What is the Church of the Brethren?

Continuing the work of Jesus.
Peacefully. Simply. Together.

This “tagline” – Continuing the work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together. – is what we use to describe ourselves.

Continuing the work of Jesus
In the New Testament, the word “brethren” describes a community of people (of all genders) who chose another way of living: the way of Jesus. The Church of the Brethren, begun three centuries ago in Germany, still draws people who want to continue Jesus’ work of faithfulness and loving service.

Though the Brethren as a group have existed for 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.  We looked a bit like the Amish in plain dress. 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.

We live out our faith in community. That community begins in the congregation, but extends also to the district, and to the church as a whole. In other words, the life and work of the Church of the Brethren begins within hundreds of congregations but reaches around the world.

Find out more

For additional information, see our denomination’s home page: www.brethren.org

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Mindi Lea Fires says:

    I was wondering what is the first & oldest brethren church in Washington DC. And is this church connected to Moravians?

    1. Hello Mindi! Sorry for the delay. We are the only Church of the Brethren congregation in Washington, DC (in the District of Columbia). There are other denominations in the US that use Brethren in their names. We are cousins, in a way, to the Moravians, since they are also in the Pietist Tradition. We have shared influences with Moravians and Mennonites (we’re Radical Pietist and Anabaptist).

  2. Judith Faidley Pysher says:

    I attended your church with my family from the time I was very little until my mid teens when we moved to Maryland. My father and I were baptized together. We sang in the choir and my mother taught Sunday School.What a joy to know you are still there and serving!

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