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This article is about the various religious denominations. For The Brethren, see The Brethren (disambiguation). For the novel by Robyn Young, see Brethren (novel).

Brethren is a name adopted by a wide range of mainly Christian religious groups throughout history which do not necessarily share historical roots, including some of the earliest primitive churches[citation needed], the Brethren of the Free Spirit, the Schwarzenau Brethren and some Anabaptist groups, the Moravian Brethren, and the Plymouth Brethren, among many others.

Medieval era groups[edit]

Anabaptist groups[edit]

These groups grew out of the Anabaptist movement at the time of the Protestant Reformation (16th century).

  • The Hutterites or Hutterian Brethren are descendants of German, Swiss, and Tyrolean Anabaptists led by Jacob Hutter, who was burned at the stake in 1536 for refusing to renounce his faith
  • The Swiss Brethren were an early Anabaptist group that later divided into the Amish and Mennonite groups (particularly the Swiss Mennonite Conference)
  • The Mennonite Brethren originated among Russian Mennonites in 1860

Schwarzenau Brethren[edit]

The Schwarzenau Brethren originated in 1708 in Schwarzenau, Bad Berleburg, Germany, with Alexander Mack. Their roots are in the Radical Pietism movement but they were strongly influenced by Anabaptist theology. They have also been called "Dunkers" or "German Baptist Brethren". The group split into three wings in 1881–1883:




Plymouth Brethren[edit]

The various Plymouth Brethren bodies originated in the 1820s work of John Nelson Darby and others in Ireland and the United Kingdom as well as India:

River Brethren[edit]

The River Brethren owe their origins to the combined labors of Reformed pastor Philip William Otterbein and Mennonite Martin Boehm, beginning in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in the latter half of the 18th century. They were also influenced by the Schwarzenau Brethren and include (amongst others):

Other religious groups[edit]

Miscellaneous (non-religious)[edit]

See also[edit]