All Brethren denominations use the ordinance of laying on of hands on three occasions: during anointing, at baptism and/or reception of new members, and when commissioning for service. In the Old and New Testaments, this physical act was one of blessing. It bestowed some gift or expressed a desire that some gift be received. Many times, the laying on of hands symbolized the giving of the Holy Spirit.
It is not clear when and for what purposes the Brethren began the practice, but it was sometimes a hotly disputed issue. Brethren do not believe that their hands have power in themselves as they lay them on another person. The value is symbolic of the giving as well as receiving the Holy Spirit. Those who lay hands are agents of God and represent the imparting of God’s love, blessing, and power.
"The Brethren gift at the end of the 20th century is being able to maintain the bonds of love in the midst of diversity. We think of ourselves as a family and we continue to recall that which binds us to one another. We see beauty in the tapestry of Brethren diversity and identify dominant threads that hold the design together and make it unique." Joan Deeter
For more information about the Church of the Brethren’s beliefs and practices as well as the scriptural basis for the ordinances, visit www.cob-net.org/membership.pdf. You can also visit. www.brethren.org.