"Anabaptist also called Rebaptizer, member of radical, or left-wing, movement of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. Its most distinctive tenet was adult Baptism" - THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

The Anabaptist movement started on Jan 21, 1525 when Felix Manz held a Bible study group in Zurich, Switzerland to study the issue of infant baptism. After prayer, George Blaurock got up and asked Conrad Grebel to baptize him, Blaurock then baptized the others. In this quiet way, these people were renouncing infant baptism which was condoned by the Catholic Church, starting the formation of the Anabaptist church, and thus the persecution that would follow them for over 2 centuries.

The Anabaptist movement, which started underground, and fought to stay alive for many years splintered as sects of people moved away from each other into hiding. Three main groups of people started from this main event, those being the Amish (led by Jakob Ammon), the Mennonites (led by Menno Simons) and the Hutterites (led by Jacob Hutter). Those three main groups all eventually ended up in America, and there splintered into even more factions and sects and crossovers, including but not limited to Apostolic Christian Church of America, Beachy Amish Mennonite Churches, Bible Fellowship Church, Brethren Church, Brethren in Christ Church, Bruderhof Communities, Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, Church of God in Christ Mennonite, Church of the Brethren, Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Conservative Mennonite Conference, Dunkard Brethren, Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church, Evangelical Mennonite Church, Evangelical United Brethren, Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches, Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, Hutterian Brethren, Mennonite Brethren Church, Missionary Church, Old German Baptist Brethren, Old Order Amish Church, Old Order Mennonite Churches, Old Order River Brethren, Society of Friends (Quakers), United Christian Church, United Zion Church; but this is the history of the Hutterite Brethren.

The Hutterites were a group of Anabaptist refugees from northern Italy/southern Austria, Germany, and Switzerland who settled in Moravia to escape religious persecution from both the Catholics and the Protestants. Jacob Wiederman became their leader in 1528 when the group was in a desperate situation and decided to pool their money and officially started a commune in Moravia. In 1529, Jacob Hutter visited the Moravian commune with a group from northern Italy, and in 1533 the two groups were united under Hutter's leadership and thereby ushered in the Hutterian church. The creed founding their church was written in the few years between Hutter becoming the head of the Moravian commune, and 1536 when, in Innsbruck, Austria, he was burned at the stake for refusing to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ.

Another main leader of the church is Peter Riedeman who wrote Confession of Faith. In his book he outlined four major points that are still used today to define the Hutterite church, those four points are, the belief in adult baptism, separation of church and state, a communistic philosophy of communal wealth, and non-resistance.

By the 16th century there were roughly 15,000 Hutterites in Moravia. Even though there were so many Hutterites, by the 17th century there were only three accepted churches in Europe, the Catholic church, the Lutheran church, and the Reformed church, all of whom taught against the Anabaptist movement. Since the law at the time required that people living in a certain area had to align themselves with the ruler's religion, and Hutterites weren't one of the three acceptable religions, the Hutterite people once more found themselves in peril of persecution. This persecution led the Hutterite people to bounce back and forth between areas that are now known as the Czech Republic, Hungry, and Romania. In every area they moved to, the Hutterites were always welcomed, since they were diligent workers and peaceful; the local government was always happy to have them, it was the emperors who sought to have them removed since they didn’t conform religiously.

The Thirty Years War, which lasted from 1618 to 1648 was a very hard time for the Hutterites in Slovakia. In 1621, the Prince of Transylvania, Bethlen Gabor, a Protestant unwilling to let the Hutterites decline his offer for sanctuary and religious freedom, sent wagons to steal the people away. Those wagons returned with around 200 people, thereby saving the Hutterites from oblivion, since the land in Transylvania proved to be peaceful and fairly untouched by the rest of the war. In the end most of the Hutterites in Europe escaped to Transylvania.

In 1755 under the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, all non-Catholics were displaced from their homes, and moved to out-skirt locations. During this time, Lutherans from Carinthia, Austria helped the Hutterite movement. Since before the Lutherans came, the Jesuits were trying to get the people to leave their faith, and join back in with the Catholic church, instead this group of people from Austria helped strengthen the church and help it survive. Interesting enough, many of the common Hutterite last names are actually names that the Austrian Lutherans brought with them, names like: Gross, Hofer, Kleinsasser, Stahl, Waldner, Wipf, and Wurtz.

In 1874 they finally immigrated (in mass) to the United States, and in 1918 to Canada. Although today there are enclaves that still remain in Eastern Europe and in the USA. Today, most Hutterites are found in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Colombia. In the US they are in North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Washington and Montana. Though there are some sects of Hutterite/Mennonites in Ohio.

There are three main types of Hutterite: Schmiedeleut (sub-sected into the Hutterian Bretheren (led by Elder Jacob Kleinsasser in Crystal Springs, MB) and the Committee Hutterites (led by the committee of elders)), the Dariusleut (led by Elder Martin Walter in Spring Point Colony, AB), and Lehrerleut (Elder John Wipf, Rose Town Colony, SK) The Schmiedeleut subdivided into two groups, the Hutterian Brethren and the Committee Hutterites, in 1992. Schmiedeleut Hutterites are then confined to Manitoba, North and South Dakota, and Minnesota. The Dariusleut and Lehrerleut live in western North America: Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Colombia, Washington, and Montana.

Hutterites do have a dress code, and it is similar to the Amish. The dress code is more pronounced with some groups, i.e. the Lehrerleut and the Dariusleut in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Schmiedeleut Hutterian Brethren's dress code is typically as follows: men wear suspenders, usually black or dark trousers, and any kind of buttoned shirt. Married men traditionally wear a beard. Women wear below-knee-length dresses; younger women and girls wear brighter colored dresses than older women. Women also wear a Kupf-ti'echle or a black, polka-dot-peppered head covering (subject to area since many Hutterite/Mennonite crossovers have the more typically Amish Mennonite head coverings). Girls between the ages of 3 to about 10 wear a mitz which is bonnet-like head covering.

The most traditional of the Hutterites speak a German dialect, actually a Tyrolean dialect, since the Hutterites originated in southern Austria and northern Italy (the area of Tyrol) and Carinthia. In school however, Hutterite children learn the standard German language because all (subject to area) sermons and original religious writings were written in German. Some of the less orthodox Hutterites do not retain this German language tradition, and it seems to be more wide spread in Canada, could this be stigma against Germans because of World War 2?

Hutterites are not totally uncommon in the United States, though they tend to stay in rural areas, and live in areas with high Amish and Mennonite concentrations. Hutterites in the past, not unlike the Amish, didn't allow their children to complete their high school degrees, within the last few years though, that has changed. Now it is not uncommon for a Hutterite child to graduate from high school, and in some cases even college/university.

Hutterites like the Amish do not force their children into the religion, but many choose to join the church because of a sense of belonging and submission to God. Hutterite churches are commonly small, and the music is usually sung without accompaniment.

Coming from an Anabaptist background is fun!

  • http://www.hutterites.org/
  • http://www.anabaptistchurch.org/hutterian_brethren.htm
  • http://www.columbusmennonite.org/otherAnabaptistgroups.htm
  • http://www.iaw.on.ca/~helmut/abbehalt.htm <== Important site

The Behalt is a mural that was painted in a round room that illustrates the Anabaptist movement from the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the VietNam war. for more infromation check out the web site listed above.

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