The name Plymouth Brethren identifies several small Christian sects of common origin - found in Britain, Europe, and the United States - that are conservative in theology and millenarian in outlook. The movement had its beginning in Ireland and England in the 1820s, Plymouth being a main center of activity. The most prominent early leader was John Nelson Darby (1800 - 82), who taught that Christ might return at any moment and in a "secret rapture" would take away the members of the true church to dwell in heaven. The polity of the Plymouth Brethren is congregational, following New Testament models.
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D J Beattie, Brethren: The Story of a Great Recovery Movement (1942); F R Coad, A History of the Brethren Movement (1968); H A Ironside, A Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement (1985); H H Rowdon, The Origins of the Brethren: 1825 - 1850 (1967).
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