Brethren and Mennonites

The following information is taken from a book titled, Anabaptist World, USA.

“Unlike Mennonites who descend directly from the 16th century Anabaptists, the Brethren claim a mixed parentage of German Pietism and Anabaptism.  Founded in the German village of Schwarzenau, the Brethren began in 1708, about 15 years after the Amish had formed.  Influenced by Mennonites whom they admired but considered spiritually lukewarm, they rebaptized each other in the Eder River.  They grafted Anabaptist understanding of the church onto Pietist roots of spirituality, hoping to recreate the primitive faith of the early church.”

Several key Brethren values: a Christocentric emphasis on discipleship, simplicity of life, peacemaking, and the church as community.  The Brethren emphasize the fact that they are a noncreedal church.  They also stress the importance of individual conscience on matters of personal and social morality.  The ethos of the denomination accents integrity of relationships above proclamations of truth, process more than specific guidelines, praxis rather than doctrine and seeking the mind of Christ rather than setting exact expectations.

They baptize by trine (3 times) immersion and emphasize the importance of the Love Feast (similar to communion.) There are many Brethren groups–just like the many Mennonite groups, so it is difficult to say what they all believe.  The Church of the Brethren is the largest of the groups; others include The Brethren Church and the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.  The range is similar to the Mennonites–some more conservative, some more liberal.