The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination with origins in the Schwarzenau Brethren (German: Schwarzenauer Neutäufer 'Schwarzenau New Baptists') that was organized in 1708 by Alexander Mack in Schwarzenau, Germany. The Brethren movement began as a melding of Radical Pietist and Anabaptist ideas during the Protestant Reformation. The first of its churches in the United States was established in 1723. These church bodies became commonly known as "Dunkers," and more formally as German Baptist Brethren. The denomination holds the New Testament as its only creed. Historically the church has taken a strong stance for non-resistance or pacifism. It is one of the three historic peace churches, the other two being the Mennonites and the Quakers. Distinctive practices include believers baptism by trine immersion; a threefold love feast consisting of feet washing, a fellowship meal, and communion; anointing for healing; and the holy kiss.
The Church of the Brethren represents the largest body descending from Mack's Schwarzenau Brethren church. The German Baptist Brethren suffered a major division in the early 1880s, creating three wings: traditionalists such as the Old German Baptist Brethren, progressives led by The Brethren Church, and the conservatives, who adopted the name Church of the Brethren in 1908. The church had 122,810 members as of June 2010 and 1,047 congregations in the United States and Puerto Rico as of August 2010. There are six liberal arts colleges and one seminary (Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana) related to the Church of the Brethren. General offices and the Brethren Press are located in Elgin, Illinois.
In 1948 the Church of the Brethren joined the World Council of Churches as a charter member and was a forming member of the National Council of Churches in 1950.