Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Brethren

I grew up with the Brethren.* They were always a semi-mysterious group to those of us on the outside looking in. Everyone in St. Vincent knew them, worked with them, were neighbors of them, even went to school with them. But we really didn't know them. Many of them left their church, knowing full well that they would be ostracized from the rest of the group for the rest of their lives, including their own parents and siblings. Those that did leave often felt torn between loss and a sense of freedom. Others never looked back, bitter from their experiences.

The Brethren were early settlers to the St. Vincent area, and although apart, were at the same time part of the community. While they continue to be to this day, they appear to be drawing further apart by creating and maintaining separate schools for their children, where in earlier years they sent their offspring to the public schools.

For a few years, the self-appointed 'universal leader' of the Exclusive Brethren was James Symington from Neche, North Dakota.

When I was growing up, periodically we'd drive by a man on the corner by the Tastee Freez in Pembina (the old location by the Pembina School) who was street preaching. My Mom said it was a Brethren man, and that what he said was true, meaning it agreed with what our church taught. I always wondered if it is a tenet of the Brethen's faith to do this public preaching, sort of like how the Mormons feel it's important to go door-to-door...or, if it was just the personal beliefs of that particular Brethren man...?

* To be specific, they are the Exclusive Brethren