Hutterian Brethren

Hutterian Brethren

Hutterian Brethren, a body of Christians practicing strict communism based on religious principles. The Brethren are descendants of those Moravian Anabaptists who were followers of Jacob Hutter, a minister from the Tyrol who was burned at the stake in 1536. In the 17th cent. there were a number of Hutterian brotherhoods in Moravia. Persecution drove them eastward to eventual settlement in Russia. In 1874, in company with Russian Mennonites, a group emigrated to the United States, settling near Tabor, S.Dak. Other groups followed. Their doctrines and principles, aside from their practice of common ownership, are in accord with those of Mennonites in general. There are around 460 Hutterite colonies in the United States and Canada today, mainly on the W North American prairie. They are also known as Hutterische Brethren or Hutterites.

See studies by V. Peters (1965), J. W. Bennett (1967), and J. A. Hostelter (1975).

The Brethren are a number of Protestant Christian religious bodies using the word "brethren" in their names. In some cases these similarities of name reflect roots in the same early Brethren groups, and in others the adoption of "Brethren" as part of the name reflects an independent choice to evoke the concept of religious brotherhood (especially fraternal religious or military orders). The church has 40,000-44,000 members.

Schwarzenau Brethren groups

The Schwarzenau Brethren groups originated in 1708 in Schwarzenau, Germany, in the Palatinate. Early leaders included Alexander Mack, Peter Becker, and John Nass. The Brethren were at one time called Dunkers or German Baptist Brethren.

After enduring persecution for a time (see Anabaptist), the Brethren migrated to North America in three separate groups from 1719 to 1733. There they established themselves at Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and from there moved south and west along with other pioneers.

The Brethren Church shares its early unstable heritage with the Church of the Brethren but was separated in 1883, being the most progressive of the three groups resulting from this split at the time of H. R. Holsinger. The most conservative of the groups (the Old Order, centered in Dayton, OH) is now known as the German Baptist church. The current Church of the Brethren was the middle (or conservative) group. This split was not really about doctrine (at the time, though the groups have drifted apart since) but over such things as the starting of Sunday Schools, the holding of revival meetings, and the use of an indoor baptistry rather than running water in a creek or river. The progressive group (Brethren Church) includes a denomination with headquarters in Ashland, Ohio. In 1939 the Progressives split into two denominations, with those seeking an open position to the issue of eternal security maintaining the name Brethren Church, and those seeking a firm affirmation of eternal security becoming the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC), commonly called the Grace Brethren Church, headquartered in Winona Lake, Indiana. The Grace Brethren experienced a split in the 1990s (primarily related to the connection between water baptism and church membership), with a minority of churches forming the Conservative Grace Brethren Churches, International (CGBCI). In 2007, families from both the FGBC and CGBCI formed a new fellowship calling themselves the Brethren Reformed Church.

Other Brethren groups

The following Brethren bodies are not related historically to the Schwarzenau groups descended from Alexander Mack.

See also

External links


  • Brethren Encyclopedia, Vol. I-III, Donald F. Durnbaugh, editor
  • Brethren Encyclopedia, Vol. IV, Donald F. Durnbaugh and Dale V. Ulrich, editors, Carl Bowman, contributing editor
  • Gathering Unto His Name, by Norman Crawford (on Plymouth Brethren)
  • Encyclopedia of American Religions, J. Gordon Melton, editor
  • Handbook of Denominations in the United States, by Frank S. Mead, Samuel S. Hill, and Craig D. Atwood
  • Mennonite Encyclopedia, Cornelius J. Dyck, Dennis D. Martin, et al., editors
  • Profiles in Belief: the Religious Bodies in the United States and Canada, by Arthur Carl Piepkorn
  • Religious Congregations & Membership in the United States (2000), Glenmary Research Center

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