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The following terms reflect the culture of the Church of the Brethren, a denomination grounded on the principles of Anabaptism and founded through the Pietist efforts of Alexander Mack, in the summer of 1708 near the small German village of Schwarzenau. This resource is not an exhaustive compilation of all denominational terminology, which might also be garnered from other Brethren works, such as the Brethren Encyclopedia, Brethren Bibliography, European Origins, Brethren in America, Ephrata Cloister, 19th Century Acculturation, Brethren Timeline, Brethren Groups, and Brethren Genealogy. You are encouraged to share your comments, suggestions, or corrections with the Web Administrator.


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Feet Washing

Jesus washed the feet of the disciples while celebrating His last Passover. He finished this act of humility by saying: ““For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you,” John 13:15. Why this act was done is a matter of theological conjecture but the most often cited reason is the dispute that arose among the disciples concerning who was the most important: ““And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest,” Luke 22:24. Feet washing is not only an act of humility but it is also one of self denial. Since Judas did not leave this gathering until at least verse 30, Jesus had washed the feet of the very one who would betray Him. Thus, our Lord truly put into practice His very own teaching from the Sermon on the Mount: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” Matthew 5:44. Washing the feet of another person is a very important segment of the Brethren observance of Love Feast and Communion. Not only does it adhere to Jesus' admonition to follow His example, but it enforces upon each person the continued remembrance that no individual is more important than another.

Two methods of Feet washing have been practiced among Brethren in America: Single mode and Double mode. The chief difference being that the Single Mode involves each person and the Double Mode does not. Single Mode is probably observed by most Brethren because it is more inclusive.

  • Single Mode: One person washes and drys the feet of a second person, then in like manner the second person washes and drys the feet of a third who continues the observance until everyone has washed and dried the feet of someone else.
  • Double Mode: Two people working together in tandem, whereby the first washes the feet of everyone and the second drys the feet of everyone. In this mode, not everyone participates the washing and drying.
See also Agape, Love Feast.
Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists (FOBG)

A genealogical member organization established in 1966, and sponsored by the Historical Committee of the Church of the Brethren. Some of the primary functions of the FOBG is:

  • To foster communication among persons tracing the same Brethren ancestral lines.
  • To encourage research in Brethren genealogy.
  • To encourage the preservation of materials relating to the history and genealogy of Brethren families.

The Fellowship cooperates with the Historical Committee and the Brethren Historical Library & Archives (BHLA) in building up the genealogical collection of the Library. Members are encouraged to donate family genealogies or other genealogical resources, published or unpublished, to the Fellowship. These are reviewed in Brethren Roots and then are added to the holdings of BHLA, where they are available to researchers.

Each year at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference an exhibit booth is maintained throughout the Conference on behalf of the Fellowship. The officers invite the help of members in staffing the booth. Persons wishing to volunteer or having materials they would like to have displayed should contact the president. Members are invited to stop at the booth, get acquainted, and see what is on display. The dates for the Conference are announced each year in Brethren Roots.

Members are encouraged to contribute records of Brethren cemeteries, both in their home areas and in areas where they research. Many of these are already listed and have been placed in local libraries or historical societies. The Fellowship needs help in locating and obtaining copies of these records. Other Brethren cemeteries have never been listed. Fellowship members can perform a real service to other researchers by recording the information from the stones before they disappear.

Fill The Ark

A mission program working in cooperation with Heifer Project International to raise money and consciousness about poverty and hunger throughout the world. Point of focus is often a small coin bank in the form of an Ark, that is given to children for collection.

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““For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.””
Philippians 4:9