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Unity of the Brethren

The Unity of the Brethren (or Jednota Bratrska) is a Christian denomination whose roots are in the pre-reformation work of Jan Hus, who was martyred in 1415.

Table of contents
1 Background
2 Doctrine
3 Church Emblem
4 Status
5 External links
6 References


The reforms of Jan Hus (which included providing the Scriptures to the people in their own language, and that both elements of communion should be available to the people) were popular with the Czech people, but met extreme opposition from church authorities. Hus was martryed, but his teachings led to the formation of the Unity of the Brethren (Latin Unitas Fratum; Czech Jednota Bratrska) in 1457. After 1620, due to a counter-reformation by the Catholic Church, Protestants were forced to choose to either leave the country or practice their beliefs secretly. Of those who chose to leave, some became the present-day Moravian Church. Those who stayed practiced their beliefs in secret and privately passed their beliefs from one generation to the next. Even after Emperor Joseph proclaimed toleration in 1781, only Lutheran and Calvinists were allowed to openly practice their faith. Many of the Brethren united with the Lutherans and Calvinist around that time.

From about the middle of the 19th century until the outbreak of the first World War, a number of Czechs immigrated to farms in the state of Texas in the United States. Here, with the prospect of religious freedom, they resurrected the beliefs of Hus and formed congregations of believers. Jindrich Juren (1850-1921) came to Texas in 1876, and from 1881 through 1888 was the only minister to these Brethren congregations. Representatives of these congregations met in 1903 and formed the Evangelical Unity of the Czech-Moravian Brethren in North America. The early churches reflected their origin and worshipped in the Czech language. By the 1940s, most of the churches reflected assimiliation into the surrounding culture and worshipped in the English language. In 1959, the name Unity of the Brethren was adopted.


This body accepts the Apostles' Creed as a valid expression of their beliefs, and stresses the ancient motto, "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love." They believe the Bible is God's revelation to man, the sourcebook for all spiritual truth; that one God is revealed in three persons; that Christ is the only way of salvation; that salvation is by grace through faith; that the Holy Spirit indwells believers; and that Jesus Christ will return to judge the world and reward the faithful believers. The Unity practices two sacraments - water baptism and holy communion. Christian parents present their infant children for baptism. All Christians are invited to commune with them at the Lord's supper or communion. However, they do not regard full agreement on the elements, methods and modes of the sacraments as essential. They believe that love is the supreme evidence of Christian disciples.

Church Emblem

The Unity of the Brethren church has adopted a church emblem having an open Bible, with a cross behind in the center, and a chalice in front to the left. According to the church, the "cross represents Christ as the resurrected and living Lord, the Bible is the sourcebook of all Christian truth, open for all to explore, while the chalice holds special significance for Brethren: not only is it a symbol of the Lord's Supper, but it is also a reminder of the pre-Reformation insistence of John Hus and the early Brethren upon receiving the Cup as well as bread in Holy Communion."


Currently the church is made up of 28 congregations with an estimated membership of 3500, with all except one located in the state of Texas. The location of the majority of churches is roughly the area from Austin to Houston. The synod meets every two years. The Unity of the Brethren maintains several ministry organizations, including the Board of Christian Education; Brethren Youth Fellowship; Brethren Bookstore, operated in Pasadena, Texas; Brethren Journal (founded 1902); Christian Sisters Union; Friends of the Hus Encampment; Grants and Bequests Board; the Hus Institute for Lay Leadership (which meets with the various congregations); and the Mutual Aid Society. The Hus Encampment Facility is located near Caldwell, Texas. They have no seminary, but support the Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Three missionary families are serving in Honduras and Mexico.

The Czech-originated Unity of the Brethren should not be confused with the Unity of the Brethren Baptists, a Baptist organization in the Czech and Slovak Republics.

External links