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Dunkard Brethren

The Dunkard Brethren are a small group of conservative Schwarzenau Brethren churches that withdrew from the Church of the Brethren.

The Church of the Brethren represents the largest body of churches that descended from the original pietist movement began in Germany by Alexander Mack and seven other believers. Early in the 20th century some members began to feel that there was a drift away from apostolic standards. Because of this, a small group of conservatives withdrew from the Church of the Brethren and formed the Dunkard Brethren Church in 1926. The name Dunkard or Dunker is derived from the Pennsylvania German word dunke, which comes from the German word tunken, meaning "to immerse" or "to dip". This emphasizes the method of baptism observed by all of the various branches of Schwarzenau Brethren—trine immersion. A believer is immersed three times, once in the name of the Father, once in the name of the Son, and once in the name of the Holy Spirit. Some of the Dunkard Brethren exhibit the plainness of dress associated with the "Old Order" Brethren and Mennonites.

As defined by Webster's New International Dictionary second edition unabridged:

Dunkard, n. One of a religious denomination practicing trine immersion and refusing oaths and military service; -also Tunkers, Dippers, and, by themselves, Brethren, or, officially, German Baptist Brethren. The denomination was founded in 1708 at Schwarzenau, in Wittenburg, Germany, by Alexander Mack. In 1719 the Dunkers began to come to Pennsylvania, whence the group had spread, mainly westward. The Dunkers regard nonconformity to the world as an important principle, following closely scripture teaching and observing the primitive simplicity of the church.

The Dunkard Brethren Church has 25 congregations in the United States with approximately 900 members. They support a mission among the Navajo Indians in New Mexico, and a mission in Africa. The church's publication is called The Bible Monitor. The majority of the churches are located in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, California, and Ohio.

See also


  • The Brethren Encyclopedia, Donald Durnbaugh, editor
  • The Mennonite Encyclopedia, Cornelius J. Dyck, Dennis Martin, et al., editors

External links

  • Dunkard Brethren Church—unofficial Web Site
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