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Old German Baptist Brethren

posted Apr 23, 2010, 5:24 PM by James Wise   [ updated Aug 29, 2010, 11:59 PM by Travis Wise ]

Old German Baptist Brethren (OGBB) descend from a pietist movement in Schwarzenau, Germany, in 1708, when Alexander Mack founded a fellowship with 8 believers. They are one of seven Brethren groups that trace themselves to that original founding body. These emerged from the German Reformed and Lutheran Churches, and are historically known as German Baptists rather than English Baptists. Other names by which they are sometimes identified are Dunkers, Dunkards, Tunkers, and Täufer, all relating to their practice of baptism by immersion. They are part of the post-reformation Anabaptists (which include, among others, the Amish and Mennonites), who rejected baptism of infants as a biblically valid form of baptism. Because of persecution, many German Baptists emigrated to America with the greatest influx being in the late 1720s and early 1730s. Contents [hide] * 1 History * 2 Theology and Worship * 3 References * 4 External links [edit] History The first American congregation was founded near Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1719. Originally known as Neue Täufer (new Baptists), in America they used the name "German Baptist" and officially adopted the title German Baptist Brethren at their Annual Meeting in 1871. The Old German Baptist Brethren represent a conservative faction that would not tolerate certain modern innovations of the 19th century. In 1881, they broke away from the main body in order to maintain older customs, dress, and forms of worship. OGBB are noted for several ordinances like believer's baptism by trine immersion, feet washing, the love feast, communion of the bread and cup, the holy kiss, and anointing of the sick with oil. Baptism is by trine forward-immersion in running water. They hold an Annual Meeting associated with Pentecost, and cooperate in publishing the monthly periodical, The Vindicator. According to Anabaptist World USA (2001), the Old German Baptist Brethren had 5,965 members in 54 churches at the end of 2000. The largest concentration of congregations is in Ohio (16), followed by Indiana (9), Kansas (5), California (4), Pennsylvania (4), Virginia (4), Florida (2), Washington (3 ), Georgia (1), Maryland (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), Mississippi (1), Oregon (1), Wisconsin (1) and West Virginia (1). In September, 2006, a new congregation was organized in Ronan, Montana. From 1881 to 1883, a large division occurred over several matters including Sunday Schools, higher education, plain dress, revivalism, and church discipline. The split resulted in three denominational organizations: the Old German Baptist Brethren, The Brethren Church and the Church of the Brethren. The advance of modernity is connected to two early 20th century divisions among the Old German Baptists. In 1913 a group broke away and formed the Old Brethren. They were more favorable to the use of automobiles and other innovations. They also believed the Annual Meeting should be chiefly spiritual in nature, and placed less stress on its authority than did the parent body. Their membership, among 5 congregations, in 2000 was 250. As the original Old German Baptist Brethren body became more accepting of automobiles, another group withdrew in 1921 to become the Old Order German Baptist Brethren. They do not use automobiles, electric power or telephones. In 2000, the Old Orders numbered 125 from one congregation in Ohio. Two other minor divisions occurred in the 1990s resulting in 3 congregations of 185 total members. Currently, they do not support use of the internet. There are several different Brethren groups that are not related to the Schwarzenau movement, such as the Plymouth Brethren that arose in England and Ireland early in the 19th century through the labors of Edward Cronin and John Nelson Darby. However, the teachings of Darby, called Dispensationalism, have been influential among many in the OGBB. The OGBB are the root of several other Brethren denominations, including the Old Order German Baptist Brethren (Petitioners), Church of the Brethren, Dunkard Brethren, The Brethren Church, The Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches and the Conservative Grace Brethren Churches, International. [edit] Theology and Worship The theology of the Old German Baptist Brethren Church is not well documented. A Doctrinal Treatise was published in 1952 and presents the doctrinal distinctives of the OGBB, but it is not a creed or formal statement of faith to which members must subscribe. The brotherhood also publishes its Minutes of the Annual Meeting which are often used in matters of church discipline, instruction, and organizational governance. Historically, the theological position of the OGBB was largely established by Peter Nead and William J. Shoup, both of whom were prolific Brethren authors and preachers. Nead, in particular, was a schooled Lutheran who converted to the Brethren and brought a refined system of teaching to the fellowship. The theological position of the OGBB can be diverse, especially in geographically sparse regions. Generally, the OGBB believe in Free Will, and that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is required for salvation, as the Bible teaches. Some believe in baptismal regeneration, while others do not. The OGBB are a non-resistant sect, whose young men usually file as conscientious objectors in times of war. They are not pacifists, however, in the same way as Quakers; although the OGBB is one of the historic Peace Churches. The form of worship is fairly consistent from church to church, with acappella singing, kneeling in prayer, sermons by elected ministers (plural ministry), and provision for divided seating with women and men assembled on opposite sides of the meetinghouse. [edit] References * Anabaptist World USA, Donald B. Kraybill and C. Nelson Hostetter, (2001) Herald Press * Roots by the River, Dr. Marcus Miller, (1973) Independently Published * Brethren Society: The Cultural Transformation of a Peculiar People, Carl F. Bowman (1995) Johns Hopkins University Press * Brethren Encyclopedia, Vol. I-III, Donald F. Durnbaugh, editor (1983) The Brethren Encyclopedia Inc. * Brethren Encyclopedia, Vol. IV, Donald F. Durnbaugh and Dale V. Ulrich, editors, Carl Bowman, contributing editor (2006) The Brethren Encyclopedia Inc. * Fruit of the Vine, A History of the Brethren 1708-1995, Donald F. Durnbaugh (1997) Brethren Press

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