evangelist. • Insight into Brethren Missions.

Sources

Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio). www.brethrenchurch.org/.

Task Force on Brethren History and Doctrine. The Brethren: Growth in Life and Thought. Ashland, OH: Board of Christian Education, Brethren Church, 1975.

Christ’s Ambassadors

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Christ’s Ambassadors traces its origin to a dispute in 1968 within the Dunkard Brethren congregation at Lititz, Pennsylvania. Leaders in the congregation protested an unauthorized prayer meeting conducted by some of the members under the leadership of Paul Beidler. Beidler led the members in withdrawing and forming an independent congregation. The small group affiliated with the Bible Brethren congregation at Campbelltown, Pennsylvania, in 1970. However, four years later Beidler led the entire congregation to withdraw from the Bible Brethren and formed Christ’s Ambassadors. The group follows traditional Dunkard Brethren practice and beliefs, but places great emphasis upon the freedom of expression in worship.

Membership

In 1980 Christ’s Ambassadors had approximately 50 members meeting in two congregations, one at Cocalico and one at Myerstown, Pennsylvania.

Christ’s Assembly

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Krefeld, Germany, in the lower Rhine Valley, was one place where dissenting Pietists found relative safety and tolerance during the eighteenth century, There were several groups represented in Krefeld, including the one which would later become the Church of the Brethren upon its arrival in America. In 1737 two Danes, Soren Bolle and Simon Bolle, visited Krefeld and joined the Brethren. They soon returned to Copenhagen and began to preach and gather a following. While they had been baptized by the Brethren, they had been influenced as well by other Pietist Groups, most notably the Community of True Inspiration (which later migrated to America and formed the colonies at Amana, Iowa). The movement under the Bolles, called Christ’s Assembly, spread through Sweden, Norway, and Germany.

During the 1950s, Johannes Thalitzer, pastor of Christ’s Assembly in Copenhagen, learned of the continued existence of the Brethren in America through his encounter with some remnants of the recently disbanded Danish Mission of the Church of the Brethren. He initiated contact with several Brethren Groups, especially the Old German Baptist Brethren, who sponsored a visit by Thalitzer to the United States in 1959. In subsequent visits he became acquainted with all of the larger Brethren factions, but felt each was deficient in belief and/or practice. In 1967 he organized a branch of Christ’s Assembly at a love feast with nine Brethren (from several Brethren groups) at Eaton, Ohio.

Christ’s Assembly largely follows Brethren practice, but, like the Community of True Inspiration, places great emphasis upon the revealed guidance of an apostolic leadership. In more recent years, it has been further influenced by the Pentecostal (Charismatic) Movement which has swept through most major denominations.

As Christ’s Assembly grew, it came to include members from four states and all the major Brethren branches. A second congregation was formed in the 1970s in Berne, Indiana.

Membership

Membership not reported.

Sources

Benedict, F. W., and William F. Rushby. “Christ’s Assembly: A Unique Brethren Movement.” Brethren Life and Thought 18 (1973): 33–42.

Church of the Brethren

1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120

The Church of the Brethren developed out of the wave of radical Pietism that swept early eighteenth-century Germany. Responding to William Penn’s invitation to come to the American colonies, most of the Brethren immigrated; those who remained were absorbed into the Mennonite movement. The first American congregation was instituted in Germantown, Pennsylvania, on Christmas Day, 1723. Important leaders of the first generation included Alexander Mack Sr. (1679–1735), the first recognized minister; Christopher Sauer II (1721–1784), a noted colonial printer; Alexander Mack Jr. (1712–1803); and Peter Becker (1687–1758). Until the early twentieth century, Brethren were commonly known as Dunkers (or Tunkers), after their practice of thrice-fold immersion baptism. Their formal name, German Baptist Brethren, used during most of the nineteenth century, was changed to the current designation in 1908, the church’s bicentennial year.

In colonial Pennsylvania, the Brethren shared with the Mennonites a German cultural background and Anabaptist theology, and with the Friends (Quakers) a commitment to peace and simplicity. All of these groups sought a separation from secular influences, wore distinctive plain dress, and opposed slavery. Brethren practiced strong church discipline (although not the ban—or shunning, the practice of avoiding contact with those who have withdrawn or excluded from the fellowship) selected leaders who were not salaried or expected to obtain theological education, and refrained from voting, taking oaths, or entering lawsuits. One of the most distinctive features of Brethren worship has been their observance of the love feast, a communion service that includes foot washing, a “love meal,” and the taking of unleavened bread and wine or grape juice.

As one of the historic peace churches, Brethren were opposed to military service in the American Revolution and the Civil War. This resulted in limited persecution, including fines and imprisonment. The program of alternative service that became available to conscientious objectors in World War II, and was retained during later conflicts, brought an end to this persecution, however.

Although the early Brethren were open to urban life, most preferred an agricultural setting and followed the farming frontier across the continent. Congregations were established in Kentucky and Ohio during the 1790s, Missouri and Illinois during the 1810s, and California and Oregon during the 1850s. Brethren settlement of the West at the turn of the nineteenth century was greatly aided by the colonization programs of the transcontinental railroads, which encouraged the settlement of sparsely populated lands through which it initially laid track. The small movement of Brethren into Canada was aided by the development of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, which encouraged immigration in the early twentieth century. Between 1903 and 1922 as many as twelve Canadian congregations were founded, mostly in Alberta and Saskatchewan. By 1968 only two of these congregations remained and these became part of the United Church of Canada.

The Brethren began to hold yearly meetings for worship and church business during the 1740s, although no minutes were recorded until the 1780s. By the 1840s a delegated conference of lay representatives and ministers had become the highest authority in the church. Following the Civil War, the church took an active interest in missionary work (foreign and domestic), publishing, and education. Foreign mission efforts began in Denmark in the 1890s. Fields were also opened in India, China, Nigeria, and Ecuador. The Brethren Press, founded in 1897, produced a supply of books, periodicals, church school materials, and other literature. Numerous educational institutions were founded, six of which evolved into fully accredited independent liberal arts institutions, five of them colleges and one a university. The church also supported a theological seminary.

Tensions within the denomination in the late nineteenth century produced a painful three-way division. In addition to the original group, an “old order” movement that opposed innovation and venerated the tradition of earlier Brethren organized the Old German Baptist Brethren in 1881. A “progressive” faction organized the Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio) in 1883.

The twentieth century has seen rapid change in Brethren life. Following an important decision on dress at the annual conference of 1911, the distinctive dress of the church has virtually disappeared. The free, plural ministry was transformed into salaried, professional pastoral leadership. Women became eligible for ordination in 1957. Efforts at evangelism and new church development have produced a more inclusive membership that includes several black, Hispanic, and Korean congregations.

The extensive world mission program began a process of dramatic change in 1955, resulting in the creation of indigenous and independent religious bodies. The Ecuadorian congregations joined the United Evangelical Church of Ecuador in 1965; the India mission program merged into the Church of North India in 1970; and the Nigerian churches became the independent Brethren Church of Nigeria in 1973. The mission program in China folded when Western missionaries were sent home in 1950.

Perhaps Brethren have been best known around the world for their efforts in relief and rehabilitation work in Europe following World War II. Brethren service projects later stretched into India and China and fostered ecumenical organizations such as Heifer Project International, founded by layman Dan West, Christian Rural Overseas Program (CROP), and International Christian Youth Exchange (ICYE). The denomination also organized and administers SEERV (Salves Exchange for Refugee Rehabilitation Vocations), the largest marketing program of its type for Third World handicrafts.

Since 1946 a general board of 25 members elected by the annual conference has employed a program and administrative staff in the areas of parish ministries, world ministries and disaster response, publishing, and stewardship. The general offices and Brethren Press are located in Elgin, Illinois; a service center is operated in New Windsor, Maryland. The church is a founding member of both the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches. The Brethren Church of Nigeria is also a member of the World Council.

Membership

In 1996 the Brethren reported 141,811 members, 1,106 congregations, and 1,946 ordained ministers in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Educational Facilities

Bethany Theological Seminary, Oak Brook, Illinois.

Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, Virginia.

Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.

Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

Manchester College, North Manchester, Indiana.

McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas.

University of La Verne, La Verne, California.

Periodicals

Messenger. • Brethren Life and Thought.

Sources

Church of the Brethren. www.brethren.org/.

Book of Worship: The Church of the Brethren. Elgin, IL: Brethren Press, 1964.

Bowman, Carl. Brethren Society. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.

Durnbaugh, Donald F. Fruit of the Vine: A History of the Brethren, 1708–1995. Elgin, IL: Brethren Press, 1997.

———, ed. The Brethren Encyclopedia. 3 vols. Philadelphia, PA: Brethren Encyclopedia, 1983.

Mallot, Floyd E. Studies in Brethren History. Elgin, IL: Brethren Publishing House, 1954.

Manual of Brotherhood Organization and Polity. Elgin, IL: Church of the Brethren, General Offices, 1965.

Sappington, Roger E., ed. The Brethren in the New Nation. Elgin, IL: Brethren Press, 1976.

Conservative German Baptist Brethren

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Conservative German Baptist Brethren is a small Brethren body that dates to the 1931 withdrawal of a group under the leadership of Clayton F. Weaver and Ervin J. Keeny from the Dunkard Brethren Church in Pennsylvania. In 1946 Loring I. Moss, a prominent exponent of the conservative element of the Brethren Movement and one of the organizers of the Dunkard Brethren Church, withdrew and formed the Primitive Dunkard Brethren. Noting the similar concern to keep stricter Brethren standards, Moss led his new group into the Conservative German Baptist Brethren, though personally, he later withdrew and joined the Old Brethren.

Membership

In 1980 the Conservative German Baptist Brethren had two congregations, one at New Madison, Ohio, with 10 members, and one at Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, with 25 members.

Conservative Grace Brethren Churches International

c/o Grace Brethren Church, PO Box 1275, Morrisville, VT 05661

The Conservative Grace Brethren Churches International resulted from a split in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches in 1992. Those who formed the new church represented the most conservative element of the Fellowship while continuing its formal agreement with the Fellowship’s “Statement of Faith” that had been adopted in 1969. In their slightly revised Statement of Faith, with clarifications adopted in 1994, the Conservative Brethren affirm the inerrancy of Scripture (rather than simply its infallibility), the pre-existence of Christ prior to the incarnation in Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit in indwelling believers from the moment of regeneration, empowering them for Christian life and service. They tie belief in the Trinity to the practice of triune immersion, which is an emphasis within the group. Within the group, confession of faith and triune immersion are the essential requirements for church membership and triune immersion shall not be abandoned with the exception of medical reasons of a physical nature. The Conservative Brethren also reemphasizes the triune nature of the communion service that must include the “washing of the saints’ feet, the Lord’s Supper, and the communion of the bread and the cup.”

The very conservative stance of the new church is especially demonstrated in its belief in “the recent, direct creation of the heavens, the earth, and all their hosts, without pre-existing material, in six literal 24-hour days” and an understanding of hell as providing eternal punishment while unbelievers are in a conscious state.

The Conservative Brethren are organized as an association of autonomous local churches cooperating in fellowship and work.

Membership

Not reported. In 2002, the fellowship included 47 congregations.

Sources

Conservative Grace Brethren Churches. my.raex.com/~ogbc/CGBCI/

Dunkard Brethren Church

c/o Dale E. Jamison, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Quinter, KS 67752

The Dunkard Brethren Church grew out of a conservative movement within the Church of the Brethren that protested what it saw as a worldly drift and a lowering of standards in the church. The movement formed around the Bible Monitor, a periodical begun in 1922 by Benjamin E. Kesler (1861–1952), a minister who had joined the Church of the Brethren in the first decade of the twentieth century. He was one of seven people chosen to write the report on the dress standards adopted by the church in 1911, but in the next decade he saw the dress standards increasingly ignored. Men began to wear ties and women were adopting fashionable clothes and modern hairstyles. Kesler also protested the acceptance of lodge and secret-society membership, divorce and remarriage, and a salaried educated ministry (that was pushing aside the traditional lay eldership).

The emergence of the Bible Monitor movement produced tensions within the Church of the Brethren. In 1923 Kesler was refused a seat at the annual conference. That same year he met with supporters at Denton, Maryland, to further organize efforts to reform the church. Subsequent meetings were held in different locations over the next few years. By 1926 it became evident that the church would not accept the movement’s perspective, and at a meeting at Plevna, Indiana, the Dunkard Brethren Church was organized.

The Dunkard Brethren Church follows traditional Brethren beliefs and practices, and until recently has rebaptized members who joined from less strict branches of the church. The Dunkard Brethren adopted and enforces the dress standards accepted by the Church of the Brethren in 1911. Modesty and simplicity (though not uniformity) of dress is required. No gold or other jewelry may be worn. Women keep their hair long and simply styled, and generally wear a white cap. Men cut their hair short. Divorce and remarriage are not allowed. Life insurance is discouraged. No musical instruments are used in worship.

The church has three orders of ministry. Elders marry, bury, and administer the ordinances; ministers preach and assist the elders in their sacramental role; deacons attend to temporal matters. All are laymen elected by their local congregations. The standing committee, composed of all the elders of the church, has general oversight of the church. Together with the ministers and elders elected by the local churches as delegates, they form the general conference, the highest legislative body in the church. Its decisions are final on all matters brought before it. The church is organized into four districts that meet annually.

The Dunkard Brethren Church supports the Torreon Navajo Mission in New Mexico.

Membership

In 2006 the Dunkard Brethren reported 900 members in 25 congregations.

Periodicals

The Bible Monitor. Available from the editor at 1138 E 12th St., Beaumont, CA 92223.

Sources

Dunkard Brethren Church Manual. Quinter, KS: Dunkard Brethren Church, 1971.

Dunkard Brethren Church Polity. 7th ed. Quinter, KS: Dunkard Brethren Church, 1993.

Minutes of the General Conference of the Dunkard Brethren Church from 1927 to 1975. Wauseon, OH: Glanz Lithographing Co., 1976.

Emmanuel’s Fellowship

8345 Crown Point Ave., Omaha, NE 68134-1905

Emmanuel’s Fellowship was formed in 1966 by members of the Old Order River Brethren, under the leadership of Paul Goodling of Greencastle, Pennsylvania. Goodling rejected the Brethren’s insistence on baptism by immersion and their allowing members to accept social security benefits. The fellowship baptizes by pouring, as the candidate stands in water. There are very strict dress requirements.

Membership

Not reported. The fellowship began in the 1960s with a small group organized as a single congregation. It has subsequently grown into a large congregation with plans for planting new congregations.

Sources

Emmanuel’s Fellowship. www.emmanuelfellowship.com/.

Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches

Brethren Missionary Herald Co., PO Box 576, Winona Lake, IN 46590

The movement that led to the founding of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches developed within the Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio) during the 1930s. Conservatives in the church voiced concern over liberal tendencies within the church and more particularly at the church-supported school, Ashland College. Led by ministers such as Alva J. McClain (1888–1968), the National Ministerial Association drew up and adopted the “Message of the Brethren Ministry,” a statement of the Brethren position. The entire church refused to adopt the statement on the grounds that it seemed to be a substitute for their adherence to the New Testament as their only creed.

Conservatives scored a second victory in 1930 when a graduate school of theology opened at Ashland under McClain’s leadership. However, in 1937, both McClain, then dean of the school, and Prof. Herman A. Hoyt (1909–2000) were dismissed. Their supporters organized Grace Theological Seminary as a new institution for ministerial training, which set the stage for a confrontation at the 1939 general conference of the church. After the exclusion of some of the new seminary’s supporters, all walked out and formed the National Fellowship of Brethren Churches, which in 1976 assumed its present name.

The new church adopted the 1921 “Message of the Brethren Ministry” as its doctrinal position. That document was replaced in 1969 by a revised and expanded “Statement of Faith.” The new statement affirms the conservative evangelical theology of the original document but adds a lengthy statement on various eschatological issues such as the premillennial return of Christ, eternal punishment for nonbelievers, and a belief in a personal Satan. The church practices baptism by triune immersion, and a threefold communion that includes footwashing, a meal, and partaking of the elements of bread and the cup.

The Fellowship adopted a congregational polity. The conference of the Fellowship meets annually. The Foreign Mission Society, now named Grace Brethren International Missions, operates in Argentina, Brazil, Africa, France, Germany, England, Mexico, Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Portugal. Other national cooperating national organizations include CE (Church Effectiveness) National, Grace Brethren Investment Foundation, Grace College and Seminary, and Brethren Missionary Herald Company.

Membership

In 2006 the Fellowship reported 27,000 members, 43,500 average attendance, and 2,650 congregations.

Educational Facilities

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana.

Grace College, Winona Lake, Indiana.

Periodicals

FGBC World.

Sources

Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. www.fgbc.org/.

Baumann, Louis S. The Faith. Winona Lake, IN: Brethren Missionary Herald, 1960.

McClain, Alva J. Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks. Winona Lake, IN: Brethren Missionary Herald Books, 2007.

Plaster, David R. Finding Our Focus: A History of the Grace Brethren Church. Winona Lake, IN: Brethren Missionary Herald Books, 2003.

Scoles, Todd. Restoring the Household: The Heritage and Quest of the Grace Brethren Church. Winona Lake, IN: Brethren Missionary Herald Books, 2008.

Fundamental Brethren Church

c/o Mack Peterson, The Upper Brummetts Creek Fundamental Brethren Church, 424 Griffith Rd., Green Mountain, NC 28740

The Fundamental Brethren Church was formed in 1962 by former members of four congregations of the Church of the Brethren in Mitchell County, North Carolina, under the leadership of Calvin Barnett. The doctrinally conservative group adopted the “Message of the Brethren Ministry,” a statement written by some ministers in the Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio) in the 1920s as their doctrinal standard. Among the issues involved in their leaving the Church of the Brethren, its participation in the National Council of Churches and use of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible were prominent. The group added to its doctrinal statement that the King James Version of the Bible is authoritative. It also adopted a fundamental premillennial dispensational theological stance. By 1967, there were four congregations with 200 members.

Membership

In the 1970s there were three congregations of fewer than 200 members.

Independent Brethren Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Independent Brethren Church was formed in 1972. On February 12 of that year, the Upper Marsh Creek congregation of the Church of the Brethren at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, withdrew and became an independent body. Later that year, members from the Antietam congregation left and established the independent Blue Rock congregation near Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. These two congregations united as the Independent Brethren Church. They are conservative in their following of Brethren belief and practice. They have kept the plain dress and oppose any affiliation with the National Council of Churches.

Membership

In 1980 the Independent Brethren Church had approximately 85 members in two congregations.

Old Brethren Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Old Brethren Church, generally referred to simply as the Old Brethren, is a name taken by two congregations which split from the Old German Baptist Brethren in 1913 (Deer Creek congregation in Carroll County, Indiana) and in 1915 (Salida congregation in Stanislaus County, California). Though widely separated geographically, the two congregations banded together and in 1915 published The Old Brethren’s Reasons, a 24-page pamphlet outlining their position. The Old Brethren dissented from the Old German Baptist Brethren’s refusal to make annual meeting decisions uniformly applicable and from their allowing divergences of practice and discipline among the different congregations. Also, the Old Brethren called for greater strictness in plain dress and called for houses and carriages shorn of any frills that would gratify the lust of the eye.

In particular, the Old Brethren denounced the automobile and the telephone. Use of either caused a believer to be hooked into the world and inevitably led to church members being yoked together with unbelievers. In practice, over the years, the Old Brethren have been forced to change and have come to closely resemble the group from which they originally withdrew. Even prior to World War II, they began to make accommodation to the automobile.

Members of the Old Brethren meet annually at Pentecost, but keep legislation to a minimum. They allow the congregations to retain as much authority as possible.

Beginning with two congregations, the Old Brethren Church has experienced growth in spite of a schism in 1930 that led to the formation of the Old Brethren German Baptist Church. A third meeting house was built in the 1970s.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

The Pilgrim. Send orders to 19201 Cherokee Rd., Tuolumne, CA 95379.

Sources

Kraybill, Donald B., and Carl F. Bowman. On the Backroad to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

Old Brethren German Baptist Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Old Brethren German Baptist Church originated among the most conservative members of the Old Brethren Church and the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church. Around 1930 members of the Old Brethren Deer Creek congregation near Camden, Indiana, began to fellowship with the Old Order Brethren in the Covington, Ohio, area. However, by 1935 the traditionalist Old Brethren found themselves unable to continue their affiliations with the Ohio Brethren. They continued as an independent congregation until they made contact with a few Old Order Brethren near Bradford, Ohio, who met in the home of Solomon Lavy. In 1939 the two groups merged and adopted the name Old Brethren German Baptist Church. They were joined in 1953 by a group of Old Order Brethren from Arcanum, Ohio.

The Old Brethren is the most conservative of all Brethren groups. They use neither automobiles, tractors, electricity, nor telephones. Their only accommodation to modern mechanization is that they do permit occasional use of stationary gasoline engines and will hire nonmembers for specific tasks requiring machinery. Members follow a strict personal code of nonconformity to the world. Homes and buggies are plainly furnished and simply painted. No gold or jewelry is worn. Farmers do not raise or habitually use tobacco. Members do not vote or purchase life insurance.

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

Kraybill, Donald B., and Carl F. Bowman. On the Backroad to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

Old German Baptist Brethren

Rte. 1, Box 140, Bringhurst, IN 46913

The Old German Baptist Brethren represents the conservative wing in the Brethren movement. This group withdrew in 1881. The group was protesting innovative tendencies and was opposed to Sunday schools, missions, higher education, church societies, and auxiliaries. It has lessened its opposition to higher education among members and now sponsors parochial schools. No missions are supported, and children attend the regular services of the church instead of having a church school.

The Old German Baptist Brethren wear plain clothes and are committed to non-participation in war, government, secret societies, and worldly amusements. They also object to participation in government (i.e., voting) even by members whose conscience otherwise allows it. They remain conservative on oaths, lawsuits, non-salaried ministry, and veiled heads for women at worship.

Membership

In 2002 the Brethren reported 6,205 members in 56 churches served by 236 ministers.

Periodicals

The Vindicator. Send orders to 6952 N Montgomery County Line Rd., Englewood, OH 45322.

Sources

Fisher, H. M., et al. Doctrinal Treatise. Covington, OH: Little Printing Company, 1954.

Old Order German Baptist Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

As the Old German Baptist Brethren continued to deal with questions of accommodating to a fast-moving society in the early twentieth century, a group of members withdrew in 1921 because of the departure of the Old German Baptist Brethren from the established order and old paths. The petitioners, as they were informally called, could be found throughout the brethren, but were concentrated in the congregations at Covington and Arcanum, Ohio.

Staunchly set against most modern conveniences, the Old Order German Baptists have over the years been forced to accommodate. Automobiles are forbidden, but tractors are now allowed for farm work. Members do not use electricity or telephones. Increasingly, younger members have been forced to leave the farm and seek employment in nonfarm occupations.

Membership

In 1980 the church had fewer than 100 members and three congregations, all in Ohio (Gettysburg, Covington, and Arcanum).

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Brethren

Brethren

942

Association of Fundamental Gospel Churches

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Association of Fundamental Gospel Churches was formed in 1954 by the coming together of three independent Brethren congregations: Calvary Chapel of Hartsville, Ohio; Webster Mills Free Brethren Church of McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania; and Little Country Chapel of Myersburg, Maryland. Prime leader in the new association was G. Henry Besse (d.1962), a former member of the Reformed Church who had in 1937 become a minister among the Dunkard Brethren. He withdrew from their fellowship in 1953 complaining about their strictures agains wearing neckties, wristwatches and jewelry and their demands that women always wear the prayer veil or cap. Former members of the Church of the Brethren were also opposed to that church's participation in the National Council of Churches.

In general, members of the association follow Brethren doctrine and practice. They reject as unbiblical participation in war, but allow members to accept noncombatant military service. They do not allow the taking of oaths, suing at law (including for reason of divorce), or wearing ornamental adornment. They do not practice the kiss of peace.

The association meets annually to elect officers and conduct business. Ministers are chosen from among the congregation's members. They are not required to have advanced education. G. Henry Besse was succeeded by his two sons, Lynn Besse and Clair Besse, both of whom have pastored Calvary Chapel.

Membership: Not reported.

943

Bible Brethren

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Bible Brethren was formed in 1948 by a small group who withdrew from the Lower Cumberland (Cumberland County, Pennsylvania) congregation of the Church of the Brethren. Clair H. Alspaugh (1903-1969), a farmer and painter who had been called to the ministry in the congregation in 1942, led the group that assumed a traditional Brethren posture. Alspaugh protested the Church of the Brethren's association with the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches) and the failure of the Brethren to endorse doctrinal preaching as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The original group constructed a church building following simple nineteenth-century Brethren patterns (with a long preachers' desk and straight-back pews) at Carlisle Springs, Pennsylvania. A second congregation was formed at Campbelltown, Pennsylvania. It was strengthened by the addition of a group under Paul Beidler which had withdrawn from the Dunkard Brethren, but was lost when Biedler led the entire congregation away in 1974 to form Christ's Ambassadors. A third congregation of Bible Brethren formed in 1954 at Locust Grove Chapel, near Abbotstown, York County, Pennsylvania.

Membership: In 1979 there were approximately 100 members of the Bible Brethren in two congregations.

Sources:

Gleim, Elmer Q. Change and Challenge: A History of the Church of the Brethren in the Southern District of Pennsylvania. Harrisburg, PA: Southern District Conference History Committee, 1973.

944

Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio)

524 College Ave.
Ashland, OH 44805

Agitation among the German Baptist Brethren began in the late nineteenth century against what some considered outmoded practices. The lack of educational opportunities, an unlearned clergy, and the plain dress were main objections. The crisis came to a head with the expulsion in 1882 of Henry R. Holsinger of Berlin, Pennsylvania. Holsinger leader of the Progressives in the church, had objected to the authority of the annual meeting over the local congregation. Others left with him and in 1883 formed the Brethren Church.

The Brethren Church is like the Church of the Brethren in many respects, with the exceptions of having been the first to move toward an educated and salaried ministry, modern dress, and missions. While generally conservative in theology, and expecting a high degree of doctrinal consensus among its ministers, the church has refused to adopt a statement of faith (though it does have a doctrinal statement) on the grounds that the New Testament is its creed. During the 1930s, a group supportive of a dispensational fundamentalist doctrinal position left the church to found the National Fellowship of Brethren Churches, now the Fellowship of Grace Brethren. The church practices baptism by trine immersion, a communion service usually in the evening which includes footwashing, and the laying on of hands for ordination and for confirmation, and anointing and laying on of hands for healing. Elders (ordained ministers) lead the church in spiritual affairs.

The church follows a congregational polity and an annual conference conducts common business. Missionary activity is supported in Argentina, Colombia, India, Malaysia, Peru, Paraguay, and Mexico. The church is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Membership: In 1995 the church reported 13,028 members in 103 churches.

Educational Facilities: Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, Ohio.

Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio.

Periodicals: The Brethren Evangelist. • Insight into Brethren Missions.

Sources:

The Task Force on Brethren History and Doctrine. The Brethren: Growth in Life and Thought. Ashland, OH: Board of Christian Education, Brethren Church, 1975.

945

Christ's Ambassadors

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Christ's Ambassadors traces its origin to a dispute in 1968 within the Dunkard Brethren congregation at Lititz, Pennsylvania. Leaders in the congregation protested an unauthorized prayer meeting conducted by some of the members under the leadership of Paul Beidler. Beidler led the members in withdrawing and forming an independent congregation. The small group affiliated with the Bible Brethren congregation at Campbelltown, Pennsylvania, in 1970. However, four years later Beidler led the entire congregation to withdraw from the Bible Brethren and formed Christ's Ambassadors. The group follows traditional Dunkard Brethren practice and beliefs, but places great emphasis upon the freedom of expression in worship.

Membership: In 1980 Christ's Ambassadors had approximately fifty members meeting in two congregations, one at Cocalico and one at Myerstown, Pennsylvania.

946

Christ's Assembly

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Krefeld, Germany, in the lower Rhine Valley, was one place that dissenting Pietists found relative safety and toleration during the eighteenth century, and several groups, including the one which would later become the Church of the Brethren upon its arrival in America, had members among the Krefeld residents. In 1737 two Danes, Soren Bolle and Simon Bolle, visited Krefeld and joined the Brethren. They soon returned to Copenhagen and began to preach and gather a following. While they had been baptized by the Brethren, they had been influenced as well by other Pietist Groups, most notably the Community of True Inspiration (which later migrated to America and formed the colonies at Amana, Iowa). The movement under the Bolles, Christ's Assembly, spread through Sweden, Norway, and Germany.

During the 1950s Johannes Thalitzer, pastor of Christ's Assembly in Copenhagen, learned of the continued existence of the Brethren in America through his encounter with some remnants of the recently disbanded Danish Mission of the Church of the Brethren. He initiated contact with several Brethren Groups, especially the Old German Baptist Brethren, who sponsored a visit by Thalitzer to the United States in 1959. In subsequent visits he became acquainted with all of the larger Brethren factions, but felt each was deficient in belief and/or practice. In 1967 he organized a branch of Christ's Assembly at a love feast with nine Brethren (from several Brethren groups) at Eaton, Ohio.

Christ's Assembly largely follows Brethren practice, but like the Community of True Inspiration places great emphasis upon the revealed guidance of an apostolic leadership. In more recent years it has been further influenced by the Pentecostal (Charismatic) Movement which has swept through most major denominations.

As Christ's Assembly grew it included members from four states and all the major Brethren branches. A second congregation was formed in the 1970s in Berne, Indiana.

Membership: Christ's Assembly has two congregations and an estimated 100 members.

Sources:

Benedict, F. W., and William F. Rushby. "Christ's Assembly: A Unique Brethren Movement." Brethren Life and Thought18 (1973): 33-42.

947

Church of the Brethren

1451 Dundee Ave.
Elgin, IL 60120

The Church of the Brethren developed out of the wave of radical Pietism in early eighteenth-century Germany. Hearing William Penn's invitation to come to the American colonies, most of the Brethren immigrated; those who remained were absorbed into the Mennonite movement. Their first American congregation was instituted in Germantown, Pennsylvania, on Christmas Day 1723. Important leaders of the first generation included Alexander Mack, Sr. (1679-1735), the first recognized minister; Christopher Sauer II (1721-1784), a noted colonial printer; Alexander Mack, Jr.(1712-1803); and Peter Becker (1687-1758). Until the early twentieth century, Brethren were commonly known as "Dunkers" (or Tunker), after their manner of thrice-fold immersion baptism. The formal name, German Baptist Brethren, used during most of the nineteenth century, was changed to the current designation on the anniversary of the church's bicentennial in 1908.

In colonial Pennsylvania, the Brethren shared with the Mennonites a German cultural background and Anabaptist theology, and with the Friends (Quakers) a commitment to peace and simplicity. All of these groups sought a separation from secular influences, wore distinctive plain dress, and opposed slavery. Brethren practiced strong church discipline (although not the ban), selected leaders who were not salaried or expected to obtain theological education, and refrained from voting, taking oaths, or entering lawsuits. One of the most distinctive features of Brethren worship has been their observance of the love feast, a communion service that includes foot washing, a love meal, and the taking of unleavened bread and wine/grape juice.

As one of the historic peace churches, Brethren were opposed to military service in the American Revolution and the Civil War. This resulted in limited persecution, including fines and imprisonment. The program of alternative service has been available to conscientious objectors in World War II and later conflicts.

Although the early Brethren were open to urban life, most preferred an agricultural setting and followed the farming frontier across the continent. Congregations were established in Kentucky and Ohio during the 1790s, Missouri and Illinois during the 1810s, and California and Oregon during the 1850s. Brethren settlement of the West at the turn of the century was greatly aided through colonization programs of the transcontinental railroads. The small movement of Brethren into Canada was aided by the Canadian Pacific Railroad, encouraging immigration in the early twentieth century. Between 1903 and 1922 as many as twelve congregations, mostly in Alberta and Saskatchewan, were founded. By 1968 only two of these congregations remained and they became part of the United Church of Canada.

The Brethren began to meet in a yearly meeting for worship and business during the 1740s, although no minutes were recorded until the 1780s. By the 1840s a delegated conference of lay representatives and ministers had become the highest authority in the church. Following the Civil War, the church took an active interest in missionary work (foreign and domestic), publishing, and education. Foreign mission efforts began in Denmark in the 1890s. Fields were also opened in India, China, Nigeria, and Equador. The Brethren Press, founded in 1897, produced a supply of books, periodicals, church school materials, and other literature. Numerous educational institutions were founded, six of which evolved into fully accredited independent liberal arts colleges and a university. The church also supported a theological seminary.

Tensions within the denomination in the late nineteenth century produced a painful three-way division. In addition to the original group, an "old order" movement that opposed innovation and venerated the tradition of earlier Brethren organized the Old German Baptist Brethren in 1881. A "progressive" faction organized the Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio) in 1883.

The twentieth century has seen rapid change in Brethren life. Following an important decision on dress at the annual conference of 1911, the distinctive dress of the church has virtually disappeared. The free, plural ministry was transformed into salaried, professional pastoral leadership. Women became eligible for ordination in 1957. Efforts at evangelism and new church development have produced a more inclusive membership that includes several black, hispanic, and Korean congregations.

The extensive world mission program began a process of dramatic change in 1955, resulting in the creation of indigenous and independent religious bodies. The Ecuadorian congregations joined the United Evangelical Church of Ecuador in 1965; the India mission program merged into the Church of North India in 1970; and the Nigerian churches became the independent Brethren Church of Nigeria in 1973. The mission program in China folded when western missionaries were sent home in 1950.

Perhaps Brethren have been best known around the world for their efforts in relief and rehabilitation work in Europe following World War II. Brethren service projects later stretched into India and China and fostered ecumenical organizations such as Heifer Project International, founded by layman Dan West, Christian Rural Overseas Program (CROP), and International Christian Youth Exchange (ICYE). The denomination also organized and administers SEERV (Salves Exchange for Refugee Rehabilitation Vocations), the largest marketing program of its type for third world handicrafts.

Since 1946 a general board of 25 members elected by the annual conference employs a program and administrative staff in the areas of parish ministries, world ministries and disaster response, publishing, and stewardship. The general offices and Brethren Press are located in Elgin, Illinois; a service center is operated in New Windsor, Maryland. The church is a founding member of both the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches. The Brethren Church of Nigeria is also a member of the World Council.

Membership: In 1996 the Brethren reported 141,811 members, 1,106 congregations, and 1,946 ordained ministers in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Educational Facilities: Bethany Theological Seminary, Oak Brook, Illinois.

Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, Virginia.
Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.
Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
Manchester College, North Manchester, Indiana.
McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas.
University of La Verne, La Verne, California.

Periodicals: Messenger. • Brethren Life and Thought. Available from Bethany Theological Seminary, Butterfield and Meyer Rds., Oak Brook, IL 60521.

Sources:

Book of Worship, The Church of the Brethren. Elgin, IL: Brethren Press, 1964.

Bowman, Carl. Brethren Society. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.

Durnbaugh, Donald F. Fruit of the Vine: A History of the Brethren, 1708-1995. Elgin, IL: Brethren Press, 1997.

Durnbaugh, Donald F., ed. The Brethren Encyclopedia. 3 vols. Philadelphia, PA: Brethren Encyclopedia, 1983.

Mallot, Floyd E. Studies in Brethren History. Elgin, IL: Brethren Publishing House, 1954.

Manual of Brotherhood Organization and Polity. Elgin, IL: Church of the Brethren, General Offices, 1965.

Sappington, Roger E., ed. The Brethren in the New Nation. Elgin, IL: Brethren Press, 1976.

948

Conservative German Baptist Brethren

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Conservative German Baptist Brethren is a small Brethren body body which dates to the 1931 withdrawal of a group under the leadership of Clayton F. Weaver and Ervin J. Keeny from the Dunkard Brethren Church in Pennsylvania. In 1946 Loring I. Moss, a prominent exponent of the conservative element of the Brethren Movement and one of the organizers of the Dunkard Brethren Church, withdrew and formed the Primitive Dunkard Brethren. Noting the similar concern to keep stricter Brethren standards, Moss led his new group into the Conservative German Baptist Brethren, though personally, he later withdrew and joined the Old Brethren.

Membership: In 1980 the Conservative German Baptist Brethren had two congregations, one at New Madison, Ohio, with ten members and one at Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, with twenty-five members.

949

Conservative Grace Brethren Churches

℅ Grace Brethren Church
531 Marion Ave.
Mansfield, OH 44902

The Conservative Grace brethren Churches, International resulted from a split in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches in 1992. Those who formed the new church represented the most conservative element of the fellowship while continuing its formal agreement with the fellowship's "statement of Faith" which had been adopted in 1969. In their slightly revised Statement of Faith, with clarifications adopted in 1994, the Conservative Brethren affirm the inerrancy of Scripture (rather than simply its infallibility), the pre-existence of Christ prior to the incarnation in Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit in indwelling believers from the moment of regeneration and empowering them for Christian life and service. They tie belief in the Trinity to the practice of triune immersion, the importance of which is emphasized. It is noted that confession of faith and triune immersion are the essential requirements for church membership and that triune immersion shall not be abandoned except for medical reasons of a physical nature. It also reemphasized the triune nature of the communion service that must include the "washing of the saints' feet, the Lord's Supper, and the communion of the bread and the cup."

The very conservative stance of the new church is especially demonstrated in its belief in "the recent, direct creation of the heavens, the earth, and all their hosts, without pre-existing material, in six literal 24-hour days" and an understanding of hell as offering eternal punishment while unbelievers are in a conscious state.

The Conservative Brethren are organized as an association of autonomous local church's cooperating in fellowship and work.

Membership: Not reported. In 2002, the fellowship included 47 congregations.

Sources:

Conservative Grace Brethren Churches. http://www.bright.net/~dmoeller/cgbci/. 10 April 2002.

950

Dunkard Brethren Church

℅ Dale E. Jamison, Chairman
Board of Trustees
Quinter, KS 67752

The Dunkard Brethren Church grew out of a conservative movement within the Church of the Brethren which protested what it saw as a worldly drift and a lowering of standards in the church. The movement formed around The Bible Monitor, a periodical begun in 1922 by B. E. Kesler, a minister who had joined the Church of the Brethren in the first decade of the twentieth century. He was one of seven people chosen to write the report on dress standards adopted by the church in 1911. However, in the ensuing decade he saw the dress standards being increasingly ignored. Men began to wear ties and women were adopting fashionable clothes and modern hair styles. Kesler also protested the acceptance of lodge and secret society membership, divorce and remarriage, and a salaried educated ministry (which was pushing aside the traditional lay eldership).

The emergence of the Bible Monitor movement led to much tension within the Church of the Brethren. In 1923 Kesler was refused a seat at the annual conference. That same year he met with supporters at Denton, Maryland, to further organize efforts to reform the church. Subsequent meetings were held in different locations over the next few years. However, by 1926 it became evident that the church would not accept the movement's perspective, and at a meeting at Plevna, Indiana, the Dunkard Brethren Church was organized.

The Dunkard Brethren Church follows traditional Brethren beliefs and practices, and until recently has rebaptized members who joined from less stict branches of the church. The Dunkard Brethren adopted and enforces the dress standards accepted by the Church of the Brethren in 1911. Modesty and simplicity (though not uniformity) of dress is required. No gold or other jewelry is worn. Women keep their hair long and simply styled. They generally wear a white cap. Men cut their hair short. Divorce and remarriage are not allowed. Life insurance is discouraged. No musical instruments are used in worship.

The church has three orders of ministry. Elders marry, bury, and administer the ordinances; ministers preach and assist the elders in their sacramental role; deacons attend to temporal matters. All are laymen elected by their local congregations. The standing committee, composed of al1 the elders of the church, has general oversight of the church. Together with the ministers and elders elect ed by the local churches as delegates, they form the general conference, the highest legislative body in the church. Its decisions are final on all matters brought before it. The church is organized into four districts which meet annually.

The Dunkard Brethren Church also supports the Torreon Navajo Mission in New Mexico.

Membership: In 1980 the Dunkard Brethren reported 1,035 members in twenty-six congregations.

Periodicals: The Bible Monitor. Available from the editor at 1138 E. 12th St., Beaumont, CA 92223.

Sources:

Dunkard Brethren Church Manual. Dunkard Brethren Church, 1971.

Dunkard Brethren Church Polity. N.p. 1980

Minutes of the General Conference of the Dunkard Brethren Church from 1927 to 1975. Wauseon, OH: Glanz Lithographing Company, 1976.

951

Emmanuel's Fellowship

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Emmanuel's Fellowship was formed in 1966 by members of the Old Order River Brethren, under the leadership of Paul Goodling of Greencastle, Pennsylvania. Goodling rejected the Brethren's insistence on baptism by immersion and their allowing members to accept social security benefits. The fellowship baptizes by pouring, as the candidate stands in water. There are very strict dress requirements.

Membership: Not reported. In 1967 there was one congregation of 15 members.

952

Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches

Winona Lake, IN 46590

The movement which led to the founding of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches developed within the Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio) during the 1930s. Conservatives within the Church voiced concern over liberal tendencies within the church and more particularly at the church-supported school, Ashland College. Led by ministers such as Alva J. McClain, the National Ministerial Association drew up and adopted the "Message of the Brethren Ministry," a statement of the Brethren position. The entire church refused to adopt the statement on the grounds that it seemed to be a substitute for their adherence to the New Testament as their only creed.

Conservatives scored a second victory in 1930 when a graduate school of theology opened at Ashland under McClain's leadership. However, in 1937, both McClain, then dean of the school, and Professor Herman A. Hoyt were dismissed. Their supporters organized Grace Theological Seminary as a new institution for ministerial training, which set the stage for a confrontation at the 1939 General Conference of the Church. After the exclusion of some of the new seminary's supporters, all walked out and formed the National Fellowship of Brethren Churches, which in 1976 assumed its present name.

The new church adopted the 1921 "Message of the Brethren Ministry" as its doctrinal position. That document was replaced in 1969 by a revised and expanded "Statement of Faith." The new statement affirms the conservative evangelical theology of the original document but adds a lengthy statement on various eschatological issues such as the premillennial return of Christ, eternal punishment for nonbelievers and a belief in a personal Satan. The church practices baptism by triune immersion and a threefold communion that includes footwashing, a meal, and partaking of the elements of bread and the cup.

The Fellowship adopted a congregational polity. The Conference of the Fellowship meets annually and oversees the several schools and a vigorous mission program. The Foreign Mission Society operates in Argentina, Brazil, Africa, France, Germany, Hawaii, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The National Council of Churches is stanchly opposed.

Membership: In 1996 the fellowship reported 34,500 members, 270 congregations, and 562 ministers.

Educational Facilities: Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana.

Grace College, Winona Lake, Indiana.

Periodicals: Brethren Missionary Herald.

Sources:

Baumann, Louis S. The Faith. Winona Lake, IN: Brethren Missionary Herald Co., 1960.

Hoyt, Herman A. Then Would My Servants Fight. Winona Lake, IN: Brethren Missionary Herald Co., 1956.

Kent, Homer A., Sr. Conquering Frontiers: A History of the Brethren Church. Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1972.

McClain, Alva J. Daniel's Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publications, n.d.

953

Fundamental Brethren Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Fundamental Brethren Church was formed in 1962 by former members of four congregations of the Church of the Brethren in Mitchell County, North Carolina, under the leadership of Calvin Barnett. The doctrinally conservative group adopted the "Message of the Brethren Ministry," a statement written by some ministers in the Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio) in the 1920s as their doctrinal standard. Among the issues involved in their leaving the Church of the Brethren, its participation in the National Council of Churches and use of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible were prominent. The group added to its doctrinal statement that the King James Version of the Bible is authoritative. It also adopted a fundamental premillennial dispensational theological stance. By 1967, there were four congregations with 200 members.

Membership: In the 1970s there were 3 congregations of less than 200 members.

954

Independent Brethren Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Independent Brethren Church was formed in 1972. On February 12 of that year, the Upper Marsh Creek congregation at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, of the Church of the Brethren withdrew and became an independent body. Later that year, members from the Antietam congregation left and established the independent Blue Rock congregation near Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. These two congregations united as the Independent Brethren Church. They are conservative in their following of Brethren belief and practice. They have kept the plain dress and oppose any affiliation with the National Council of Churches.

Membership: In 1980 the Independent Brethren Church had approximately 85 members in two congregations.

955

Old Brethren Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Old Brethren Church, generally termed simply the Old Brethren, is a name taken by two congregations which split from the Old German Baptist Brethren in 1913 (Deer Creek congregation in Carroll County, Indiana) and in 1915 (Salida congregation in Stanislaus County, California). Though widely separated geographically, the two congregations banded together and in 1915 published The Old Brethren's Reasons, a twenty-four page pamphlet outlining their position. The Old Brethren dissented from the Old German Baptist Brethren's refusal to make annual meeting decisions uniformly applicable and from their allowing divergences of practice and discipline among the different congregations. Also, the Old Brethren called for greater strictness in plain dress and called for houses and carriages shorn of any frills which would gratify the lust of the eye.

In particular, the Old Brethren denounced the automobile and the telephone. Use of either caused a believer to be hooked into the world and inevitably led to church members being yoked together with unbelievers. In practice, over the years, the Old Brethren have been forced to change and have come to closely resemble the group from which they originally withdrew. Even prior to World War II, they began to make accommodation to the automobile.

Members of the Old Brethren meet annually at Pentecost, but keep legislation to a minimum. They allow the congregations to retain as much authority as possible.

Beginning with two congregations, the Old Brethren Church has experienced growth in spite of a schism in 1930 that led to the formation of the Old Brethren German Baptist Church. A third meeting house was built in the 1970s.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: The Pilgrim. Send orders to 19201 Cherokee Road, Tuolumne, CA 95379.

Sources:

Kraybill, Donald B., and Carl F. Bowman. On the Backroad to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

956

Old Brethren German Baptist Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Old Brethren German Baptist Church originated among the most conversative members of the Old Brethren Church and the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church. Around 1930 members of the Old Brethren Deer Creek congregation near Camden, Indiana, began to fellowship with the Old Order Brethren in the Covington, Ohio, area. However, by 1935 the traditionalist Old Brethren found themselves unable to continue their affiliations with the Ohio Brethren. They continued as an independent congregation until they made contact with a few Old Order Brethren near Bradford, Ohio, who met in the home of Solomon Lavy. In 1939 the two groups merged and adopted the name Old Brethren German Baptist Church. They were joined in 1953 by a group of Old Order Brethren from Arcanum, Ohio.

The Old Brethren is the most conservative of all Brethren groups. They use neither automobiles, tractors, electricity, or telephones. Their only accommodation to modern mechanization is that they do permit occasional use of stationary gasoline engines and will hire nonmembers for specific tasks requiring machinery. Members follow a strict personal code of nonconformity to the world. Homes and buggies are plainly furnished and simply painted. No gold or jewelry is worn. Farmers do not raise or habitually use tobacco. Members do not vote or purchase life insurance.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

Kraybill, Donald B., and Carl F. Bowman. On the Backroad to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Menonites, Amish, and Brethren. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

957

Old German Baptist Brethren

Rte. 1, Box 140
Bringhurst, IN 46913

The Old German Baptist Brethren represents the conservative wing in the Brethren movement. This group withdrew in 1881. The group was protesting innovative tendencies and was opposed to Sunday schools, missions, higher education, and church societies and auxiliaries. It has lessened its opposition to higher education among members and now sponsors parochial schools. No missions are supported, and children attend the regular services of the church instead of having a church school.

The Old German Baptist Brethren wear plain clothes and are committed to non-participation in war, government, secret societies, and worldly amusements. They also object to participation in government (i.e., voting) even by members whose conscience otherwise allows it. They remain conservative on oaths, lawsuits, non-salaried ministry, and veiled heads for women at worship.

Membership: In 2002 the Brethren reported 6,205 members in 56 churches served by 236 ministers.

Periodicals: The Vindicator. Send orders to 6952 N. Montgomery Co. Line Rd., Englewood, OH 45322.

Sources:

Fisher, H. M., et al. Doctrinal Treatise. Covington, OH: Little Printing Company, 1954.

958

Old Order German Baptist Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

As the Old German Baptist Brethren continued to deal with questions of accommodating to a fast-moving society in the early twentieth century, a group of members withdrew in 1921 because of the departure of the Old German Baptist Brethren from the established order and old paths. The petitioners, as they were informally called, could be found throughout the brethren, but were concentrated in the congregations at Covington and Arcanum, Ohio.

Staunchly set against most modern conveniences, the Old Order German Baptists have over the year been forced to accommodate. Automobiles are forbidden, but tractors are now allowed for farm work. Members do not use electricity or telephones. Increasingly, younger members have been forced to leave the farm and seek employment in nonfarm occupations.

Membership: In 1980 the church had less than 100 members and three congregations, all in Ohio (Gettysburg, Covington, and Arcanum).

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