who we are
The Brethren History
The Brethren Church traces its roots back to a small group Bible study in Germany in 1708. The group believed that the “established” church of the day had gotten away from its Biblical teachings and practice. They endeavored to order their lives according to the teaching of the Bible- especially the New Testament. Because of the political and social order of the day, they found themselves persecuted for their beliefs and practices. Many fled to Holland and then to America to escape persecution.
The Brethren were plain people who endeavored to base their beliefs on the Bible and practice those beliefs in their daily lives. Many times they were known as Dunkards, German Baptists, or German Baptist Brethren. Like most denominations, they have had some divisions - usually over practice rather than doctrine.
The Brethren movement, from its beginnings in 1708, had always avoided a formal creed, fearing that it would limit the work of the Holy Spirit in shedding new light on Scripture. Brethren believe “that the Bible, and the Bible alone, is our all-sufficient creed and rule of practice.” With that unchanging motto, each generation of Brethren must struggle under the Holy Spirit’s guidance to discern the meaning of Scripture for their life. Such a process has several important values: it can give renewed purpose and direction to the church; it can bring the church to greater unity in thought and practice; and it assists the church in declaring its fundamental beliefs to the world.
Our Church's History
The First Brethren Church of South Bend traces its history to the branch of German Baptist Brethren that were called “Progressive Brethren” in the 1880’s because of their desire to use every modern way possible to share the Good News of Jesus. Our first church building was located at 1214 S. Michigan Street and was totally destroyed by fire in 1920. A new building was built in the same location and still stands there today. That building served as our home until June 1986 when the congregation relocated to its present location at 4909 S. Ironwood Drive. Our congregation continues to worship, share the Good News of Jesus, and serve the community from its S. Ironwood Drive location and has been blessed in growth of members, facilities, and programs. Rev. Fred Youngen was called in July 2014 to be the pastor and believes it a great honor to serve as this congregation’s shepherd.
We take pride in our heritage of being Brethren, but more importantly, we still embrace the ideals of the Brethren Church that we believe are still relevant today.