Aviva Directory » Faith & Spirituality » World Religions » Abrahamic Religions » Christianity » Church Divisions » Anabaptist » Brethren

There are groups named Brethren that are not related to the Anabaptist movement at all; and others that developed independently, but most of the Brethren churches that have a relationship to Anabaptism originated from the Schwarzenau Brethren, which was organized in 1708 under the leadership of Alexander Mack. These churches are not strictly Anabaptist, and some identify as Protestant; although, for the purposes of categorization, we will list them here. Like the Anabaptists, the Schwarzenau Baptist practiced nonresistance, and rejected infant baptism and Catholic Eucharistic practices, and were broadly influenced by Radical Pietist understandings of an invisible church awaiting Christ's return. They baptized by immersion, and practiced triune baptism, in the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and included a love feast and the washing of feet in communion services. The Schwarzenau Brethren still exist, but are known as the German Baptist Brethren in America. Over the years, there have been several divisions within the Brethren Churches. The four largest are the Church of the Brethren, the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, the Brethren in Christ, and the Brethren Church, but there are more than a dozen smaller denominations. Other Brethren denominations related to Anabaptism developed separately from the Schwarzenau; these include the United Brethren, River Brethren, Swiss Brethren and the Hutterian Brethren. Brethren churches tend to blend the legacies of Anabaptism and Pietism, and more recent church divisions have been over concerns with liberalism, gay marriage, and the dissolution of practices that set them apart from mainstream Protestant churches, such as foot washing and the Holy Kiss. Most Brethren groups typically baptize by immersion and celebrate a Love Feast. A few Brethren groups wear plain dress, such as the Old German Baptist Brethren and the Dunkard Brethren, but they do not hold to restrictions on technology.


Brethren in Christ

Church of the Brethren

Dunkard Brethren Church

Grace Brethren Church

Mennonite Brethren Church

United Brethren in Christ



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