From Academic Kids

The Brethren are any of several Christian denominations, most of which are Anabaptist-Pietist .



The Anabaptist-Pietist Brethren, and even other Brethren bodies, share in common many beliefs. Individual articles contain more specific information of the doctrines of various bodies.

Schwarzenau Brethren groups

The Schwarzenau Brethren groups originated in 1708 in Schwarzenau, Germany, in the Palatinate. Early leaders included Alexander Mack, Peter Becker, and John Nass. The Brethren were at one time called Dunkers or German Baptist Brethren.

After enduring persecution for a time (see Anabaptist), the Brethren migrated to North America in three separate groups from 1719 to 1733. There they established themselves at Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and from there moved south and west along with other pioneers.

The Brethren Church shares its early heritage with the Church of the Brethren but was separated in 1881, being the most progressive of the three groups resulting from this split at the time of H. R. Holsinger. The most conservative of the groups (the Old Order, centered in Dayton, OH) is now known as the German Baptist church. The current Church of the Brethren was the middle (or conservative) group. This split was not really about doctrine (at the time, though the groups have drifted apart since) but over such things as the starting of Sunday Schools, the holding of revival meetings, and the use of an indoor baptistry rather than a river. The progressive group (Brethren Church) includes a denomination with headquarters in Ashland, Ohio. In 1939 the Progressives split into two denominations, with those seeking a liberal arts educational basis and an open position to the issue of eternal security maintaining the name Brethren Church, and those seeking a liberal arts educational base that applied Biblical values to Character, Competence and Service and a firm affirmation of eternal security becoming the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, commonly called the Grace Brethren Church, headquartered in Winona Lake, Indiana. The Grace Brethren experienced a split in the 1990's, with a small number of conservative churches forming the Conservative Grace Brethren Church.

Other Brethren groups

The following Brethren bodies are not related historically to the Schwarzenau groups descended from Alexander Mack.

External links

Denominations and Fellowships




  • Brethren Encyclopedia, Carl Bowman, Donald F. Durnbaugh and Dale V. Ulrich, editors
  • Gathering Unto His Name, by Norman Crawford (on Plymouth Brethren)
  • Encyclopedia of American Religions, J. Gordon Melton, editor
  • Handbook of Denominations in the United States, by Frank S. Mead, Samuel S. Hill, and Craig D. Atwood
  • Mennonite Encyclopedia, Cornelius J. Dyck, Dennis D. Martin, et al., editors
  • Profiles in Belief: the Religious Bodies in the United States and Canada, by Arthur Carl Piepkorn
  • Religious Congregations & Membership in the United States (2000), Glenmary Research Center

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