History of Christian Congregations
The Christian Congregations is the name of the movement within the evangelical Christian stream. It is a free association of autonomous congregations (local churches), which is characterized by the fraternal leadership of the church and worship, which has been reflected in the worldwide name of the "Brethren" movement. In the Czech Republic, the name of the Christian Congregations was adopted throughout the movement, under which the Congregations act as an independent church.
The Christian Churches follow the 18th and 19th centuries revival movement, especially the so-called Plymouth Brothers operating in Dublin, Bristol, Plymouth in the United Kingdom before the year 1830, and the Brüderbewegung movement in the mid-19th century Germany. In the year 1848 in the United Kingdom, the movement split into two distinct groups based on the approach to the faithful of the other Churches, the "Open Brethren" and the "Closed Brethren".
During the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, they worked in the territory of today's Czech Republic as brethren missionaries, for example F. W. Baedeker, E. H Broadbent and F. Butcher from England, J. Warns from Germany and F. Widmer from Switzerland. As example of local workers it's F. J. Křesina and J. Mrózek, graduates of the Alliance of Biblical Schools in Berlin. The school, founded also by the personalities of the Brethren movement Dr. F. W. Baedeker and General G. von Viebahn and led by a teachers from the open brothers Ch. Kohler and J. Warns, educated mission workers mainly for Russia and Eastern Europe. Other co-founders of the Brethren Movement in czech lands were scholars of British biblical societies such as K. Helmich, M. Sadloň and R. Meitner. The formation of the first congregations of this movement in the territory of today's Czech Republic took place in the year 1909. It is connected to the missionary activity of the open brethren. In the interwar period, the Brotherhood Churches used the name of the Congregations of believers in Christ. After the war the Christian Congregations enjoyed independence only until the adoption of a new Church law in 1949, which did not allow churches without structures and membership records, and with non-state civil servants. After years of illegal existence and persecution, the Christian Congregations received a state approval of their activities in 1956. However, they retained some specifics of their inner life that they needed to do their work. Since 1957, when their first constitution was approved, the churches of the Brethren movement in the Czech Republic bear the name of the Christian Congregations. At present there are about twenty congregation churches in Bohemia, and about forty in Moravia and Silesia.
The Christian Congregations in the Czech Republic also cooperate with the so-called Brethren Movement operating elsewhere. In individual countries separate churches or their unions have different names: in Germany Brüdergemeinden in the Evangelisch-Freikirchlichen Gemeinden union or as so-called Freie Brüder, Koszciół Wolnych Chrzeczcijan in Poland, the Kresťanské sbory in Slovakia.
Adherents of Christian Congregations often present themselves as Christians who are not bound to any particular church.