Church of the Brethren General Offices The story of the Brethren began in Schwarzenau, Germany in 1708. Alexander Mack was the first minister. A small group of men and women met for Bible study and prayer in homes, seeking alternatives to the shallow Christianity they observed about them. They were part of a larger movement that sought to reform the existing Protestant churches.
Their study led them to be baptized by immersion in a river near their homes. In this act they looked to the previous example of 16th century reformers. The new-found faith of the Brethren created a stir among religious and civic leaders because at that time adult baptism was illegal. But their zeal and warm fellowship attracted many who were searching for a deeper, more meaningful faith.
On December 25, 1723 six persons were baptized in the Wissahicken Creek in PA. And from there, they processed to Germantown for the first love feast in America. After coming to America in the early part of the 18th century, they spread out across the nation, particularly in rich agricultural regions. Later, mission work even spawned continuing congregations in India, Nigeria, and Ecuador. Brethren also became active in publishing and educational activities.
Church of the Brethren people believe in a loving, faithful God. Brethren believe that Jesus died and was raised so that we can know salvation and life, that the Holy Spirit guides and gives power, that the Bible is trustworthy, and that the church helps us live as Christ desires until his return.
Brethren also emphasize the voluntary nature of following Christ and reserve baptism for those old enough to choose. Brethren perform anointing for healing, a service of confession and prayer following James 5:14. And Brethren relive Jesus' last supper with his disciples as described in John 13 in a special way.