Old German Baptist Brethren, New Conference

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The Old German Baptist Brethren, New Conference is a church belonging to the Schwarzenau Brethren tradition, that formed in 2009 as a result of a split among the Old German Baptist Brethren.


In 2009, a major division was a result of the rejection, by a large percentage of members (2/5ths of the membership, or approximately 2,400 individuals),[1] of an unprecedented committee report [2] adopted by the 2009 Annual Meeting held near Waterford, CA. The report stated in part, "Members of the Old German Baptist Brethren Church in full fellowship and in good standing with the Church, believe and agree that the Old German Baptist Brethren’s interpretation of NT doctrine is scriptural and has been prompted by the Holy Spirit and it is their mind to remain in this fellowship and to teach, support and promote the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It will be expected that members hearing the reading of this report will be willing to accept the same." No positions on specific questions of doctrine or church practice before the Conference were addressed in the Report, though the general understanding was that it asked for an affirmation of loyalty to traditional doctrine and practice as understood by the more traditional/conservative arm of membership. Conference representatives were sent to each district (congregation) in the brotherhood to determine the willingness of each member to accept the report. Those who refused to accept the report gave their names, which were recorded and sent to the secretary of the standing committee for processing, and they were disfellowshipped (or "put out of the church"). Members who refused were given 60 days to reconsider their decision without repercussion. Those who remained silent or did not attend the meeting were assumed to be in agreement or willing to submit to the decision, and were retained as members.

A majority of the members who did not accept the Report, and were subsequently disfellowshipped, participated in the re-organization of a new body, which was organized at a July 3, 2009, meeting in Troy, Ohio, called the "Old German Baptist Brethren: New Conference". Several fundamental disagreements identified by the New Conference and adherents [3] included: allowing regular group Bible studies outside of the Sunday worship setting; permitting open outreach & mission efforts; use of email and the Internet; Scriptural application of church discipline as guided by Matthew 18; and a perceived violation of the Scriptural principle of nonresistance, whereby majority disfellowshipped minority when they could not submit in good conscience to limited options forced upon them without prior conference council or discussion. The New Conference Polity Statement,[4] declares that "the church must never be elevated to a place of equality with Jesus Christ," reflecting the New Conference's somewhat more individualistic approach to faith (in opposition to the parent body's stronger emphasis on unity through mutual practice and theology). The majority of the remainder of the departing members have joined similar existing groups such as the Old Brethren or Dunkard Brethren, or moved on to more mainstream church fellowships.


  • Charles D. Thompson Jr.: The Old German Baptist Brethren: Faith, Farming, and Change in the Virginia Blue Ridge, (2006) University of Illinois Press.
  • Carl F. Bowman: Brethren Society: The Cultural Transformation of a Peculiar People, (1995) Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Donald B. Kraybill and Carl D. Bowman: On the Backroad to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren, (2001) Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Marcus Miller: Roots by the River, (1973) Independently Published.
  • Donald F. Durnbaugh, (editor): Brethren Encyclopedia, Vol. I-III, (1983) The Brethren Encyclopedia Inc.
  • Donald F. Durnbaugh and Dale V. Ulrich (editors), Carl Bowman, contributing editor: Brethren Encyclopedia, Vol. IV, (2006) The Brethren Encyclopedia Inc.
  • Donald F. Durnbaugh: Fruit of the Vine, A History of the Brethren 1708-1995, (1997) Brethren Press.
  • Michael Hari: Brethren Thinking, (2011) Der Bruederbote Press.
  • Donald B. Kraybill and C. Nelson Hostetter: Anabaptist World USA, (2001) Herald Press.
  • Gerald J. Mast: The Old German Baptist Brethren Church Division of 2009: The Debate over the Internet an the Authority of the Annual Meeting in The Mennonite Quarterly Review 2014, pages 45-64.


  1. ^ Cold Waters to a Thirsty Soul, Sept. 2009
  2. ^ Minutes of the Annual Meeting of The Old German Baptist Brethren Church May 30-June 2, 2009. Published by "The Vindicator"
  3. ^ Charter-Agreement Old German Baptist Brethren Church (New Conference)
  4. ^ Polity Statement, Old German Baptist Brethren Church (New Conference) July 3, 2009

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