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Plymouth brethren

Plymouth brethren, Christian brethren, or Darbyites, began in Dublin in the mid-1820s when groups of young men, several from Trinity College, met for communion regardless of denomination. With no intention of starting a separate movement, they did exactly that, thanks to J. N. Darby (1800–82), a non-practising barrister who had recently resigned his Anglican orders. Growth in the 1830s was followed by predictable tensions in the 1840s, especially in Bristol and Plymouth. These culminated in the ‘Bethesda Question’ (1848), which divided brethren into open and exclusive sections. Henry Craik (1804–66), of Bethesda, Bristol, believed that all Christians should be welcome at the breaking of bread. Darby did not; for him, believers were called from the ruined church to witness against the errors of the last days. Thereafter Darby led the exclusives while men like A. N. Groves (1795–1853), the Exeter dentist who became a missionary to Baghdad and India, were associated with the open. Despite this division they remained similar in beliefs and structure: a world-denying pietism; the Bible as their supreme rule; an interest in prophecy and the Second Coming; believers' baptism; weekly breaking of bread; no set liturgy; no ordained ministry, though many full-time evangelists; a congregational polity with no co-ordinating organization. Despite their fissiparous tendencies, they spread steadily. In England and Ireland they attracted an educated membership with rather an aristocratic veneer. In Scotland, where they benefited from the revival of 1859–60, they spread in industrial and fishing communities, especially in the north-east. They also spread in Europe and the empire with missions (‘Christian Missions in Many Lands’) in central Africa, India, and Latin America. Popularly stamped with the exclusive image, reinforced in the 1960s when one exclusive section withdrew its members from universities and professional activities, their ideal atmosphere is better seen as one of spiritual and intellectual liberty set in a context of brotherly love.

Clyde Binfield

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Plymouth Brethren

Plymouth Brethren, group of Christian believers originating in the early 19th cent. in Ireland and spreading from there to the Continent (especially Switzerland), the British dominions, and the United States. One of their notable leaders was John Nelson Darby; the members are sometimes known as Darbyites. They refer to themselves as Brethren, Christians, or Believers. In a reaction against the formality of prescribed ritual, the requirements of ministerial ordination, and other established conditions in the churches of the times, groups of believers began to meet independently in Dublin and elsewhere for spiritual communion. Associations were formed c.1828 in Dublin and c.1830 at Plymouth, England, whence the popular name Plymouth Brethren. Brethren hold differing opinions concerning baptism and expect the personal premillennial second coming of Christ. The Lord's Supper, as a commemorative act of worship, is observed once a week. Followers of different leaders withdrew from time to time from the main body to form new congregations. This tendency to divide was carried over into the United States and Canada by emigrants, who established new meetings of the Brethren there. In the United States there are eight separate divisions, some of the exclusive type, stressing congregational interdependency, and some of the open type, stressing the independence of congregations. Basically fundamentalist, the Brethren consider the Scriptures the only true guide. No officers are chosen to preside over the congregations; the privileges and duties of the ministry depend upon the personal gift of the individual member. Membership in the United States is c.98,000.

See study by F. R. Coad (1968).

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Brethren, Plymouth

Brethren, Plymouth. A movement within Christianity, so-called from the location of its first tract depot in England, although it had been founded previously in Ireland (1828). An early leader was J. N. Darby (1800–82). It sought to establish life and the Church on Biblical, especially New Testament, principles, and laid emphasis on the millennium and on separation from evil. There have been a number of divisions, notably between the Open and the Exclusive Brethren.

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Plymouth Brethren

Plymouth Brethren a strict Calvinistic religious body formed at Plymouth in Devon c.1830, having no formal creed and no official order of ministers. Its teaching emphasizes an expected millennium and members renounce many secular occupations, allowing only those compatible with New Testament standards. As a result of doctrinal and other differences, a split in 1849 resulted in the formation of the Exclusive Brethren and the Open Brethren.

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Plymouth Brethren

Plymouth Brethren Strictly Puritan sect of evangelical Christians, founded in Ireland in the late 1820s by J. N. Darby, an ordained Anglican. Their name comes from the sect's first English centre at Plymouth in 1831. In 1849 they split into two groups, the ‘Open Brethren’ and the ‘Exclusive Brethren’, and have since split further.

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Plymouth Brethren

Plymouth Brethren. See BRETHREN, PLYMOUTH.

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Plymouth Brethren

Plymouth Brethren

Christian Brethren (Open or Plymouth Brethren)

Churches of God (Needed Truth)

Plymouth Brethren (Ames Brethren)

Plymouth Brethren (Ex-Taylor Brethren)

Plymouth Brethren (Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren)

Plymouth Brethren (Reunited Brethren)

Plymouth Brethren (Tunbridge Wells Brethren)

Christian Brethren (Open or Plymouth Brethren)

c/o Walterick Publishing Ministries, PO Box 3831, Olathe, KS 66063-3831

The Christian Brethren (Open or Plymouth Brethren) came to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century and grew by evangelistic efforts. They prospered in part because John Nelson Darby’s ideas on eschatology were being accepted by many mainline American Protestants, and dispensational thinking was spreading. In some cases, the Open Brethren increased by the movement of Exclusive Grant Brethren churches into their ranks.

Although there is no generally accepted statement of faith for the Open Brethren, one statement used in some assemblies affirms the Bible as the inerrant Word of God; the Trinity; the depravity of man and the necessity of salvation by grace through faith; the church as composed of all true believers in Jesus Christ; two ordinances, baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper; the security of the believer (once a person is truly a child of God, that status is secure for all time); and pretribulation premillennialism (that is, Christ will return before the tribulation and before the millennium.) (For a discussion of various positions on the millennium, see the introductory material for this volume.) Brethren assemblies (congregations) usually are led by elders recognized by the local congregation. Assemblies celebrate a weekly communion service at which many are encouraged to speak or pray. Concerted efforts to fellowship with like-minded Christians in other groups such as InterVarsity Fellowship and the Billy Graham crusades are characteristic. Open Brethren see themselves as a part of mainstream evangelicalism.

Some Open Brethren assemblies were originally a part of the Plymouth Brethren (Grant Brethren), named after Frederick W. Grant, a nineteenth-century leader among the Exclusive Brethren in the Northeast. The Loizeaux Brothers, Bible Truth Depot, long identified with the Grant Brethren as a publishing house, also identified with the Open Brethren.

There are no central headquarters for the Open Brethren, but several structures have become the focus of the assemblies’cooperative endeavor. The extensive foreign missionary work of the Open Brethren is publicized and served by Christian Missions in Many Lands, Inc. (U.S.A.) and Missionary Service Committee (Canada), who jointly publish a periodical, Missions, from central offices in Wall, New Jersey. The corporations do not designate missionaries, a function left to local assemblies, but do transmit funds and facilitate relations with foreign governments. Other missionary agencies included Workers Together of Wheaton, Illinois, which published a newsletter that bears its name. Workers Together no longer exists. International Teams operates a missionary center and sponsors teams of short-term missionaries from its headquarters in Prospect Heights, Illinois. International Teams reported that it has sent 1,024 workers to 170 teams in 62 countries.

Walterick Publishers of Olathe, Kansas, is the publisher and book distributor for the Open Brethren. It also publishes an annual directory of assemblies in North America and the Caribbean. Truth and Praise, Inc., of Belle Chasse, Louisiana, publishes three Open Brethren hymnals. There are a number of other small, independent publishers who produce a variety of tracts and booklets. Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque, Iowa, founded in 1945, provides a two-year associate of arts program in a Bible-related curriculum as well as four-year degrees in basic and elementary education. Mount Carmel Bible of Edmonton, Alberta, and Kawartha Lakes Bible School in Peterborough, Ontario, provide a one-year Bible curriculum. Many ministers attend one of several conservative evangelical seminaries such as Dallas Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, or Talbot School of Theology for further training. The Address Book, published by Walterick Publishers, lists 19 homes for the elderly and one children’s home. Open Brethren operate 54 summer camps in the United States and Canada. In Great Britain, the Open Brethren are served by the publishing firm of Pickering and Inglis of Glasgow and London, which publishes a directory of assemblies worldwide.

Membership

Not reported.

Educational Facilities

Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque, Iowa.

Mount Carmel Bible School, Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Kawartha Lakes Bible School, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

Periodicals

Missions, Christian Missions in Many Lands. Send orders to PO Box 13, Spring Lake, NJ 07762. • Uplook. Send orders to PO Box 2041, Grand Rapids, MI 49501.

Sources

Christian Missions in Many Lands, Inc.: www.cmmlusa.org.

Emmaus Bible College. www.emmaus.edu.

International Teams. www.iteams.org.

Walterick Publishing Ministries. www.walterick.org.

Barker, Harold B. Why I Abandoned Exclusivism. Fort Dodge, IA: Walterick, n.d.

Bayliss, Robert. My People. Port Colborne, ON: Gospel Folio Press, 1995.

Conrad, William W. Family Matters. Wheaton, IL: Interest Ministries, 1992.

Darms, Anton. The Abundant Gospel. New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Bible Truth Depot, 1941.

MacDonald, William. What the Bible Teaches. Oak Park, IL: Emmaus Correspondence School, 1949.

North American Missions: 1995 Resource Guide. Wheaton, IL: Interest Ministries, 1995.

Porter, Carol, and Mike Hamel, eds. Women’s Ministry Handbook. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992.

Smart, John. Historical Sketch of Assembly Missions. New York: Christian Missions in Many Lands, 1966.

A Younger Brother [A. Rendle Short]. The Principles of Christians Called “Open Brethren,” Glasgow, U.K.: Pickering and Inglis, 1913.

Churches of God (Needed Truth)

The Church of God in Toronto, Sheppard Gospel Hall, 720 Sheppard Ave. W, North York, ON, Canada M3H 256

In the 1870s questions began to arise among the Plymouth Brethren (Open Brethren) as to just how far they should go in their openness. Discussions led to several separations by groups with different solutions. One strict group formed around the periodical Needed Truth, which began in 1889. The bulk of separations of Needed Truth supporters began in 1892–1893. Early in the twentieth century, the movement spread from England to North America, primarily to Canada. The Needed Truth groups, called Churches of God, are most properly described as open, in that they are willing to fellowship with like-minded believers who are not members of the Churches of God and constitute a bridge between the Open and the Exclusive Brethren groups.

The distinctive teaching of the Churches of God concerns ecclesiology. This group believes that the “church which is Christ’s body” is composed totally of believers in Christ. The fellowship of the Churches of God is composed of those who received the Word and who live in obedience, having been baptized by other disciples (Churches of God elders) and having been “added” by the Lord. “Addition” means that a believer is associated with the churches where the proper authority of Christ is expressed, that is, with churches in fellowship with the Churches of God. There is a tendency toward exclusivism in that assemblies of the Churches of God feel that all brethren (ultimately, all Christians) ought to be a part of their fellowship.

The Churches of God constitutes the only group of Brethren that has developed what approaches a presbyterial polity. Elders of the Churches of God have powers similar to those of presbyters in the Presbyterian Church, with the duty of leading the worship services, setting doctrinal standards, ruling on governmental matters, and teaching. Government in the Churches of God is placed in the hands of a united elderhood. Local assemblies function as the constituencies of elders who operate on both the local and regional levels. A premium is placed on consensus of the elders. The elders or overseers form a self-perpetuating body. They appoint deacons, and from the deacons choose new elders. Regular meetings of the overseers occur.

The worldwide Churches of God conducts a radio ministry called Search for Truth and publishes written materials through Hayes Press in Wiltshire, England. In 2008 it updated its 120-year-old periodical Needed Truth into NT magazine, published monthly.

Membership

While the Churches of God has long been a substantive movement in Britain, in 2008 the fellowship reported only seven churches in North America, five of them in Canada and two in the United States, both in Colorado.

Periodicals

NT (Needed Truth). Available from www.churchesofgod.info/~brian/index.html.

Sources

Churches of God. www.churchesofgod.info/.

About Churches of God. raq930.uk2.net/tapedministry/articles/aboutcog1.htm.

Willis, G., and B. R. Wilson. “The Churches of God: Pattern and Practice.” In Patterns of Sectarianism. Edited by Bryan R. Wilson. London: Heinemann, 1967.

Plymouth Brethren (Ames Brethren)

c/o Christian Literature, Inc., Box 1052, Anoka, MN 55303-1052

Among the several factions that developed among the Plymouth Brethren were the Ames Brethren. This group originated with a preacher named Ames, who worked among the Plymouth Brethren (Booth Brethren), now a constituent part of the Plymouth Brethren (Reunited Brethren). He distrusted the teachings and practice of the Plymouth Brethren (Glanton Brethren), a group with whom the Booth Brethren cooperated in England. Those supporting Ames’s opinions separated from the Booth Brethren in 1949.

The Ames Brethren believe the Bible to be the Word of God. Although they hold to no creed, they believe that the Scriptures teach the fall of humanity and humans’ lost condition, the love of God in providing a savior, the perfection of Christ, the atonement of Christ on the cross, the resurrection, the need of a new birth, the assurance of present salvation, and a future of heaven for the saved and eternal punishment for unbelievers. Believers’ hope should not be placed in the improvement of the world, but in the coming of Christ.

Essential to Brethren belief and life is the gathering unto Christ as a divine center over against all human centers. No sectarian names are assumed. The church is guided by the Holy Spirit and has no need of an ordained priesthood or ministry. No salary is paid to preachers of the Word, and no collections are taken at public meetings. Meeting halls are modest in appearance.

As a corrolate to belief in the communion of the saints, the Brethren maintain the necessity of godly order, meaning that no one assembly can be owned as independent and apart from all the assemblies. They believe in holiness and truth that includes the putting away of evil doers, refusing to hear unsound teachers, and marking and avoiding those who cause division. Each local assembly is seen as an expression of the whole assembly of God.

Several publication centers serve the Brethren, especially Christian Literature, Inc. in Minneapolis and Moments with the Book in Bedford, Pennsylvania. Don Johnson, a printer and editor from Pennsylvania, presents a weekly radio show, Moments with the Book, which has been heard over 22 stations in the United States and one in the Bahamas. Bible conferences are held annually in Iowa and Pennsylvania.

Membership

Not reported. Membership records are not kept.

Periodicals

Moments with the Bible. • Moments for Youth. Send orders to Box 322, Bedford, PA 15522. • Words of Truth. • Fellowship Letters. Available from Aldridge F. Johnson, Rte. 1, Box 33, Isanti, MN 55040.

Sources

Smith, Hamilton. Perspectives on the True Church. Minneapolis, MN: Christian Literature, n.d.

Plymouth Brethren (Ex-Taylor Brethren)

Current address not obtained for this edition.

In 1960 several assemblies left the Plymouth Brethren (Raven-Taylor Brethren) because of the restrictions enunciated by the James Taylor Jr. faction. This group is small, probably divided among itself, and is in correspondence with some similar assemblies in Britain.

Membership

Not reported.

Plymouth Brethren (Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren)

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren is a branch of the Plymouth Brethren, also known as Exclusive Brethren. This Protestant branch holds a separatist doctrine, believing that God’s principal of unity is achieved by excluding evil. Few individuals not born in the Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren become members. The branch encourages traditional marriage and family life. Members abide by the laws of their country as long as the laws do not contradict the Bible.

Children live at home until they marry, and they marry within their fellowship. Children attend branch-run schools and are discouraged from attending college. Social activities are restricted to within the fellowship. Members do not eat in public restaurants. The branch has banned the use of television, radio, and computers, although recently the use of computers has been allowed.

John Nelson Darby (1800–1882) was the first leader of the branch. He was followed by J. B. Stoney (1814–1897), F. E. Raven (1837–1903), C. A. Coates (1862–1945), and James Taylor Sr. (1870–1953). Taylor, a New York businessman, led the branch into a more separatist path, and he was succeeded by his son, James Taylor Jr. (1899–1970), who demanded a rigorous separation from the world. The Taylor Brethren refused to list their centers in the telephone directories. They encouraged their members to withdraw from professional associations, to resign offices in business corporations, and to dispose of stock. They refused to eat with anyone not in their fellowship. Critics have claimed that Taylor Jr. advocated divorce if any member of a household lost religious fervor. One British newspaper, reporting on Taylor’s return to the United States from England in 1969, commented, “The harsh tenets of this sect have broken up homes and led to misery and suicide. Now he has gone home, Britain’s parting message is ‘good riddance and don’t come back.”

At a conference in 1959 a confrontation took place between Taylor Jr and Gerald R. Cowell of Hornchurch. Cowell promoted a more moderate line in terms of separation from the world, and as a result he was excommunicated from the branch. Several members left the branch during the Taylor ministries. In 1970 Taylor Jr. was allegedly involved in inappropriate behavior involving alcohol. After his death, James Symington, from North Dakota, was elected as the new leader. Symington died in 1987 and passed his ministry to John S. Hales, an Australian businessman. When Hales died in 2002 his son, Bruce David Hales, another Australian businessman, headed the ministry; in 2008 he wasstill serving as leader.

In the United States the majority of members are located in New York and California. Other congregations are located in the Northeast and the Midwest, and there are fewer members in the South. Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot has been their publisher in England for many years. This group is “IV” in the 1936 Religious Census list.

Membership

In 2008 the branch reported more than 40,000 members in 300 assemblies meeting in 19 countries. Large membership exists in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and North America. There are smaller membership figures for Europe and Latin America.

Sources

The Exclusive Brethren Christian Fellowship. www.theexclusivebrethren.com/, F. E. R. [F. E. Raven]. Readings and Addresses in the United States. Kingston-on-Thames, U.K.: Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, 1902.

Gardiner, A. J. The Recovery and Maintenance of the Truth. Kingston-on-Thames, U.K.: Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, n.d.

———. The Substantiality of Christianity. Kingston-on-Thames, U.K.: Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, 1954.

Taylor, James. Administration in the Assembly. London: Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, 1937.

———. Christ’s Personal Service for the Saints. Wellington, NZ: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1925.

Wilson, Bryan. “A Sect at Law.” Encounter 60, no. 1 (January 1983): 81–87.

Plymouth Brethren (Reunited Brethren)

No central headquarters. For information:, Believers Bookshelf, PO Box 261, Sunbury, PA 17801

The Plymouth Brethren (Reunited Brethren) was formed by the coming together of a number of Exclusive Plymouth Brethren groups that had divided into factions in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Their story is told in two segments, first as one of division and then as one of reunion.

One of the earliest schisms of the Brethren centered upon the popular and zealous William Kelly (1820–1906). Kelly, an Irishman, was editor of the Bible Treasury for 50 years and also of the Collected Writings of John Nelson Darby, the prominent early leader of the Brethren. In the 1870s, however, Darby (1800–1882) became associated with a party in the movement known as New-Lumpism. Members of this group attacked the worldliness they saw in the Brethren of their day, and looked with disfavor upon the evangelism that was swelling their ranks with new converts. They yearned for a pure fellowship and advocated the high church principle, namely, that the assembly has the supreme judicial power, and its decisions, which are in accord with scripture, must be accepted. Kelly and his supporters separated in 1881, the year before Darby’s death. The group was limited to England and the West Indies.

Just four years after the Kelly schism, Clarence Esme Stuart (1828–1903) and the few congregations who adhered to him were expelled from the main body of the Exclusive Brethren because his teachings on Christian position and condition were considered to be mystical. In 1885 a division that began in Montreal separated the supporters of Frederick W. Grant (1834–1902), a well known teacher and writer, from Brethren in most countries of the world.

Not many years afterward, around 1890, the majority of assemblies in continental Europe separated. They were the surviving Exclusive Brethren who did not accept either Frederick W. Grant or F. E. Raven (1837–1903), a popular Exclusive Brethren teacher of the late nineteenth century (see separate entries). Also, they sided with C. Strange and W. J. Lowe in 1909 in the Tunbridge Wells controversy (see Plymouth Brethren (Tunbridge Wells)). Although they were strongest on the continent, these Brethren had assemblies across the United States too. In the 1936 Religious Census they were called “III.”

In 1928 the Grant Brethren, the remnants of which are now a constituent part of the Plymouth Brethren (Open Brethren), divided into three factions as the result of a controversy that erupted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One reason for the controversy was the alleged heresy of James Boyd, a visiting British preacher who had written a tract denying that Christ had a human spirit. A second controversy developed between two people within the Philadelphia assembly, C. A. Mory and his business partner C. V. Grant. The partner was accused of deceit, fraud, and misuse of funds. The assembly’s refusal to excommunicate the partner or to brand Boyd’s teachings as heresy led to schism. Adding fuel to the fire of controversy was the contemporaneous movement of some Grant Brethren toward the Open Brethren.

One small group of assemblies (labeled “VII” by the Religious Census) withdrew fellowship from Boyd and any who did not agree with their strong stand. One leader of this faction was R. J. Little, editor of Holding Fast and Holding Faith, though he later joined the Open Brethren and the faculty at Moody Bible Institute.

A larger group of assemblies was led by A. E. Booth, who accepted Boyd’s retraction of his “heretical” position but rejected the Grant Brethren in the move toward the Open Brethren position. He led the formation of the Erie Bible Truth Depot, in Erie, Pennsylvania. In 1932 he began Things Old and New. (The Booth Brethren were numbered “VIII” in the Religious Census.)

The mergers of the separated Brethren occurred in 1926, 1940, 1953, and 1974. The first, in 1926, resulted in the union of the Kelly and Continental Brethren. This action was effective in England, the West Indies, Europe, Egypt, and North America. Then in 1940 the Kelly-Continental Brethren and the British section of the Tunbridge Wells Brethren reunited. However, the U.S. section of the Tunbridge Wells group remains separate to this day and has undergone several internal divisions.

In 1953 the Kelly-Continental Brethren united with the Stuart Brethren and also took in the Mory faction of the former Grant Brethren. This reunion affected assemblies around the world. Finally, in 1974 the previously reunited Brethren merged with the Glanton Brethren (a splinter from the Plymouth Brethren (Raven-Taylor- Hales Brethren)) and the Booth Brethren, which had previously become associated with the Glanton Brethren.

Since then, fresh division has broken out among theses assemblies, and Brethren throughout the world have been affected. Some North American assemblies have left the fellowship, choosing instead a path of greater independence.

The reunion changed little doctrinally with the various segments of the Brethren who reunited, because few of the earlier schisms had a strong doctrinal element, and those few doctrinal questions had become academic. The reunited assemblies now seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit of God and to function as assemblies gathered in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ on the ground of the One Body of Christ, in contrast to acting as independent assemblies. They acknowledge Christ as their only head and the Holy Spirit as the only administrator of the church, and accept the Bible as God’s inspired, infallible word and their all-sufficient guide for doctrine and practice.

The assemblies are organized congregationally and tied together by their like-mindedness and the cooperative activities in which they participate. Missionaries are supported in Africa, the Middle East and surrounding lands, South America, the Caribbean Islands, India, Beamsville, Ontario, Canada, and the Philippines. Believers Bookshelf of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, is the major publisher for the Reunited Brethren in the United States; there are numerous others in other countries. Literature ministry is the major outreach in the Reunited Brethren.

Membership

In 2008 the fellowship reported 100 assemblies in the United States and Canada, and many hundreds in other countries. Worldwide membership is unknown.

Periodicals

Missionary Bulletin. Literature is available through Believers Bookshelf.

Sources

Believers Bookshelf. www.bbusa.org.

Campbell, R. K. The Christian Home. Sudbury, PA: Believers Bookshelf, 1982.

———. The Church of the Living God. Sudbury, PA: Believers Bookshelf, n.d.

———. Reunited Brethren: A Brief Historical Account Including a Brief Statement of Some Vital Principles of Faith. Danville, IL: Grace and Truth, 1990.

Kelly, William. Lectures on the Church of God. Oak Park. IL: Bible Truth Publishers, n.d.

Plymouth Brethren (Tunbridge Wells Brethren)

No central headquarters. For information:, c/o Bible Truth Publishers, 59 Industrial Rd., PO Box 649, Addison, IL 60101

The Plymouth Brethren (Tunbridge Wells Brethren) are a group of the Plymouth Brethren that dates from 1909, when there was an act of discipline in the assembly in Tunbridge Wells, London, England, involving Mr. C. Strange. After moving to London and establishing a business there, Strange’s conduct and participation in meetings, both at home and elsewhere, ultimately resulted in his being excluded. W. J. Lowe, a prominent brother in London, took the lead in rejecting the action of the Tunbridge Wells assembly and in forming a group, later identified by his name as the Lowe Brethren, which included those sympathetic to Strange. Ironically, Strange was a member of that group for only a brief period. However, Lowe found support among the Continental Brethren, who also aligned themselves against the action at Tunbridge Wells.

In 1940 the Tunbridge Wells Brethren were invited to forget the past differences and amalgamate with others who had already been participating in a reunion process. The sponsoring group included the then merged former (William) Kelly, Lowe, Continental, Stuart, and Glanton Brethren, as well as some of the Grant Brethren. Most of the Tunbridge Wells Brethren in England accepted the invitation, and now are a constituent part of the Plymouth Brethren (Reunited Brethren). In North America, however, the Brethren felt that no true reunion could be accomplished without a consensus judgment on the root cause of the 1909 and earlier divisions. They have remained separate.

The Tunbridge Wells Brethren are a worldwide fellowship with assemblies in North, Central, and South America, as well as Australia, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Bible Truth Publishers in Addison, Illinois, is an independent operation, but it is owned and managed by members of the groups and publishes materials especially for it. It issues three periodicals and a number of books, pamphlets, and tracts, including reprints of nineteenth-century Brethren works and the Collected Writings of John Nelson Darby. There is a similar operation known as Bibles and Publications in Montreal, Quebec. A number of smaller publishers issue tracts in English and a variety of foreign languages.

Membership

Membership figures are unavailable for 2008. In 1997 there were more than 180 assemblies.

Periodicals

Echoes of Grace. • Messages of God’s Love.

Sources

Bible Truth Publishers. bibletruthpublishers.com.

Hayhoe, H. E. Present Truth for Christians. St. Louis, MO: Bible Truth Publishers, 1950.

Price, G. H. S. Church History. Addison, IL: Bible Truth Publishers, 1982.

Stanley, Charles. The Church of God. Oak Park, IL: Bible Truth Publishers, n.d.

Wilson, Paul. A Defense of Dispensationalism. Oak Park, IL: Bible Truth Publishers, n.d.

Wolston, W. T. The Church, What Is It? Oak Park, IL: Bible Truth Publishers, 1971.

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Plymouth Brethren

Plymouth Brethren

1076

Christian Brethren (Open or Plymouth Brethren)

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Christian Brethren (Open or Plymouth Brethren) came to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century and grew by evangelistic efforts. They prospered in part because John Nelson Darby's ideas on eschatology were being accepted by many mainline American Protestants, and dispensational thinking was spreading. In some cases, the Open Brethren increased by the movement of Exclusive Grant Brethren churches into their ranks.

While there is no generally accepted statement of faith for the Open Brethren, one statement used in some assemblies affirms the Bible as the inerrant Word of God; the Trinity; the depravity of man, and the necessity of salvation by grace through faith; the church as composed of all true believers in Jesus Christ; two ordinances, baptism by immersion and the Lord's Supper; the security of the believer (once a person is truly a child of God, that status is secure for all time); and pretribulation premillennialism (that is, Christ will return before the tribulation and before the millennium.) (For a discussion of various positions on the millennium see the introductory material for this volume.) Brethren assemblies (congregations) are usually led by elders recognized by the local congregation. Assemblies celebrate a weekly communion service, at which many are encouraged to speak or pray. Concerted efforts to fellowship with like-minded Christians in such other groups as InterVarsity Fellowship and the Billy Graham crusades are characteristic. Open Brethren see themselves as a part of mainstream evangelicalism.

Some Open Brethren assemblies were originally a part of the Plymouth Brethren (Grant Brethren), named after Frederick W. Grant. He was a nineteenth-century leader among the Exclusive Brethren in the northeast. The Loizeaux Brothers, Bible Truth Depot, long identified with the Grant Brethren as a publishing house, also identified with the Open Brethren.

There are no central headquarters for the Open Brethren, but several structures have become the focus of the assemblies' cooperative endeavor. The extensive foreign missionary work of the Open Brethren is publicized and served by Christian Missions in Many Lands, Inc. (U.S.A.) and Missionary Service Committee (Canada), who jointly publish a periodical Mission from central offices in Wall, New Jersey. The corporations do not designate missionaries, a function left to local assemblies, but do transmit funds and facilitate relations with foreign governments. Other missionary agencies include Workers Together of Wheaton, Illinois, which publishes a newsletter that bears its name. International Teams operates a missionary center and sponsors teams of short-term missionaries from its headquarters in Prospect Heights, Illinois.

Walterick Publishers of Kansas City, Kansas, is a main publisher and book distributor for the Open Brethren. It also publishes an annual directory of assemblies in North America and the Caribbean. Truth and Praise, Inc., of Belle Chasse, Louisiana, publishes three Open Brethren hymnals. There are a number of additional small, independent publishers who produce a variety of tracts and booklets. Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque, Iowa, founded in 1945, provides a three-year Associate of Arts program in a Bible-related curriculum as well as four-year degrees in basic and elemantary education. Mount Carmel Bible of Edmonton, Alberta, and Kawartha Lakes Bible School in Peterborough, Ontario, provide a one-year Bible curriculum. Many ministers attend one of several conservative evangelical seminaries such as Dallas Theological Seminary or Trinity Evangelical Divinity School or Talbot School of Theology for further training. The Address Book, published by Walterick Publishers, lists 19 homes for the elderly and one children's home. Open Brethren operate 54 summer camps in the USA and Canada. In Great Britain, the Open Brethren are served by the publishing firm of Pickering & Inglis of Glasgow and London which publishes a directory of assembles worldwide.

Membership: Not reported.

Educational Facilities: Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque, Iowa.
Mount Carmel Bible School, Edmonton, Alberta.
Kawartha Lakes Bible School, Peterborough, Ontario.

Periodicals: Missions, Christian Missions in many Lands, PO Box 13, Spring Lake, NJ 07762. • Uplook, P.O. Box 2041, Grand Rapids, MI 49501.

Sources:

Barker, Harold B. Why I Abandoned Exclusivism. Fort Dodge, IA: Walterick Printing Company, n.d.

Conrad, William W. Family Matters. Wheaton, IL: Interest Ministries, 1992. 138 pp.

Darms, Anton. The Abundant Gospel. New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Bible Truth Depot, 1941.

MacDonald, William. What the Bible Teaches. Oak Park, IL: Emmaus Correspondance School, 1949.

North American Missions: 1995 Resource Guide. Wheaton, IL: Interest Ministries, 1995. 144 pp.

Porter, Carol, and Mike Hamel, eds. Women's Ministry Handbook. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992. 272 pp.

Smart, John. Historical Sketch of Assembly Missions. New York: Christian Missions in Many Lands, 1966.

A Younger Brother [A. Rendle Short]. The Principles of Christians Called "Open Brethren". Glasgow, Scotland: Pickering & Inglis, 1913.

1077

Churches of God in the British Isles and Overseas (Needed Truth)

Current address not obtained for this edition.

In the 1870s questions began to arise among the Plymouth Brethren (Open Brethren) as to just how far they should go in their openness. Discussions led to several separations by groups with different solutions. One strict group formed around the periodical Needed Truth, which began in 1889. The bulk of separations of Needed Truth supporters began in 1892-1893. Early in the present century, the movement spread from England to North America, primarily to Canada. The Needed Truth groups, called Churches of God, are most properly described as open, in that they will fellowship with likeminded believers who are not members of the Churches of God, and constitute a bridge between the Open and the Exclusive Brethren groups.

The distinctive teaching of the Churches of God concerns ecclesiology. This group believes that the "church which is Christ's body" is composed totally of believers in Christ. The fellowship of the Churches of God in the British Isles and Overseas is composed of those who received the Word and who live in obedience, having been baptized by other disciples (Churches of God elders) and having been "added" by the Lord. "Addition" means that a believer is associated with the churches where the proper authority of Christ is expressed, i.e., with churches in fellowship with the Churches of God. There is a tendency toward exclusivism in that assemblies of the Churches of God feel that all brethren (ultimately, all Christians) ought to be a part of their fellowship. Members live a strict life. Television is frowned upon, though radios are tolerated. Members marry within the group. They are conscientious objectors.

The Churches of God constitute the only group of Brethren who have developed what approaches a presbyterial polity. Elders of the Churches of God have powers similar to those of presbyters in the Presbyterian Church, with the duty of leading the worship services, setting doctrinal standards, ruling on governmental matters, and teaching. Government in the Churches of God is placed in the hands of a united elderhood. Local assemblies function as the constituencies of elders who operate on both the local and regional levels. A premium is placed on consensus of the elders. The elders or overseers form a self-perpetuating body. They appoint deacons, and from the deacons, choose new elders. Regular meetings of the overseers occur.

Membership: Not reported. While the Churches of God became a substantive movement in England, there were in the 1970s only eight churches in North America, all but one in Canada. The single United States congregation was in Trinidad, Colorado. There is some question of its continued existence.

Periodicals: Needed Truth. Available from Needed Truth Publishing Office, Assembly Hall, George Lane, Hayes, Bromley, Kent, Great Britain.

Sources:

Willis, G., and B. R. Wilson. "The Churches of God: Pattern and Practice." In Patterns of Sectarianism. Edited by Bryan R. Wilson. London: Heinemann, 1967.

1078

Plymouth Brethren (Ames Brethren)

℅ Christian Literature, Inc.
Box 1052
Anoka, MN 55303-1052

History. Among the several factions which developed among the Plymouth Brethren are those designated the Ames Brethren. This grouping originated with a preacher named Ames, who worked among the Plymouth Brethren (Booth Brethren), now a constituent part of the Plymouth Brethren (Reunited Brethren). He distrusted the teachings and practice of the Plymouth Brethren (Glanton Brethren), a group with whom the Booth Brethren cooperated in England. Those supporting his opinions separated from the Booth Brethren in 1949.

Beliefs. The Brethren believe the Bible to be the Word of God. While holding to no creed, they believe that the Scriptures teach the fall of humanity and humans lost condition, the love of God in providing a savior, the perfection of Christ, atonement of Christ on the cross, the resurrection, the need of a new birth, the assurance of present salvation, and a future of heaven for the saved and eternal punishment for unbelievers. Believers' hope is not to be placed in the improvement of the world but in the coming of Christ.

Organization. Essential to Brethren belief and life is the gathering unto Christ as a divine center over against all human centers. No sectarian names are assumed. The church is guided by the Holy Spirit and has no need of an ordained priesthood or ministry. No salary is paid to preachers of the word and no collections are taken at public meetings. Meeting halls are modest in appearance.

As a corrolate to belief in the communion of the saints, the Brethren maintain the necessity of godly order, meaning that no one assembly can be owned as independent and apart from all the assemblies. They believe in holiness and truth that includes the putting away of evil doers, the refusal to hear unsound teachers and the marking and avoiding of those who cause division. Each local assembly is seen as an expression of the whole assembly of God.

Several publication centers serve the Brethren, especially Christian Literature, Inc. in Minneapolis and Moments with the Book in Bedford, Pennsylvania. Don Johnson, the printer and editor from Pennsylvania, also conducts a weekly radio show, "Moments with the Book," which has been heard over 22 stations in the United States and one in the Bahamas. Bible conferences are held annually in Iowa and Pennsylvania.

Membership: Not reported. Membership records are not kept.

Periodicals: Moments with the Bible. • Moments for Youth. Send orders for the above to Box 322, Bedford, PA 15522. • Words of Truth. • Fellowship Letters. Available from Aldridge F. Johnson, Rte. 1, Box 33, Isanti, MN 55040.

Sources:

Smith, Hamilton. Perspectives on the True Church. Minneapolis, MN: Christian Literature, n.d.

1079

Plymouth Brethren (Ex-Taylor Brethren)

Current address not obtained for this edition.

In 1960, several assemblies left the Plymouth Brethren (Raven-Taylor Brethren) because of the restrictions enunciated by the James Taylor, Jr. faction. This group is small, probably divided among itself, and is in correspondence with some similar assemblies in Britain.

Membership: Not reported.

1080

Plymouth Brethren (Raven-Taylor Brethren)

Current address not obtained for this edition.

In 1905, after the death of F. E. Raven, James Taylor, Sr., a New York businessman, assumed leadership of this group. Under Taylor's leadership the group became more and more separatist. The elder Taylor was succeeded by his son, James Taylor, Jr., who demanded a rigorous separation from the world. The Taylor Brethren prefer a secluded separatist existence. They refuse to list their centers in the telephone directories. They encourage their members to withdraw from professional associations, to resign offices in business corporations, and dispose of stock. They refuse to eat with any not in their fellowship. Taylor's critics have claimed he advocates divorce if any member of a household loses religious fervor. They have made him a public figure with their fervent denunciation of him. One British newspaper, reporting his return to the United States from England in 1969, commented, "The harsh tenets of this sect have broken up homes and led to misery and suicide. Now he has gone home, Britain's parting message is 'good riddance and don't come back."

The strength of the Taylor Brethren is in New York and California. Other congregations are located in the Northeast and Midwest, while a very few are located in the South. Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot has been their publisher in England for many years. This group is "IV" in the 1936 Religious Census list.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

F.E.R. [F.E. Raven]. Readings and Addresses in the United States. Kingston-on-Thames: Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, 1902.

Gardiner, A. J. The Recovery and Maintenance of the Truth. Kingston-on-Thames, England: Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, n.d.

——. The Substantiality of Christianity. Kingston-on-Thames, England: Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, 1954.

——. The Recovery and Maintenance of the Truth. Kingston-on-Thames, England: Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, n.d. Taylor, James. Administration in the Assembly. London: Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, 1937.

——. Christ's Personal Service for the Saints. Wellington, NZ: Whitcombe& Tombs, Printers, 1925.

Wilson, Bryan. "A Sect at Law." Encounter 60, no. 1 (January 1983): 81-87.

1081

Plymouth Brethren (Reunited Brethren)

No central headquarters. For information:
Believers Bookshelf
PO Box 261
Sunbury, PA 17801

The Plymouth Brethren (Reunited Brethren) was formed by the coming together of a number of Exclusive Plymouth Brethren groups which had divided into factions in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Their story is told in two segments, first as one of division and then one of reunion.

History. One of the earliest schisms of the Brethren centered upon the popular and zealous William Kelly (1820-1906). Kelly, an Irishman, was editor of the Bible Treasury for 50 years and also of the Collected Writings of John Nelson Darby, the prominent early leader of the Brethren. In the 1870s, however, Darby became associated with a party in the movement known as New-Lumpism. Members of this group attacked the worldliness they saw in the Brethren of their day and looked with disfavor upon the evangelism that was swelling their ranks with new converts. They yearned for a pure fellowship and advocated the high church principle, namely, that the assembly has the supreme judicial power and its decisions, which are in accord with scripture, must be accepted. Kelly and his supporters separated in 1881, the year before Darby's death. The group was limited to England and the West Indies.

Just four years after the Kelly schism, Clarence Esme Stuart and the few congregations who adhered to him were expelled from the main body of the Exclusive Brethren because of what were considered his mystical teachings on Christian position and condition. In 1885 a division that began in Montreal had the effect of separating the supporters of Frederick W. Grant, a well-known teacher and writer, from Brethren in most countries of the world.

Not many years afterward, around 1890, the majority of assemblies in continental Europe separated. They were the surviving Exclusive Brethren who did not accept either Frederick W. Grant or F. E. Raven (d. 1906), a popular Exclusive Brethren teacher of the late nineteenth century (see separate entries). Also, they sided with C. Strange and W. J. Lowe in 1909 in the Tunbridge Wells controversy (see Plymouth Brethren (Tunbridge Wells)). While strongest on the Continent, these Brethren had assemblies across America. In the 1936 Religious Census, they were called "III."

In 1928, the Grant Brethren, remnants of which are now a constituent part of the Plymouth Brethren (Open Brethren), divided into three factions as the result of a controversy that erupted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One reason for the controversy was the alleged heresy of James Boyd, a visiting British preacher who had written a tract denying that Christ had a human spirit. A second controversy developed between two people within the Philadelphia assembly, C. A. Mory and his business partner C. V. Grant. The partner was accused of deceit, fraud, and misuse of funds. The assembly's refusal to excommunicate the partner or to brand Boyd's teachings as heresy led to schism. Adding fuel to the fire of controversy was the contemporaneous movement of some Grant Brethren toward the Open Brethren.

One small group of assemblies (labeled "VII" by the Religious Census) withdrew fellowship from Boyd and any who did not agree with their strong stand. One leader of this faction was R. J. Little, editor of Holding Fast and Holding Faith, though he later joined the Open Brethren and the faculty at Moody Bible Institute.

A larger group of assemblies was led by A. E. Booth, who accepted Boyd's retraction of his "heretical" position but rejected the Grant Brethren in the move toward the Open Brethren position. He led the formation of the Erie Bible Truth Depot, in Erie, Pennsylvania. In 1932, he began Things Old and New. (The Booth Brethren were numbered "VIII" in the Religious Census.)

The mergers of the separated Brethren occurred in 1926, 1940, 1953, and 1974. The first, in 1926, resulted in the union of the Kelly and Continental Brethren. This action was effective in England, the West Indies, Europe, Egypt, and North America. Then in 1940, the Kelly-Continental Brethren and the British section of the Tunbridge Wells Brethren reunited. However, the American section of the Tunbridge Wells group remains separate to this day and has undergone several internal divisions in the course of the years.

In 1953, the Kelly-Continental Brethren united with the Stuart Brethren and also took in the Mory faction of the former Grant Brethren. This reunion affected assemblies around the world. Finally, in 1974, the previously reunited Brethren merged with the Glanton Brethren (a splinter from the Plymouth Brethren (Raven-Taylor Brethren)) and the Booth Brethren which had previously become associated with the Glanton Brethren.

During the past few years, fresh division has broken out among theses assemblies and brethren throughout the world have been affected. Some North American assemblies have left the fellow-ship, choosing rather to take a path of greater independence.

Beliefs. The reunion changed little doctrinally with the various segments of the Brethren who reunited, as few of the earlier schisms had a strong doctrinal element, and those few doctrinal questions previously at issue had become academic. The reunited assemblies now seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit of God and to function as assemblies gathered in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ on the ground of the One Body of Christ in contrast to acting as independent assemblies. They acknowledge Christ as their only head and the Holy Spirit as the only administrator of the church, and accept the Bible as God's inspired, infallible word and their family and all-sufficient guide book for doctrine and practice.

Organization. The assemblies are organized congregationally and tied together by their mutual like-mindedness and cooperative activities in which they participate. Missionaries are supported in Africa, the Middle East and surrounding lands, South America, the Caribbean Islands, India, Beamsville, Ontario, Canada and the Philippines. Believers Bookshelf of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, is the major publisher for the Reunited Brethren in the United States; there are numerous others in other countries. Literature ministry is the major outreach in the Reunited Brethren.

Membership: In 2002, there were 75 congregations in the United States and 27 in Canada. Worldwide membership was unknown, but there are an estimated 1,500 congregations altogether.

Periodicals: Missionary Bulletin.

Sources:

Campbell, R. K. The Christian Home. Sudbury, PA: Believers Bookshelf, 1982.

——. The Church of the Living God. Sudbury, PA: Believers Bookshelf, n.d.

——. Reunited Brethren: A Brief Historical Account Including a Brief Statement of Some Vital Principles of Faith. Danville, IL: Grace & Truth,1990.

Kelly, William. Lectures on the Church of God. Oak Park. IL: Bible Truth Publishers, n.d.

1082

Plymouth Brethren (Tunbridge Wells Brethren)

No central headquarters. For Information:
℅ Bible Truth Publishers
59 Industrial Rd.
PO Box 649
Addison, IL 60101

The Plymouth Brethren (Tunbridge Wells Brethren) designates a group of the Plymouth Brethren which dates from 1909 when there was an act of discipline in the assembly in Tunbridge Wells, London, England, involving Mr. C. Strange. After moving to that city and establishing a business there, his conduct and participation in meetings, both at home and elsewhere, ultimately resulted in his being excluded. W. J. Lowe, a prominent brother in London, took the lead in rejecting the action of the Tunbridge Wells assembly and in forming a group, later identified by his name as the Lowe Brethren, which included those sympathetic to Strange. Ironically, Strange was a member of that group for only a brief period. However, Lowe found support among the Continental Brethren who also aligned themselves against the action at Tunbridge Wells.

In 1940, the Tunbridge Wells Brethren were invited to forget the past differences and amalgamate with others who had already been participating in a reunion process. The sponsoring group included the now-merged former (William) Kelly, Lowe, Continental, Stuart, and Glanton Brethren as well as some of the Grant Brethren. Most of the Tunbridge Wells Brethren in England accepted the invitation and now are a constituent part of the Plymouth Brethren (Reunited Brethren). In North America, however, the brethren felt that no true reunion could be accomplished without a consensus judgment on the root cause of the 1909 and earlier divisions. They have remained separate.

The Tunbridge Wells Brethren are a worldwide fellowship with assemblies in North, Central, and South America, as well as Australia, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Bible Truth Publishers in Addison, Illinois, is an independent operation, but owned and managed by members of the groups and publish materials especially for it. It issues three periodicals, and a number of books, pamphlets and tracts, including reprints of a number of the nineteenth-century brethren and the Collected Writings of John Nelson Darby. There is a similar operation known as Bibles and Publications in Montreal, Quebec. A number of smaller publishers issue tracts, not only in English, but in a variety of foreign languages.

Membership: Membership figures are unavailable. In 1997, there were over 180 assemblies.

Periodicals: Echoes of Grace. • Messages of God's Love.

Sources:

Hayhoe, H. E. Present Truth for Christians. St. Louis, MO: Bible Truth Publishers, 1950.

Price, G. H. S. Church History. Addison, IL: Bible Truth Publishers, 1982.

Stanley, Charles. The Church of God. Oak Park, IL: Bible Truth Publishers, n.d.

Wilson, Paul. A Defense of Dispensationalism. Oak Park, IL: Bible Truth Publishers, n.d.

Wolston, W. T. The Church, What Is It? Oak Park, IL: Bible Truth Publishers, 1971.

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Plymouth Brethren

PLYMOUTH BRETHREN

Also called the Christian Brethren. In 1827 groups of Christians in England and Ireland began to meet apart from the established churches to study the Bible, pray, and hold weekly communion services. John darby (180082), a former Church of Ireland clergyman, led the movement for many years. Members of these fellowships eventually were identified as Darbyites or Plymouth Brethren. The latter name came from the largest and most influential of these groups at Plymouth, England, but has no official acceptance. Beginning in 1838, Darby spent seven years in Switzerland; when he returned to England and encountered opposition to his leadership, he started a rival body of Plymouth Brethren.

Most Plymouth Brethren congregations meet for worship in "remembrance meetings," in private homes or rented halls, and include only 35 or 40 people. The Plymouth Brethren oppose seminary training, clerical titles, and ordination of ministers. Although they are devoted students of the Bible, they do not favor higher education. The various groupings of Plymouth Brethren have no national or international coordinating agencies. Local churches follow a congregational form of government. There are no official spokesmen or periodicals. The Brethren follow a fundamentalist theology based on the literal and verbal interpretation of the Bible. Their position is Calvinist, but they reject all creeds and confessions. The congregations hold a weekly communion service. In their preaching the Brethren emphasize the imminent Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see parousia).

Bibliography: f. s. mead, s. s. hill and c. d. atwood, eds., Handbook of Denominations in the United States, 11th ed (Nashville 2001)

[w. j. whalen/eds.]

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