First Church of the Brethren

Church of The Brethren

Beliefs

WHAT THE BRETHREN BELIEVE

  • We are an historic peace church.
  • Jesus as Christ, the son of God.
  • Faithfulness to Jesus and His teachings according to the New Testament.
  • Simplicity, peace, justice and reconciliation.
  • Caring for each other with compassion for all of God’s people and respect for all God’s creation
  • Service to those in need, not only in our community, but throughout the world.
  • The necessity to be an active member of God’s community, sharing our time, talents and possessions.
  • Active worship of God through church services, group activities, and by our thoughts, words and actions in living each day.
  • Sharing the word and spirit of God through the spoken word and by example through our actions.
  • Praying, individually and together, for support and guidance.
  • Studying the scriptures, individually and together, for spiritual growth.
  • Baptism of believers, dedication of children.
  • Observance of the last supper, communion, feet washing and anointing.
  • Expectation of joy, peace and new life through these commitments.

Note: This history content is complete and unabridged from the Brethren site: http://www.brethren.org/anotherway/history/

Though the Brethren as a group have existed for nearly three hundred years, we subscribe to no formal "creed" or set of rules. We simply try to do what Jesus did.

Jesus brought a message of life, love, and hope. But he offered much more than inspiring words: He understood that people's spiritual needs also include day-to-day human ones- food, health, rest, comfort, friendship, and unconditional acceptance. "I am the way," he told his followers. He showed them how to trust, how to care, and how to help.

Steadily, lovingly, even radically, Jesus went about saving the world- by serving its people. Because we believe his  message, we seek to do the same.

Whether the conflict involves warring nations, racial discord, theological disputes, personal disagreement, or mere misunderstanding, Brethren listen conscientiously, seek guidance in the scriptures, and work toward reconciliation. We practice peaceful living.

Our longstanding commitment to peace and justice includes a deep regard for human life and dignity. Brethren reach worldwide to help repair the ravages of poverty, ignorance, exploitation, and catastrophic events. Along with our faith, we bring food, books, classes, tools, and medicine.

Living peacefully, to the Brethren, means treating each person with the attentive, compassionate respect that all human beings deserve.

Years ago, all Brethren were immediately recognizable because of their plain dress and reserved ways. Today's Brethren live very much in the world, work in a broad range of occupations, and make use of the latest technology.

Continually, though, we try to simplify our lives. Practicing a modest nonconformity, we think carefully about our daily choices. The ideal of simplicity guides our decisions: How will we conduct our business, raise our children, spend our leisure time, tend our natural resources? How will we use our money, and why? How can we live comfortably, but without excess or ostentation?

For the Brethren, such considerations are not a requirement, but a privilege. As we seek to live intentionally, responsibly, and simply, we find a deep sense of purpose. And we find joy.

Whether worshiping, serving, learning, or celebrating, Brethren act in community. Together, we study the Bible to discern God's will; we make decisions as a group, and each person's voice matters.

During our traditional love feast, we gather at the table of the Lord, and each summer at Annual Conference we convene as a denominational family. Because Jesus urged unity, Brethren work alongside other denominations, at home and abroad, in worldwide mission and outreach.

Our congregations welcome all who wish to share with us in another way of living: the way of Christian discipleship, life in community, fulfillment in service.

History

BRETHREN HISTORY

Note: This history content is complete and unabridged from the Brethren site: http://www.brethren.org/anotherway/history/

Eighteenth century Europe was a time of strong governmental control of the church and low tolerance for religious diversity. Nevertheless, there were religious dissenters who lived their faith in spite of the threat of persecution. Some of these dissenters found refuge in the town of Schwarzenau, Germany. Among them was Alexander Mack, a miller who had been influenced by both Pietism and Anabaptism.

In August 1708 five men and three women gathered at the Eder River in Schwarzenau for baptism, an illegal act since all had been baptized as infants. They understood this baptism as an outward symbol of their new faith and as a commitment to living that faith in community. An anonymous member of the group first baptized Mack. He, in turn, baptized the other seven. This new group simply called themselves "brethren".

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

Due to growing persecution and economic hardship, Brethren began emigrating to North America in 1719 under the leadership of Peter Becker. Most Brethren left Europe by 1740, including Mack, who brought a group over in 1729. The first congregation in the New World was organized at Germantown, Pa., in 1723. Soon after its formation, the Germantown congregation sent missionaries to rural areas around Philadelphia. These missionaries preached, baptized, and started new congregations.

Their zeal, honesty, and hard work drew many new members into the Brethren faith community through the 1700s. New congregations were formed in New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. With the promise of inexpensive land, they moved into Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri after the Revolutionary War. By the mid-1800s Brethren had settled in Kansas and Iowa and eventually the West Coast.

Expansion across the continent and changes due to the Industrial Revolution caused strain and conflict among the Brethren. In the early 1880s a major schism took place resulting in a three-way split. The largest branch after the schism was the German Baptist Brethren, who changed their name to the Church of the Brethren in 1908.

During the 20th century, focus areas of Church of the Brethren included educating its young people by developing Sunday schools, camping, and youth programs; strengthening its emphasis on service, missions, and peacemaking; increasing its ecumenical involvement; and developing a new denominational structure.

The Brethren began mission partnerships in India, China, Nigeria, Ecuador, Sudan, South Korea, and -- more recently -- in Brazil and the Dominican Republic. Mission staff and Brethren Volunteer Service workers are assigned throughout the US and more than a dozen countries around the world.

At the dawn of the 21st century, the Church of the Brethren had about 135,000 members in more than 1,000 congregations in the United States and Puerto Rico; about 150,000 in the fast-growing Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria); and hundreds more in the Dominican Republic and Brazil.

While times have changed, the Church of the Brethren today maintains the basic beliefs of the first Brethren and seeks to find new ways to continue the work of Jesus in the world.

Outreach

BRETHREN OUTREACH

Noted for its stance on peace and its ministries of compassion, the Church of the Brethren has pioneered national and worldwide programs of Brethren Volunteer Service, Brethren Disaster Response, agricultural exchanges, and refugee assistance.

During the last 100 years, the Church of the Brethren has begun mission partnerships in India, China, Nigeria, Ecuador, Sudan, and, more recently, Brazil, Dominican Republic, and Haiti. Mission and Brethren Volunteer Service workers are assigned throughout the U.S and in a dozen countries abroad.

Connect With Us

FCOB on Social Media

Subscribe To Our Newsletter