Old German Baptist BrethrenOld German Baptist Brethren
(OGBB) descend from a pietist movement in Schwarzenau, Germany
, when Alexander Mack founded a community with 8 believers. They are one of seven Brethren groups that trace themselves to that original founding body. These are historically part of the German Baptists or Church of the Brethren
rather than English Baptists
. Other names by which they are identified are Dunkers, Dunkards, Tunkers, and Täufer, all relating to their practice of baptism by immersion. Because of persecution, many Brethren emigrated to America. The first American congregation was founded near Germantown, Pennsylvania
. Originally known as Neue Täufer
(new Baptists), in America they used the name "German Baptist" and officially adopted the title German Baptist Brethren
at their Annual Meeting in 1871
. The Old German Baptist Brethren
represent a conservative faction that would not tolerate certain modern innovations of the 19th century. In 1881
, they broke away from the main body in order to maintain older customs, dress, and forms of worship. OGBB is noted for several ordinances like baptism, feet washing, the love feast, communion of the bread and cup, the holy kiss, and anointing of the sick with oil. Baptism is by trine forward immersion in running water. They hold an Annual Meeting associated with Pentecost, and cooperate in publishing The Vindicator
. According to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches
), the Old German Baptist Brethren had 5832 members in 57 churches in 1998
The advance of modernity is connected to two early 20th century divisions among the Old German Baptists. In 1913 a group broke away and formed the Old Brethren. They were more favorable to the use of automobiles and other innovations. They also believed the Annual Meeting should be chiefly spiritual in nature, and placed less stress on its authority than did the parent body. Their membership is under 150. As the original Old German Baptist Brethren body became more accepting of automobiles, another group withdrew in 1921 to become the Old Order German Baptist Brethren. They do not use automobiles.
There are several different Brethren groups that are not related to the Schwarzenau movement, such as the Plymouth Brethren that arose in England and Ireland early in the 19th century through the labors of Edward Cronin and John Nelson Darby.