Led by Sydney based businessman Bruce Hales, The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church is a tiny sect, with circa 50,000 members worldwide. The breakdown geographically is based on published information and ex-brethren members. Located in the UK (17,000), Australia (15,000), New Zealand (8,000), United States and Canada (6,000). They also have a small number of followers in Argentina, The Caribbean, France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands & Sweden (4,000). They are also known as the Exclusive Brethren.
The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (PBCC) is a Christian denomination that originated in the early 19th century in Plymouth, Devon, England. The church was founded by a group of Christians who were dissatisfied with the practices of the Church of England and sought to return to what they believed were the teachings and practices of the early church. The origins of the Plymouth Brethren can be traced back to the 1820s, when a group of Christians in Dublin, Ireland, began meeting for Bible study and prayer. Among these Christians were John Nelson Darby, a former Church of Ireland clergyman, and Benjamin Wills Newton, a curate in the Church of England. The group soon grew in numbers and began to meet in a home in Plymouth, Devon, England.
The Plymouth Brethren were committed to the idea of returning to the simple, unadorned worship and practices of the early church. They rejected the hierarchical structure of the Church of England and other established churches, and instead believed in the priesthood of all believers. They placed a strong emphasis on the study of the Bible, and believed that the Holy Spirit would guide them in interpreting its teachings. In 1830, the Plymouth Brethren officially broke away from the Church of England, and the first Plymouth Brethren chapel was built in Plymouth. The movement soon spread throughout England and Ireland, and later to other parts of the world, including North America, Australia, and India.
One of the key leaders of the Plymouth Brethren was John Nelson Darby. He was a prolific writer and theologian, and is credited with developing the doctrine of dispensationalism, which holds that God interacts with humanity in different ways in different time periods or "dispensations". This concept has had a significant influence on evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity, particularly in the United States.
The Plymouth Brethren also developed a unique style of worship, which was characterized by simplicity and informality. They rejected the use of clergy and formal liturgy, and instead emphasized the importance of congregational singing, prayer, and the sharing of personal testimonies. They also believed in the practice of "open worship", which allowed any member of the congregation to share a message or a prayer during the service.
Over time, the Plymouth Brethren became increasingly fragmented, as different groups developed their own interpretations of the movement's teachings and practices. Some groups remained closely tied to the original Plymouth Brethren tradition, while others developed their own distinct traditions and beliefs.
The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, which is also known as the Exclusive Brethren, is one of the largest and most conservative groups to have emerged from the Plymouth Brethren movement. The Exclusive Brethren place a strong emphasis on separation from the world and the maintenance of strict moral standards. They have been criticized for their strict social codes, which include restrictions on the use of technology, participation in politics, and association with non-members.
Bruce D Hales: 2002 to present John S Hales: 1987 to 2002 James H Symington: 1972 to 1987 James Taylor Jnr: 1959 to 1970 James Taylor Snr: 1910 to 1953 Frederick E Raven: b)1837 d)1903 John Nelson Derby: b)1800 d)1882