Brethren Distinctives

    The Brethren avoid the use of the term "sacraments," preferring the term "ordinances." This refers to the symbolic actions ordered by Jesus Christ and practiced by the early church. The Brethren ordinances are:

Anointing for healing
A supplicant is administered a small amount of oil on his forehead. This is followed by the laying on of hands and a prayer for wholeness. This is not to be confused with extreme unction (last rites), since healing is prayed for and expected. Healing is explicitly stated to include emotional and spiritual, as well as physical healing.
Anointing and laying on of hands have also been used for other purposes, such as consecrating someone for missions or other special service.

Believer's Baptism
    The Brethren believe that baptism is an outward sign of an inward experience of salvation. Hence, baptism is not performed until one is able to understand and accept the message of the gospel, typically at about age thirteen. In the early years of the denomination, the age at baptism was generally older. The mode of baptism is trine (three times) immersion in a forward direction in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This is followed by laying on of hands for the impartation of the Holy Spirit.
    In the early years of the church, people coming into the Church of the Brethren from other denominations were expected to be re-baptized. Today, most congregations will receive members by reaffirmation of faith or by letter of transfer from another congregation or denomination. 

Love Feast
Main article: John 13
    The Brethren love feast is a conscious imitation of Jesus' last supper with his disciples. It begins with foot washing symbolizing humility and service. They then share a meal, symbolizing fellowship. Finally, they share the bread and cup communion, symbolizing participation in Christ's suffering and death. There may also be hymns and a sermon, as well as a preliminary time of self-examination.
    Congregations typically hold love feast on Maundy Thursday and again about six months later. Some congregations also have bread-and-cup communion periodically during regular worship services.

   The Brethren state that they have "no creed but the New Testament." If there is a single part of the New Testament that is most pointed to as a guide for member's life it is The Sermon on the Mount. The early Brethren were very meticulous in applying the New Testament to every situation. For example, they baptize in a forward direction because "we are baptized into his death," and at the moment of his death, Jesus' head fell forward.
    When disagreements arise regarding the correct interpretation of New Testament passages or general congregation issues, local moderators go to their regional conference for resolution. If necessary, the final authority for settling such disputes is the Annual Conference. The minutes of Annual Conference give a clear picture of what matters have been in dispute and how Brethren interpret the New Testament. However, some congregations accept or even encourage individual interpretation of the Bible and their faith. 
     Brethren espouse the basic beliefs of Christianity, the divinity of Christ. We emphasize peace, simplicity, equality of believers, consistent obedience to Christ. Community, both within and outside the church, is promoted and Brethren often describe ourselvess in terms of what we do rather than what they believe. Brethren also believe that "faith without works is dead", and have been heavily involved in disaster relief and other charitable work.