Old Brethren German Baptist

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The Old Brethren German Baptists, also called Leedyites, are the most conservative group of Schwarzenau Brethren. They live in Indiana, Ohio and Missouri.

History[edit]

The history of the Old Brethren German Baptists dates back to 1708, when the Schwarzenau Brethren were formed in Berleburg under the leadership of Alexander Mack. Soon they moved to Pennsylvania to escape religious persecution in Europe. In the 19th century many of them moved west to Ohio and Indiana.

The traditionalists among the Brethren opposed the adoption of innovations such as revival meetings, Sunday schools, and foreign missionary work. Stressing church discipline, Annual Meeting authority, and the preservation of the "old order" of church ordinances, worship, and dress, they formed the Old German Baptist Brethren in 1881.

In 1913 the Old Brethren, centered in Salida, California and Camden, Indiana, withdrew from the Old German Baptist Brethren. In 1921, the Old Order German Baptist Brethren, centered in Dayton, Ohio broke with the Old German Baptist Brethren. Attempts in 1929-30 to reunite the Old Brethren and Old German Baptist Brethren were unsuccessful. The Old Brethren subsequently divided into two groups. The more conservative of the two, centered in Camden, Indiana, was organized in 1939 and took the name of Old Brethren German Baptists.[1]

Beliefs and practices[edit]

Old Brethren German Baptists differ from their predecessor groups by stricter adherence to traditions, such as the use of horse and buggy, instead of automobiles, as a means of transportation. They also use neither electricity nor telephones. Production and use of tobacco, acceptance of pensions and insurances on life and property are also ruled out.

They are distinct from the Old Order German Baptist Brethren, another group with similar traditions that split off from the Old German Baptist Brethren in 1921. The Old Brethren German Baptists farm with horses, while the Old Order German Baptists use tractors and other motorized equipment in their farming.

Many families are engaged in agriculture, growing produce and producing sorghum syrup.

Annual meetings are held at Pentecost in a meetinghouse near Camden, Indiana.[2]

In spite of the name, Old Brethren German Baptists do not use the German language anymore, neither a German dialect in everyday life nor Standard German for Bible and church as Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites do. Old Brethren German Baptists had already given up the use of the German language when the first split of conservatives from the main body occurred in the early 1880s.

Members and congregations[edit]

Around 1980, the Old Brethren German Baptists had three congregations and 45 members in 28 households. The largest congregation was at Camden, Indiana, followed by a congregation at Goshen, Indiana. The smallest congregation was at Arcanum, Ohio.[3]

Around 2012, there were about 130 members, including a newer group in Trenton, Missouri. This group consists mainly of converts from the car driving Old German Baptist Brethren, who withdrew over concerns about a perceived slide to modernity in their church.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ On the Backroad to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren By Donald B. Kraybill, Carl Desportes Bowman
  2. ^ The Brethren Encyclopedia, Vol. II, Donald F. Durnbaugh, editor (1983) The Brethren Encyclopedia Inc. pages 965.
  3. ^ The Brethren Encyclopedia, Vol. II, Donald F. Durnbaugh, editor (1983) The Brethren Encyclopedia Inc. pages 965.