Barum Brethren? No, that’s not us

By Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

A note to the reader: Since this article was first published earlier this week, TopBuzzTrends has issued an apology and a correction.

A bunch of websites are very confused. In reviewing The Long Call–a new ITV and BritBox TV show made from an Ann Cleeves book of the same name–they’re identifying the fictional “Barum Brethren” as a Church of the Brethren congregation.,,, and have now joined the list of media that have, over the years, mistaken the Church of the Brethren for someone else. It’s a cautionary tale about how such mistakes are made and get shared way too widely. These posts appear to have taken details from our website and mixed them up with information from other groups, most likely the Plymouth Brethren.

But we’re not the Plymouth Brethren either!

Plymouth Brethren–not us.

Exclusive Brethren–not us.

Open Brethren–not us.

Barum Brethren–also not us!

There are several Christian groups that are like distant cousins to us–the Brethren Church, Old Order German Baptist Brethren, Dunkard Brethren, Grace Brethren, Brethren in Christ–and none are related to the Plymouth Brethren.

So who are we?

The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination in the United States and Puerto Rico, with some 99,000 members in 24 church districts. We got our start in Germany in 1708, based in the Anabaptist and Pietist faith traditions. We are one of the three Historic Peace Churches along with the Mennonites and the Society of Friends (Quakers). We are a founding member of the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, and we work collaboratively with many other Christian groups.

Here are 7 things to know about the real Church of the Brethren:

  1. Church of the Brethren congregations often are well regarded in their communities, and for attendees of all ages may be places to ask spiritual questions and delve deeply into the Christian faith.
  2. Our gatherings (in-person or virtual) often succeed in transcending ordinary life through music and singing, prayer, sharing joys and concerns, reading the Bible, and learning about God.
  3. Our denominational programs offer numerous opportunities to engage in disaster relief and service projects, develop and grow discipleship to Jesus Christ, and in other ways love our neighbors.
  4. Across the US, there are Church of the Brethren congregations worshiping in at least five languages including English, Spanish, Haitian Kreyol, Arabic, and ASL.
  5. There are other Church of the Brethren denominations in about a dozen countries, some very small, but all with connections to us here in the US.
  6. Our seminary (Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.) among its degree and certificate offerings includes a master’s degree in theopoetics–the only one of its kind!
  7. During the pandemic we have given COVID-19 grants to congregations and camps.

We know it’s going to be a “long call” to get these websites to acknowledge their mistake and take down the articles or make corrections. But if they do, we’ll let you know.

In the meantime, you can help correct this mistake by sharing this article with family and friends and on social media.

And find out more about the real Church of the Brethren at


— Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford is director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren, and serves as associate editor of the Church of the Brethren magazine Messenger, working out of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., USA. Contact her at or 224-735-9692 (cell).


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