We seek to be God's people together--caring for one another as a family of God, helping each other to serve the Lord, continuing the work of Jesus...
Peacefully, Simply, Together.
- We believe that Jesus Christ is "God with us" and that his life exemplifies the way to new life, makes possible renewed fellowship with God, and prepares the way for eternal life.
- We believe God's love and will are continually being revealed to the world through the activity of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer and within the community of faith.
- We affirm the inspiration of the Bible and hold the New Testament to be our final authority for faith and practice.
- We seek to shape a life of love, peace, and simplicity together as a faith community based on the belief that Christ is known in the body of believers that gathers to serve and remember him.
- We practice the ordinances of baptism, love feast, anointing, and laying on of hands.
- We believe everyone belongs to God and the congregation that gives them nurture. You will be welcomed into membership in our congregation whenever you are ready to make a covenant with God and accept the responsibilities of faithful church membership.
Trine Baptism by Immersion
We have long been known as the Dunkards because we fully immerse or dunk when we baptize. It comes from the German word tunken. Although modern Germans principally use the transitive verb tauchen(plunge, immerse) or eintauchen(dive into), the obsolete tunkenwas the moniker applied to the early Brethren. Our first label was the Schwarzenau Täufer (Baptists) or Neue Täufer (New Baptists) because we wanted to distinguish ourselves from older Anabaptists bodies. While migrating through colonial America, we used the label German Baptist and then appended Brethren about 1836 and officially adopted German Baptist Brethren in 1871.
The Church of the Brethren practices trine immersion (Latin: trinus, of three) for believers baptism, one plunge for each member of the Trinity. We may never know the exact method used by Christ and his disciples, but three immersions most probably stems from the Great Commission given by Jesus to his disciples:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ...” (Matthew 28:19)
Trine immersion was practiced from the earliest centuries. Augustine, the 4th Century Bishop, stated in a :
“Rightly were you dipped three times, since you were baptized in the name of the Trinity. Rightly were you dipped three times, because you were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, who on the third day rose again from the dead. For that thrice repeated immersion reproduces the burial of the Lord by which you were buried with Christ in baptism.”
Thus, he infers that three plunges may also signify the three days of Christ's burial. The Catholic Church practiced trine immersion until about the twelfth century, when it gradually succumbed to aspersion or sprinkling. Tampering with this trine immersion method of baptism would be regarded by many as severely redefining what it means to be Brethren.
Footwashing & Love Feast
Our communion service closely follows the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples. We have a meal, the feet washing service, and the breaking of bread and drinking of the cup of blessing, interspersed with the singing of hymns. Practices and emphasis may vary slightly from one congregation to another, but observance of each segment is generally consistent. A few kindred denominations also have feet washing but not the meal. Brethren are unique in that our observance of communion is very complete, and usually a full evening service. Alexander Mack, our first minister, said:
"We indeed have neither a new church or any new laws. We only want to remain in simplicity and true faith in the original church which Jesus founded through his blood. We wish to obey the commandment which was in the beginning.”
Inscriptions and paintings on ancient walls called it the agape meal or love meal, a feast of love, or simply, a Love Feast (Greek: agape, cherishing love). Attending the Love Feast in past generations was closely, if not strictly, monitored. In many Brethren congregations it was expected that elders or deacons would “examine” members prior to the service in order to determine their scriptural appropriateness for participation, in accordance with New Testament teachings:
“Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Corinthians 11:27) "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons" (1 Corinthians 10:21
The possibility of being barred from Love Feast was not something regarded lightly. Communing, as it was often called, was popular and Brethren frequently traveled to other congregations in order to enjoy the spiritual benefits of this great service.
In former years, several congregations held the Love Feast in barns because their church buildings tended to be small and members from other congregations attending would be anticipated. Non-members, children, and the curious often watched from the hay loft. Some church buildings were large enough to accommodate these crowds and had constructed pews that quickly converted the backrest into a table. Meal preparation for Love Feast was extensive. Brethren churches were among the first to have kitchens. For that reason, some congregations have great difficulty in accepting the more simple “bread and cup” communion that is more distinctive of high liturgical denominations. Tampering with this service is already regarded by many as severely redefining what it means to be Brethren.
Biblical references to anointing cover a wide range of purposes, including physical anointing for healing (John 9:6), the consecration of priests (Exodus 29:7), the commissioning of kings (1 Samuel 16), funeral rites (Matthew 26:12), and the cleansing of lepers (Leviticus 14). There are also many references to spiritual anointing by the Holy Spirit, such as Isaiah 45:1, 61:1 and 2 Corinthians 1:21. Since the Brethren place a special emphasis on the teachings of the New Testament and the restoring work of Jesus, we especially recognize the ordinance of anointing the sick with oil in the name of the Lord, as instructed in James 5:14-15, “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.” Usually this service is administered in private by the pastor, assisted by one or more deacons and occasionally a lay person. The person to be anointed is traditionally given opportunity for confession of sins as admonished by the Apostle James. Brethren interpret this act as restoration of wholeness, not as other denominations have administered it in the form of extreme unction or last rites. In recent years, anointing has become more public and frequently administered by one's peers, such as at National Youth Conference where youth come forward to be anointed by other youth. Anointing may also be granted for commissioning of leadership and spiritual renewal.
“Brethren believe that God intends people to be whole in body, mind, and spirit. The anointing service recognizes that wholeness is experienced only as a person's relationship to God and others is open and honest. One becomes whole as his or her relationship with God and the faith community is renewed” (For All Who Minister: Church of the Brethren Pastor's Manual)
Tampering or devaluing the anointing service and its emphasis on wholeness would be regarded by many as severely redefining what it means to be Brethren.