|With CMU professor John J.
Friesen (back row, far right) are Hutterite students (back row,
from left) Jacqueline Maendel of Fairholme Colony; Josh Waldner,
Sunnyside; James Waldner, Wingham; Jonathan Waldner, Silver
Winds; (front row) Eileen Waldner, Green Acres; Andrea Maendel,
Fairholme; Karen Waldner, Springfield; and Stanley Kleinsasser,
University Helps Hutterites Reconnect With Their
Cummings, Duane. "University Helps Hutterites Reconnect With Their Heritage." Mennonite Weekly Review, 25 March 2002, 1 & 3.
Winnipeg, Manitoba - Manitoba Hutterites are rediscovering their
heritage and a sense of community with help from Canadian Mennonite
CMU is in the second year of a pilot project in cooperation with
the Hutterian Brethren Education Committee. More than 80 pastors,
teachers, young people and others from 35 Hutterite communities
recently spent eight weeks learning "Anabaptist and Hutterite
History and Beliefs" from CMU history professor John J. Friesen.
"To the Hutterites, studying their history is not only an
academic exercise," Friesen said.
"It deeply matters to their faith that they understand the
importance of communal living, why their forbearers chose communal
living, and that communal living and communal sharing is biblically
Eight Hutterite teachers are also taking the course for credit
with letters of permission from Brandon University's Hutterite Education
Program. The for-credit students are writing papers and making class
The course has grown from four weeks to eight since its inception
"The presentations turned out to be a significant aspect of
the course," Friesen said. "These students take responsibility
for organizing some of the material into presentations."
Hutterian Brethren Education Committee president Arnold Hofer,
a minister and teacher at Riverbend Colony near Carberry, said the
course is enriching Hutterite communities.
"This brings a more thorough picture of our history and Theology,"
The Hutterites first connected with Friesen five years ago after
he produced a new English translation of Peter Riedemann's Hutterite
Confession of Faith from the German original. Friesen's translation
is now used in many Hutterite education programs.
Friesen was asked to create a course to help Hutterites better
understand their basic beliefs.
The course follows the two-volume Chronicle of the Hutterian Brethren,
which narrates Anabaptist and Hutterite experiences from the time
of the Reformation to the Hutterites' migration to North America
Hofer is encouraged by participation in the course at a time when
some Hutterites are considering other expressions of faith.
"In the time we live in today, with all the mainline churches,
there is a shift, we feel, on our young people," Hofer said.
"I feel God has given us some insight as a committee to get
on track, to bring to our classes and schools that faith is also
based in communal living."
Despite the growing influences of modern society, Hofer said there
is great interest in preserving the Hutterite experience.
"I see [this course] strengthens many of our teachers and
young people," he said. "Now we need to maintain and keep
establishing the faith our forefathers left behind for us."
Friesen said having the course at CMU strengthens ties between
Mennonites and Hutterites.
"I think it's an opportunity to connect with, serve and learn
from the Hutterite community," Friesen said.
Reprinted with permission of the Mennonite Weekly Review