The Plymouth Brethren are a conservative, low church, non-conformist, evangelical Christian movement whose history can be traced to Dublin, Ireland in the late 1820s, originating from Anglicanism. The group emphasizes sola scriptura, the belief that the Bible is the supreme authority for church doctrine and practice, over and above any other source of authority. Plymouth Brethren generally see themselves as a network of like-minded free churches, not as a Christian denomination.
The origins of the Brethren are usually traced to Dublin, Ireland where several groups of Christians met informally to celebrate the Lord's Supper together in 1827–8. Of these, the central figures were Anthony Norris Groves, a dentist studying theology at Trinity College, Edward Cronin, studying medicine, John Nelson Darby, then a curate in County Wicklow, and John Gifford Bellett, a lawyer who brought them together. "A circle was to be drawn just wide enough to include 'all the children of God,' and to exclude all who did not come under that category." They did not require ministers or even an order of service. Their guide was to be the Bible alone.
An important early stimulus was in the study of prophecy which was the subject of a number of annual meetings at Powerscourt House in County Wicklow starting in 1831. Lady Powerscourt had attended Henry Drummond's prophecy conferences at Albury Park and, in 1831, Darby was espousing the same pre-tribulational view of the future as the charismatic Edward Irving. Many people came to these meetings who became important in the English movement, including Benjamin Wills Newton and George Müller.
The two main but conflicting aspirations of the movement were to create a holy and pure fellowship on one hand, and to allow all Christians into fellowship on the other. Believers in the movement felt that the established Church of England had abandoned or distorted many of the ancient traditions of Christendom, following decades of dissent and the expansion of Methodism and political revolutions in the United States and France. To get away from the sectarianism of dissenters, people in the movement wanted simply to meet together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ without reference to denominational differences. Early meetings included Christians from a variety of denominations.
The first meeting in England was held in December 1831 in Plymouth. It was organised primarily by George Wigram, Benjamin Wills Newton, and John Nelson Darby. The movement soon spread throughout the United Kingdom. By 1845, the assembly in Plymouth had more than 1,000 people in fellowship. They became known as "the brethren from Plymouth" and were soon simply called "Plymouth Brethren". The term "Darbyites" is also used, especially when describing the "Exclusive" branch where the influence of John Nelson Darby is more pronounced. Many within the movement refuse to accept any name other than "Christian".
In 1845, Darby returned from an extended visit to Switzerland where he had achieved considerable success in planting churches. Returning to Plymouth where Newton was firmly in control, he disagreed with some details in a book that Newton had published concerning the tribulation that was coming. He also objected to Newton's place as an elder in the Plymouth meeting. But several attempts to settle the quarrel in the presence of other brethren failed to produce any clear result. Two years later, Darby attacked Newton over notes taken by hearers of a lecture that Newton had given on the 6th Psalm. A fierce exchange of tracts followed and, although Newton retracted some of his statements, he eventually left Plymouth and established another chapel in London.
Darby had instituted a second meeting at Plymouth, and in 1848 he complained of the Bristol Bethesda assembly, in which George Müller was prominent, that they had accepted a member from Ebrington Street, Newton's original chapel. After investigation of the individual, Bethesda defended their decision, but Darby was not satisfied. He issued a circular on 26 August 1848, cutting off not only Bethesda but all assemblies who received anyone who went there. This defined the essential characteristic of "exclusivism" that he pursued for the rest of his life.
The Exclusive Brethren have suffered many subsequent splits. McDowell records at least six. The Open Brethren also suffered one split (concerning the autonomy of assemblies) which occurred at different times in different parts of the world. But both sides continued to expand their congregations, with the opens expanding more rapidly than the exclusives, perhaps due to the opens' emphasis on faith missions.
Itinerant preachers carried both the open and exclusive brethren to North America after the middle of the 19th century. Darby made a number of visits in the 1870s and his emphasis on prophecy was influential.
Brethren assemblies (as their gatherings are most often called) are divided into two major branches: the Open Brethren and the Exclusive Brethren, following a schism that took place in 1848. Both of these main branches are themselves divided into several smaller streams, with varying degrees of communication and overlap among them. (The general category "Exclusive Brethren" has been confused in the media with a much smaller group known as the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (PBCC) or the Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren, numbering only around 40,000 worldwide.)
The best-known and oldest distinction between Open and Exclusive assemblies is in the nature of relationships among their local churches. Open Brethren assemblies function as networks of like-minded independent local churches. Exclusive Brethren are generally connectional and so feel under obligation to recognize and adhere to the disciplinary actions of other associated assemblies. Thus for Exclusive Brethren disciplinary action normally involves denying the individual participation in the breaking of bread or Lord's table. Generally, this is a Sunday morning service of prayer, singing, teaching, and taking communion, with important assembly-related announcements given at the end. Exclusion from it is a major issue.
Discipline among Brethren may also involve formal social ostracism or "shunning" to varying degrees, dependent upon which kind of Brethren group it is. For instance, people placed "under discipline" may be asked not to attend any group functions which are purely social, and people may decline to eat or even shake hands with members who are under discipline.
One practical result of this among Open Brethren is that, should a member be disciplined in one assembly, other Open assemblies aware of that disciplining would not automatically feel any binding obligation to deny that person participation in their breaking of bread service, as long as their leadership does not consider whatever caused the disciplinary action a serious issue. A numerically small movement known as the Needed Truth Brethren emerged from the Open Brethren around 1892, partly in an attempt to address the problem of making discipline more effective.
Reasons for being put under discipline by both the Open and Exclusive Brethren include disseminating gross Scriptural or doctrinal error, in the eyes of the fellowship, or being involved in what is deemed sexual immorality (including adulterous, homosexual, or premarital sex). Being accused of irregular or illegal financial dealings may also result in being put under discipline. In Exclusive meetings, a member under discipline in one assembly would not be accepted in another assembly (allowed to break bread or play an active teaching and worshipping role), as one assembly generally respects the decisions made by another assembly.
Exclusive assemblies are also much more adherent to the shunning (or shutting up) of the offending party, using as guidance instructions given in Leviticus 14:34–48 for dealing with a "leprous house". In extreme cases, members may be asked to shun or divorce members of their immediate families (as described in Ngaire Thomas' book Behind Closed Doors).
Another less clear difference between assemblies lies in their approaches to collaborating with other Christians. Many Open Brethren will hold gospel meetings, youth events, or other activities in partnership with non-Brethren Evangelical Christian churches. More conservative Open Brethren—and perhaps the majority of Exclusive Brethren—tend not to support activities outside their own meetings.
Since the formation of the Exclusives in 1848, there have been a great number of subdivisions into separate groups, but most groups have since rejoined, with the exception of the separatist Plymouth Brethren Christian Church. This group is informally known as "Jimite" from their following of James Taylor, Jr at the division in 1970, and they are also referred to historically as the Raven-Taylor-Hales Exclusive Brethren. This group practices extreme separation, and other Brethren groups generally accuse it of being a cult. Most other Exclusive groups (Closed Brethren) prefer not to be known by any name and are only given such designations by non-members.
There are some movements with strong Brethren connections that are less easy to classify. The Assemblies Jehovah Shammah of India, for example, are usually regarded as Open Brethren because of their general willingness to work and worship together with other Evangelical Christians, and because their foreign connections tend to be with Open Brethren. The ecclesiology, however, has more in common with that of the Exclusive Brethren; founder Bakht Singh maintained tight control over the movement until his death in 2000.
Both Open and Exclusive assemblies generally maintain relations within their respective groups through common support of missionaries, area conferences, and the travelling ministries of "commended workers", "laboring brothers", and itinerant evangelists.
Some Exclusives hold to household Baptism as opposed to believers Baptism, which is practiced by the Open Brethren. All assemblies welcome visitors to gospel meetings and other gatherings, with the exception of the Lord's Supper. Many Exclusive Brethren and some of the more traditional Open Brethren feel that the Lord's Supper is reserved for those who are in right standing before God. Fellowship in the Lord's Supper is not considered a private matter but a corporate expression, "Because we, being many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake of that one loaf" (1 Corinthians 10:17).
The term "Exclusive" is most commonly used in the media to describe one separatist group known as Taylor-Hales Brethren, who now call themselves the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (PBCC). The majority of Christians known as Exclusive Brethren are not connected with the Taylor-Hales group, who are known for their extreme interpretation of separation from evil and their belief of what constitutes fellowship. In their view, fellowship includes dining out, business and professional partnerships, membership of clubs, etc., rather than just the act of Communion (Lord's Supper), so these activities are done only with other members.
The group called the Raven Brethren (named for prominent Exclusive leader F.E. Raven) seceded from the Raven-Taylor-Hales group and are less strict and isolationist. Exclusive Brethren groups who are not affiliated with PBCC prefer being referred to as Closed rather than Exclusive brethren to avoid any connection with these more strident groups.
Terminology which sometimes confuses Brethren and non-Brethren alike is the distinction between the Open assemblies, usually called "Chapels," and the Closed assemblies (non-Exclusive), called "Gospel Halls." Contrary to common misconceptions, those traditionally known as the "Closed Brethren" are not a part of the Exclusive Brethren, but are rather a very conservative subset of the Open Brethren. The Gospel Halls regard reception to the assembly as a serious matter. One is not received to the Lord's Supper but to the fellowship of the assembly. This is important because the Lord's Supper is for believers, not unbelievers.
Some Chapels, on the other hand, will allow practically anyone to participate who walks in and says that he is a Christian, based on the newcomer's profession of faith. Such assemblies are said to have an "open table" approach to strangers. Gospel Hall Brethren, on the other hand, generally believe that only those formally recognised as part of that or an equivalent assembly should break bread. Most Closed and some Open Brethren hold that association with evil defiles and that sharing the Communion meal can bring that association.
Their support text is from 1 Corinthians 15:33, "Do not be deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." Among other distinctions, the Gospel Halls would generally not use musical instruments in their services, whereas many Chapels use them and may have singing groups, choirs, "worship teams" of musicians, etc. The Gospel Halls tend to be more conservative in dress; women do not wear trousers in meetings and always have their heads covered, while in most Chapels women may wear whatever they wish, though modesty in dress serves as a guideline, and many may continue the tradition of wearing a head covering.
Apart from a few (mostly small) exceptions, such as the Churches of God, Open Brethren churches are all independent, self-governing, local congregations with no central headquarters, although there are a number of seminaries, missions agencies, and publications that are widely supported by Brethren churches and which help to maintain a high degree of communication among them.
Adding to the confusion over labels, many Exclusive Brethren have more recently sought to distinguish themselves from their most extreme sect, the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, by rebranding themselves as "Closed" rather than "Exclusive".
Both Open and Exclusive Brethren have historically been known as "Plymouth Brethren." That is still largely the case in some areas, such as North America and Northern Ireland. In some other parts of the world such as Australia and New Zealand, most Open Brethren shun the "Plymouth" label. This is mostly because of widespread negative media coverage of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, the most hardline branch of the Exclusive Brethren (and the only numerically significant Exclusive group in either country), which most Open Brethren consider to be a cult with which they do not wish to be misidentified.
One of the most defining elements of the Brethren is the rejection of the concept of clergy. Their view is that all Christians are ordained by God to serve and therefore all are ministers, in keeping with the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. The Brethren embrace the most extensive form of that idea, in that there is no ordained or unordained person or group employed to function as minister(s) or pastors. Brethren assemblies are led by the local church elders within any fellowship.
Historically, there is no office of "pastor" in most Brethren churches, because they believe that the term "pastor" (ποιμην "poimen" in Greek) as it is used in Ephesians 4:11 describes one of the "gifts" given to the church, rather than a specific office. In the words of Darby, these gifts in Ephesians 4:11 are "ministrations for gathering together and for edification established by Christ as Head of the body by means of gifts with which He endows persons as His choice." Therefore, there is no formal ordination process for those who preach, teach, or lead within their meetings. Men who become elders, or those who become deacons and overseers within the fellowship, have been recognized by others within the individual assemblies and have been given the blessing of performing leadership tasks by the elders.
An elder should be able and ready to teach when his assembly sees the "call of God" on his life to assume the office of elder (1 Timothy 3:2). Brethren elders conduct many other duties that would typically be performed by "the clergy" in other Christian groups, including counselling those who have decided to be baptized, performing baptisms, visiting the sick, and giving spiritual counsel in general. Normally, sermons are given either by the elders or by men who regularly attend the Sunday meetings—but, again, only men whom the elders recognize as having the "call of God" on their lives for that particular ministry. Visiting speakers, however, are usually paid their travel costs and provided for with Sunday meals following the meetings.
Open and Exclusive Brethren differ in how they interpret the concept of "no clergy". The Open Brethren believe in a plurality of elders (Acts 14:23; 15:6,23; 20:17; Philippians 1:1), men meeting the Biblical qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:6–9. This position is also taken in some Baptist churches, especially Reformed Baptists, and by the Churches of Christ. It is understood that elders are appointed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28) and are recognised as meeting the qualifications by the assembly and by previously existing elders. Generally, the elders themselves will look out for men who meet the biblical qualifications, and invite them to join them as elders. In some Open assemblies, elders are elected democratically, but this is a fairly recent development and is still relatively uncommon.
Officially naming and recognizing "eldership" is common to Open Brethren (cf. 1Thess 5:12–13), whereas many Exclusive Brethren assemblies believe that recognizing a man as an "elder" is too close to having clergy, and therefore a group of "leading brothers", none of whom has an official title of any kind, attempts to present issues to the entire group for it to decide upon, believing that the whole group must decide, not merely a body of "elders". Traditionally, only men are allowed to speak (and, in some cases, attend) these decision-making meetings, although not all assemblies follow that rule today.
The term "Elder" is based on the same Scriptures that are used to identify "Bishops" and "Overseers" in other Christian circles, and some Exclusive Brethren claim that the system of recognition of elders by the assembly means that the Open Brethren cannot claim full adherence to the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Open Brethren consider, however, that this reveals a mistaken understanding of the priesthood of all believers which, in the Assemblies, has to do with the ability to directly offer worship to God and His Christ at the Lord's Supper, whether silently or audibly, without any human mediator being necessary—which is in accordance with 1Tim 2:5, where it is stated that Christ Jesus Himself is the sole Mediator between God and men ("men" being used here generically of mankind, and not referring simply and solely to "males").
The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, the most hardline of all the Exclusive Brethren groups, has developed into a de facto hierarchical body which operates under the headship of an Elect Vessel, currently Bruce Hales of Australia. Some defectors have accused him and his predecessors of having quasi-papal authority. This development is almost universally considered by other streams of the Plymouth Brethren movement, however, as a radical departure from Brethren principles.
In place of an ordained ministry, an itinerant preacher often receives a "commendation" to the work of preaching and teaching that demonstrates the blessing and support of the assembly of origin. In most English-speaking countries, such preachers have traditionally been called "full-time workers", "labouring brothers", or "on the Lord's work"; in India, they are usually called Evangelists and very often are identified with Evg. in front of their name.
A given assembly may have any number of full-time workers, or none at all. In the last twenty years, many Open Assemblies in Australia and New Zealand, and some elsewhere, have begun calling their full-time workers "pastors", but this is not seen as ordaining clergy and does not connote a transfer of any special spiritual authority. In such assemblies, the pastor is simply one of several elders, and differs from his fellow-elders only in being salaried to serve full-time. Depending on the assembly, he may or may not take a larger share of the responsibility for preaching than his fellow elders.
This list consists of mostly nineteenth-century figures who were associated with the Brethren movement before the 1848 schism. They are the leading historical figures common to both the Open and Exclusive Brethren. Two exceptions are H.A. Ironside and Watchman Nee, twentieth-century preachers who spent time associated with both the Open and Exclusive Brethren. See the respective articles for other more recent figures who have functioned primarily or entirely in either the Open Brethren or Exclusive Brethren.
Anthony Norris Groves (1 February 1795 – 20 May 1853) was an English Protestant missionary and the "father of faith missions". He launched the first Protestant mission to Arabic-speaking Muslims, and settled in Baghdad, now the capital of Iraq, and later in southern India. His ideas influenced a circle of friends who became leaders in the Plymouth Brethren. Among these were JN Darby, JV Parnell (Lord Congleton), and George Müller, who had married Groves' sister Mary.
The significance of Groves lies in his desire to simplify the task of churches and missions by returning to the methods of Christ and his apostles described in the New Testament. As a missionary, his goal was to help indigenous converts form their own churches without dependence on foreign training, authorisation or finance. His ideas eventually found wide acceptance in evangelical circles.Assemblies Jehovah Shammah
The Assemblies Jehovah Shammah are an Evangelical Christian network of churches that originated in India, which is still home to the great majority of them. The Evangelical publication Operation World estimates their numbers, as of 2010, at 310,000 adults and children in 910 assemblies, as their churches are generally known. Other sources estimate upwards of two thousand congregations, with a large presence in the State of Andhra Pradesh. The movement was founded in 1942 by evangelist Bakht Singh, whose theology and ecclesiology were much influenced by the Open Brethren. Although historically distinct from the Indian Brethren movement, which originated from missionary endeavours, the Assemblies Jehovah Shammah have a lot in common with it and are sometimes (but not always) considered a part of the Brethren movement worldwide.Christian Evangelical Church of Romania
The Christian Evangelical Church of Romania (Romanian: Biserica Creştină după Evanghelie) is a Plymouth Brethren Protestant denomination, one of Romania's eighteen officially recognised religious denominations.Edward Cronin
Edward Cronin (born Cork, Ireland, 1 February 1801, died Brixton, 1 February 1882) was a pioneer of homeopathy in England and one of the founders of the Plymouth Brethren movement.Evangelical Church of Romania
The Evangelical Church of Romania (Romanian: Biserica Evanghelică Română), a Protestant denomination, is one of Romania's eighteen officially recognised religious denominations.Exclusive Brethren
The Exclusive Brethren are a subset of the Christian evangelical movement generally described as the Plymouth Brethren. They are distinguished from the Open Brethren from whom they separated in 1848.The Exclusive Brethren are now divided into a number of groups, most of which differ on minor points of doctrine or practice. Perhaps the best-known of these, mainly through media attention, is the Raven-Taylor-Hales group, now known as the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, which maintains the doctrine of uncompromising separation from the world based on their interpretation of 2 Corinthians 6 and 2 Timothy 2, believing that attendance at the Communion Service, the 'Lord's Supper', governs and strictly limits their relationship with others, even other Brethren groups.
These brethren have one fellowship in some nineteen countries — including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Egypt, and Argentina, but they are more numerous in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and North America
where they are referred to just as the Exclusive Brethren or Brethren.Focus Learning Trust
Focus Learning Trust is a registered charity which operates a network of independent schools in the United Kingdom that are affiliated to the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church.
Focus Schools have a non-selective intake of pupils from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church. Focus Learning Trust was first formed in 2003 and has a head office in Warwick, England.Focus School, Stoke-by-Nayland
Focus School (formerly Stoke-by-Nayland Middle School) is an independent school located in Stoke-by-Nayland in the English county of Suffolk.
The school is run by the Focus Learning Trust which runs 37 independent faith schools under the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church.Gospel Hall Assemblies
The Gospel Halls are a group of independent Christian assemblies throughout the world that fellowship with each other through a set of shared Biblical doctrines and practices. Theologically, they are evangelical and dispensational. They are a conservative strand of the Open Brethren movement and tend to only collaborate with other assemblies when there is doctrinal agreement.Christians who meet in Gospel Halls generally hold that a scriptural Christian assembly should avoid the use of a "sectarian" name (the name "Gospel Hall Assemblies" is a Wikipedia designation, and they are often called “Plymouth Brethren” by outsiders, but should not be confused with the yet more conservative branch known as the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church ). They typically describe themselves simply as "Christians" gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus rather than adopting a denominational title, which has been a long-standing practice.Harry A. Ironside
Henry Allen "Harry" Ironside (October 14, 1876 – January 15, 1951) was a Canadian-American Bible teacher, preacher, theologian, pastor, and author who pastored Moody Church in Chicago from 1929 to 1948.Jim Elliot
Philip James Elliot (October 8, 1927 – January 8, 1956) was an evangelical Christian who was one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador.John Haigh
John George Haigh (; 24 July 1909 – 10 August 1949), commonly known as the Acid Bath Murderer, was an English serial killer. He was convicted for the murders of six people, although he claimed to have killed nine. He battered or shot his victims to death and used concentrated sulphuric acid to dispose of their corpses before forging papers so he could sell the victims' possessions and collect substantial sums of money.John Nelson Darby
John Nelson Darby (18 November 1800 – 29 April 1882) was an Anglo-Irish Bible teacher, one of the influential figures among the original Plymouth Brethren and the founder of the Exclusive Brethren. He is considered to be the father of modern Dispensationalism and Futurism. Pre-tribulation rapture theology was popularized extensively in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren, and further popularized in the United States in the early 20th century by the wide circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible.He produced translations of the Bible in German "Elberfelder Bibel", French "Pau" Bible, Dutch New Testament, and English (finished posthumously) based on the Hebrew and Greek texts called The Holy Scriptures: A New Translation from the Original Languages by J. N. Darby. It has furthermore been translated into other languages in whole or part.Kerala Brethren
The Kerala Brethren are a significant subset of the Indian Brethren, who are connected with the Open Brethren movement internationally. In the South Indian State of Kerala, four Syrian Christian (Nasrani) men who came from traditional churches were baptised in 1898, and many of the Kerala Brethren consider this event to have been the start of their movement. Some 600 of the 2,200 Brethren assemblies (as their churches are generally called) in India are located in Kerala.Lay preacher
Lay preacher is a preacher or a religious proclaimer who is not a formally ordained cleric. Lay preaching varies in importance between religions and their sects.
Movements which encourage lay preachership include:
Awakening (Lutheran movement, especially see Hans Nielsen Hauge, Paavo Ruotsalainen, and lay preachers organized by Lars Levi Laestadius)
Methodist local preacher
Lay speaker (United Methodist Church)
Lay reader (Anglican communion)
Lay ecclesial ministry (Catholic), see also Bo Sanchez and Hippolytus GuarinoniusOpen Brethren
The Open Brethren, sometimes called Christian Brethren, are a group of Evangelical Christian churches that arose in the late 1820s as part of the Assembly Movement. They originated in Ireland before spreading throughout the British Isles, and now have an estimated 26,000 assemblies worldwide.
The Open Brethren form independent, autonomous assemblies and the name "Open" is given to them to distinguish them from "Exclusive Brethren," with whom they share historical roots. The division of the Plymouth Brethren into the Open Brethren and Exclusive Brethren took place in 1848. Open Brethren are also commonly known as Plymouth Brethren, especially in North America. Many Open Brethren outside of North America, however, are unwilling to use the Plymouth Brethren designation because it is associated with the Exclusive Brethren, particularly the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, which has often been accused of being a cult and has attracted a considerable degree of unfavourable publicity in the media.
The Brethren are committed to missionary work and hold that the Bible is the first authority in matters of faith and practice. Each assembly (or congregation) is independent of the others in doctrinal matters; yet there is a high degree of communication and cooperation among those who share similar doctrine and practice. Open Brethren assemblies form a continuum, from tight gatherings which extend fellowship only to those who have first left other denominations, to very loose gatherings which receive into fellowship any stranger without question.A building associated with a group of open brethren is usually called a "Gospel Chapel," "Gospel Hall," "Bible Chapel," "Christian Assembly," or other similar term. A sub-set of the Open Brethren are the Gospel Hall Assemblies who tend to be more conservative than their fellow-Brethren in their practices. Theologically, however, they differ very little.P. C. John
P. C. John (1875 — 1943) was an evangelist and Bible teacher from the Indian State of Kerala. Raised among the Saint Thomas Christians, he joined the Plymouth Brethren as an adult, and is regarded today as one of the pioneers of the Kerala Brethren.Roger Youderian
Roger Youderian (January 21, 1924 – January 8, 1956) was an American evangelical Christian missionary to Ecuador who, along with four others, was killed while attempting to evangelize the Huaorani people through efforts known as Operation Auca.Watchman Nee
Watchman Nee, Ni Tuosheng, or Nee T'o-sheng (Chinese: 倪柝聲; pinyin: Ní Tuòshēng; November 4, 1903 – May 30, 1972), was a Chinese church leader and Christian teacher who worked in China during the 20th century. In 1922, he initiated church meetings in Fuzhou that may be considered the beginning of the local churches. During his thirty years of ministry, Nee published many books expounding the Bible. He established churches throughout China and held many conferences to train Bible students and church workers. Following the Communist Revolution, Nee was persecuted and imprisoned for his faith and spent the last twenty years of his life in prison. He was honored by Christopher H. Smith (R–NJ) in the US Congress on July 30, 2009.