Another way of living
In the New Testament, the word “brethren” describes a community of men and women 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.
Continuing the work of Jesus
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. Living peacefully, to the Brethren, means treating each person with the attentive, compassionate respect that all human beings deserve.
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.
Years ago, all Brethren were immediately recognizable because of their plain dress and reserved ways. 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.
(From the Church of the Brethren website)
What we Believe
The central emphasis of the Church of the Brethren is not a creed, but a commitment to follow Christ in simple obedience, to be faithful disciples in the modern world. As do most other Christians, the Brethren believe in God as Creator and loving Sustainer. We confess the Lordship of Christ, and we seek to be guided by the Holy Spirit in every aspect of life, thought, and mission.
We hold the New Testament as our guidebook for living, affirming with it the need for lifelong and faithful study of the Scriptures. Brethren believe that God has revealed an unfolding purpose for the human family and the universe through the Hebrew Scriptures (or Old Testament), and fully in the New Testament. We hold the New Testament as the record of the life, ministry, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of the beginnings of the life and thought of the Christian church.
Faithful following of Jesus Christ and obedience to the will of God as revealed in the Scriptures have led us to emphasize principles that we believe are central in true discipleship. Among these are peace and reconciliation, simple living, integrity of speech, family values, and service to neighbors near and far.
(Drawn from “The Brethren Heritage,” Elizabethtown College)