Photo Friday: “Greet One Another With a Holy Kiss”

Two men practice the historic Brethren in Christ "holy kiss" during a love feast celebration in Kentucky. (Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives)

Yesterday, we posted a brief reflection on the historic Brethren in Christ practice of feet-washing. This symbolic gesture reflects members’ long-held belief in Christ-like service.

Today’s Photo Friday post highlights another classical Brethren in Christ practice: the holy kiss.

Wittlinger records that the early Brethren in Christ took “seriously and literally” the Scriptures’

several exhortations for believers to greet one another with “a holy kiss” . . . . They employed the saluation as a fraternal greeting and farewell, men with men and women with women, and also practiced it ritualistically on love feast occasions “as a token of filial love and union.”

The image above was taken at just such a love feast, held at the Brethren in Christ mission station in Robinson Ridge, Kentucky, in 1950.

Years before, one member of the church emphasized the important role of this seemingly bizarre ritual within the group’s “church-world” separation:

Let the world have her meaningless forms to herself. A cordial shake of the hand is pledge enough of the friendship of this world. Christian love and affection is [sic] always the same in its nature . . . Christians should recognize one another by the use of the salutation on all occasions. Such a course will keep them under restraint and remind them of their consecration.

For more on the holy kiss, see Carlton O. Wittlinger, Quest for Piety and Obedience (Nappanee, Ind.: Evangel Press, 1978), 70-71.

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