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Archives of Brethren in Christ Church
The Brethren in Christ denomination was founded more than 200 years ago, less than 30 miles from the present location of Messiah College. The denomination began around 1775 when a group of Mennonites in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, came into contact with ministers preaching the "new birth."
Before long, these men and women started meeting together, and they eventually formed their own church body. Originally called the "River Brethren" (because of their proximity to the Susquehanna River), these early Brethren in Christ represented a marriage of Anabaptism and Pietism. Later, a large segment of the denomination embraced John Wesley's teachings on holiness. Thus, Wesleyanism joined Anabaptism and Pietism to weave the unique theological fabric of the Brethren in Christ Church.
Early Brethren in Christ members lived a rather sectarian lifestyle, emphasizing the importance of living separate from "the world." Even into the twentieth century, many Brethren in Christ persons dressed in plain clothes, the kind of clothing that is now associated with the Old Order Amish and Mennonites.
Plain dress is largely a thing of the past, and there is much less emphasis today on living a separatist lifestyle. To the contrary, the church's members now engage the broader culture in numerous ways, and its churches actively seek to share Christ's love with their surrounding communities. Brethren in Christ mission workers have planted churches in over twenty countries, the result being that less than half of the denomination's membership now resides in North America.
Despite these changes, the Brethren in Christ Church continues to reflect its Anabaptist, Pietist and Wesleyan heritage, placing strong emphases on disciplined living, heartfelt worship, and peacemaking. The Brethren in Christ Church seeks to be broadly evangelical while valuing its theological roots.
- excerpted from the web site of The Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan Studies
For more information on the Brethren in Christ Church, visit the denomination's official web site.
Listing of Record Groups
The Archives of the Brethren in Christ Church is the official home for records generated by boards, agencies, and institutions of the denomination. These records consist of minutes and other materials that are related to the work and operations of the originating body. Some records, because of their sensitive nature, may be restricted from public use.