Church of the Brethren

Overview of the Church of the Brethren

Church of the Brethren Logo
Logo: the Church of the Brethren

For members of the Church of the Brethren, walking the talk is very important. This Christian denomination places great emphasis on serving others, living a simple life, and following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

Number of Worldwide Members:

The Church of the Brethren has about 125,000 members in over 1,000 churches in the United States and Puerto Rico. Another 150,000 members belong to the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.

Founding of the Church of the Brethren:

Brethren roots go back to Schwarzenau, Germany in the early 1700s. Founder Alexander Mack was influenced by Pietists and Anabaptists. To avoid persecution in Europe, the Schwarzenau Brethren Church moved to colonial America by the mid-1700s and settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania. That colony was well-known for its religious tolerance. Over the next 200 years, the Church of the Brethren spread across the entire North American continent.

Prominent Church of the Brethren Founders:

Alexander Mack, Peter Becker.


Brethren churches cover the United States, Puerto Rico, and Nigeria. More can be found in India, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Mission partnerships include the countries of China, Ecuador, Sudan, and South Korea.

Church of the Brethren Governing Body:

Brethren have three levels of government: the local congregation, the district, and the annual conference. Each congregation selects its own pastor, moderator, board, ministry groups, and commissions. They also elect delegates to the district conference and annual conference. The district conference is held yearly; delegates from the 23 districts elect a moderator to conduct business. At the annual conference, delegates make up the Standing Committee, but any person, whether a delegate or not, is free to speak and offer motions. The Mission and Ministry Board, elected at that conference, carries out administrative and missionary business.

Sacred or Distinguishing Text:

Brethren rely on the New Testament of the Bible as their guidebook for living, although they consider the Old Testament God's plan for the "human family and the universe."

Notable Church of the Brethren Ministers and Members:

Stan Noffsinger, Robert Alley, Tim Harvey, Alexander Mack, Peter Becker.

Church of the Brethren Beliefs and Practices:

The Church of the Brethren does not follow a Christian creed. Instead, it teaches its members to do what Jesus did, helping people in their physical and spiritual needs. Consequently, Brethren are deeply involved in social justice, missionary work, disaster relief, food relief, education, and medical care. Brethren live a simple lifestyle, reflecting humility and service to others.

Brethren practice these ordinances: adult baptism by immersion, a love feast and communion, foot-washing, and anointing.

To learn more about Church of the Brethren Beliefs, visit The Brethren Beliefs and Practices.

(Information in this article is compiled and summarized from