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Religious persecution drove the Brethren to take refuge in Friesland, in the Netherlands.In 1719 Peter Becker brought a group to Pennsylvania.
The Old German Baptist Brethren are historically known as German Baptists in contrast to English Baptists, who have different roots.Other names by which they are sometimes identified are Dunkers, Dunkards, Tunkers, and Täufer, all relating to their practice of baptism by immersion.Originally known as Neu-Täufer (new Baptists), in America they used the name "German Baptist" and officially adopted the title "German Baptist Brethren" at their Annual Meeting in 1871.In 1883, the Brethren Church left the German Baptist Brethren over several matters including Sunday Schools, higher education, plain dress, revivalism, and church discipline.The Old German Baptist Brethren represent the conservative faction that would not tolerate certain modern innovations of the 19th century, while the Brethren Church represent the progressive faction.Mack along with the seven others believed that both the Lutheran and Reformed churches were taking liberties with the "true" Christianity revealed in the New Testament, so they rejected established liturgy, including infant baptism and existing Eucharistic practices.
The founding Brethren were broadly influenced by Radical Pietist understandings of an invisible, nondenominational church of awakened Christians who would fellowship together in purity and love, awaiting Christ's return.
Around 1740 almost all Brethren had relocated to Pennsylvania and they ceased to exist as an organized group in Europe.
Peter Becker organized the first American congregation at Germantown, Pennsylvania, on December 25, 1723.
It rejects baptism of infants as a biblically valid form of baptism.
It is one of several Schwarzenau Brethren groups that trace their roots to 1708, when eight believers founded a new church in Schwarzenau, Germany.
The monastic feature and celibacy were gradually abandoned after the American Revolution.