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  #1  
Unread 23rd April 2007, 11:00 PM
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Brethren vs mennonite

Hi everyone,

I am wondering if anyone can shed some light on the differences of Brethren and Mennonite - at least in your experience.

I've attended both kinds of church's here in Maine - a VERY conservative Brethren church and a somewhat liberal Mennonite Church. I love both.

BUT - the brethren Church seems judgemental to me - but I do understand it because it is scriptural. It's also a BIT too conservative to me (i.e. no music except voices).

The Mennonite church is open and a bit more liberal - a bit more than I'm comfortable with (i.e. only 4 of us ladies in the entire congregation - which is small - wore coverings).

Both Church's have WONDERFUL people in it - the Brethren one is a bit more open.

BUT - the Brethren church did not celebrate Easter, which bothered my beloved husband and myself...nor did it have communion on the first Sunday of the month.

so - I'm wondering - what I'm experiencing...is it "normal", and what should I look for in both kinds of church's?

Thanks, and may the Lord richly bless you!

Crystal
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  #2  
Unread 24th April 2007, 12:58 AM
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Which variety of Brethren is it? There are lots of Brethren churches, including Brethren in Christ, Church of the Brethren, Grace Brethren, Old Baptist Brethren, Plymouth Brethren, etc.
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  #3  
Unread 24th April 2007, 10:01 AM
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The Brethren church I used to go to was anything but conservative from an anabaptist viewpoint.

Yes, all the women dressed in identical costumes when they were at church, but when they weren't, they walked around in short-shorts and tank tops (and women over 40 should never wear short-shorts and tank tops no matter how good they think their bodies look) and acted just like everyone else. The only time they were conservative was between 9 am and 1 pm on sundays.

As Joykins pointed out, there are dozens of different brethren from the very conservative River Brethren and to the less convervative Dunkard Brethren, to the midline Brethren in Christ to the more liberal Grace Brethren to the quite liberal Open Brethren.
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  #4  
Unread 24th April 2007, 10:36 AM
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I wouldn't call Grace Brethren liberal, exactly. More like conservative. Of all the Anabaptist groups, I think they're probably most like the Baptists.
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  #5  
Unread 24th April 2007, 12:20 PM
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The Grace Brethren I know are a lot more liberal than Mennonites, which I would consider the middle-of-the-road Anabaptists.

For instance, Grace Brethren decorate their churches with carpeting, chandliers, fancy wordwork and wall art. They dress pretty much as dictated by current fashion and they practice "lifestyle evangelism" which is meant to attract new believers by showing off upper-middle class lifestyle. They also have rock and roll music in their services and allow women pastors. They don't adhere to the peace witness and can actually glorify military service.

For Anabaptists, that's pretty liberal.
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  #6  
Unread 24th April 2007, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by ZiSunka View Post
The Grace Brethren I know are a lot more liberal than Mennonites, which I would consider the middle-of-the-road Anabaptists.

For instance, Grace Brethren decorate their churches with carpeting, chandliers, fancy wordwork and wall art. They dress pretty much as dictated by current fashion and they practice "lifestyle evangelism" which is meant to attract new believers by showing off upper-middle class lifestyle. They also have rock and roll music in their services and allow women pastors. They don't adhere to the peace witness and can actually glorify military service.

For Anabaptists, that's pretty liberal.
Interesting how so much of what constitutes conservative or liberal depend on your frame of reference....

From my perspective (and I was raised in this denomination without actually being aware of how Grace Brethren fit in with the Anabaptists at all):

Grace Brethren are also more or less Calvinist. They have position statements on homosexuality and abortion that place them squarely in the "conservative evangelical" spectrum of the larger world of Christianity. I'm pretty sure they don't ordain women, either...they didn't when I was a kid and it would surprise my socks off if they do now.
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  #7  
Unread 24th April 2007, 10:51 PM
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They may have changed a little since you were a kid.

The Grace Brethren church near me has a woman who co-pastors with a man, he preaches one week and she preaches the next, and on their governing board, there is an abstainant homosexual man.

They are Calvinist, though. I've always wondered why they are considered Anabaptist, since they are Calvinist and don't hold the peace witness, which is exactly opposite Anabaptist tradition.
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  #8  
Unread 24th April 2007, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by ZiSunka View Post
They may have changed a little since you were a kid.
I do know that worship styles have changed drastically since I was a kid. It was all hymns when I was little, except for the hairy guys that strummed the guitars accompanying proto-praise-choruses.

The Grace Brethren church near me has a woman who co-pastors with a man, he preaches one week and she preaches the next, and on their governing board, there is an abstainant homosexual man.

They are Calvinist, though. I've always wondered why they are considered Anabaptist, since they are Calvinist and don't hold the peace witness, which is exactly opposite Anabaptist tradition.
I guess it's kind of like I have a Philadelphia accent even though I've never lived there. My parents are from there and I *inherited* it...the Grace Brethren are descended from the Anabaptist movement even though they are far from its mainstream.
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  #9  
Unread 26th April 2007, 12:04 AM
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I'm not sure which kind of Brethren church it is...I'll have to look into that.

I do know that there are 5 things required to become members of the church (and these must be done everyday - not just on Sundays)

1) Woman must wear modest clothing - dresses or skirts at least below the knees, preferably to the ankles

2) Woman must be covered at all times (hair)

3) Woman must not cut their hair

4) No jewelry - including wedding jewelry

5) No divorce and remarriage - divorce is okay in EXTENUATING circumstances (there are 3 divorced people in the church) but NO remarriage, as it is considered a sin in the Church. Remarriage if widowed is acceptable as long as not a minister (the minister is a widow and will never remarry).

In addition to the rules, the following are expected: Men must dress modestly in mens clothing and wear a beard (but preferably no moustache). Homeschool children (only one child in the entire church goes to a private school but only because he is gifted and his mother can't homeschool him).
  #10  
Unread 26th April 2007, 08:06 PM
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The Brethren churches in Maine (all three) are "Church of the Brethren", but are quite conservative as that denomination goes. They were started by the Brethren Revival Fellowship. You may have misunderstood a few things about the Brethren on your visits. Some things are done just out of common habit, not because the church makes a rule for members. We'll contact you privately. Don't feel embarrassed, please.

It's hard to really classify the differences between Mennonites and Brethren at the congregational level. The basic differences would be that the Mennonites would practice the Lord's Supper (traditionally twice a year) where the Brethren practice a much more elaborate "Love Feast". The Mennonites traditionally baptize by pouring, the Brethren by immersion -three times. Because of the wide spectrum of types of churches (liberal to conservative) among Mennonite and Brethren, some Brethren churches would be more traditional Mennonite-like and some Mennonite churches would be closer in some practices to the Brethren these days.

Unfortunately this might not be the best forum for trying to find out about the differences between Mennonites and Brethren, as I don't think there are many Mennonites or Brethren here (especially conservative ones). Try Yahoo Groups, in particular, Anabaptist Seekers (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Anabaptist_Seekers) or Conservative Anabaptists (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Conservative_Anabaptists)
There are other Amish and Mennonite discussion groups, but they are moderated to keep in line with a particular conservative church's doctrines or others are more Anti-Amish and Mennonite. There is also Mark Roth's Seeker's Refuge (http://www.eaf.net/cgi-bin/webbbs/seekers/seekers.cgi) which has some great freewheeling discussions especially for folks from outside Anabaptist upbringing.
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