7612 Wanymala Road
Henrico, Virginia 23229

804-288-6439

wrcob@wrcob.org

David Brunk, Pastor

Off Skipwith Road near
Henrico Doctors' Hospital
Get Directions

 

Sunday Mornings:

9:45 a.m. Sunday School (for all ages)

11 a.m. Worship Service (nursery care provided)

    After worship,   Fellowship Time

Hilltop Preschool

 

Who are the Brethren?

Background

We take our name from a New Testament word “Brethren,” a word that describes communities of men, women, and children given over to living in Jesus’ way of compassion. The Church of the Brethren began out of German Pietism in 1708, with the desire of reformers to more fully follow the teachings and example of Jesus. We subscribe to no formal creed or rules, but see the New Testament as our guide to faith and practice. We affirm many basic beliefs of other major denominations as we seek to encourage partnership with Christians and persons of good will through local, state, national and world religious councils. We are partnered with autonomous Church of the Brethren groups in other parts of the world, including the Ekklesiyar’ Yan’uwa a Nigeria, a church that now has more members than the Church of the Brethren in the United States.

Beliefs

Brethren uphold freedom of religious choice; living out Jesus’ teaching in both word and deed; the benefit of close fellowship; all members as ministers; basing values on the New Testament rather than society; health for the whole person; honesty in all of life; simple living; nonviolent resolution of conflict, and service to the world. Our vision for serving others has helped seed organizations such as Church World Service, On Earth Peace, Heifer International, and Brethren Volunteer Service. Comprised of 118,000 members in approximately 1,000 congregations, we are one of the three historic peace churches, along with the Mennonites and the Society of Friends.

Brethren encourage the spiritual practices of baptism for those seeking to follow Jesus; anointing for those who need healing; laying on of hands for those engaging in special missions; and love feast meals for those who want to follow Jesus’ example of foot washing, eating together and sharing bread and cup communion. 

Special Services

The spiritual practices of baptism, love feast and anointing have unique meanings for Brethren. 

Baptism
We see baptism as an act of cleansing, an act of joining, an act of initiation and an act that begins a life long journey in faith. Since it is seen as a beginning, not an end, we instruct persons to embrace baptism with studied deliberation and not mere emotion. We encourage baptism for adults and not infants, in obedience to Jesus who was baptized as an adult by John the Baptist.  Baptism is not seen as an automatic rite, but as an act that symbolizes leaving behind mistakes in God’s love and being set apart to minister in God’s power. 

In the practice of baptism, candidates promise to embrace the saving love shown by Jesus, the caring way exemplified by Jesus and the sharing community created by Jesus. We baptize people three times forward, in keeping with Jesus’ instruction to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Though we immerse, we also recognize the baptism of people from other traditions.

Love Feast
Love feast has been central to the life our faith community, and has typically been celebrated on World Communion Sunday early in October and during Holy Week before Easter.  Seeking to call to mind Jesus’ Last Supper with disciples, we gather around candlelit tables and engage in preparatory reflection, foot washing, a meal and bread and cup communion. Songs, prayers, scripture, and words of meditation invite us to love God and each other. Usually men and women wash feet separately in a circle. Persons gird themselves with a towel, wash another’s feet in a basin, rise to offer a handshake or an embrace of fellowship or a kiss on the cheek, and offer words of quiet affirmation. The footwasher’s feet are washed by a person on the opposite side of them. Hands are then cleansed in a basin. Footwashing symbolizes a re-baptism in Jesus and our willingness to serve one another. The bread and cup are then shared as signs of our agreement with God and each other, made possible by Jesus’ compassionate life that ended in suffering and death. The bread and cup are also shared in Sunday morning worship on two other occasions throughout the year.

Anointing
Brethren have always encouraged purity of mind and body, which leads to health and wholeness.  When people become broken emotionally or sick physically, we offer anointing with oil as a symbol of God’s healing love. We derive this practice from instructions in James 5:13-18.  Anointing is not seen as a magical act or last rite. It is simply a practice to help open us to God’s love. In the service, James 5:13-18 is read, and perhaps a few other scriptures. Then, the person being anointed is given moments to express from within anything positive or negative. Olive oil from the anointer’s hand is rubbed on the forehead, sometimes in the sign of the cross. The oil is rubbed on three times to symbolize the forgiveness of mistakes, the strengthening of faith, and the healing of the whole person. Hands are then laid on the head and prayers offered with everyone in the room concluding with the Lord’s Prayer in unison. The laying on of hands is used not only in anointing but also on occasions of sending persons forth in service. The practice of anointing and laying on hands points to our need for God and others in all situations. 

 

 

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