Mennonite Handbook of Information
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- 1 Preface
- 2 INTRODUCTION
- 3 CHAPTER I. LIFE AND LABORS OF MENNO SIMONS
- 4 CHAPTER II. MENNONITE CONFESSION OF FAITH
- 5 CHAPTER XX. HISTORICAL OUTLINE OF MENNONITE LITERATURE
The book herewith handed to the Church presents historical data in such form, we believe, as will be of much value to all readers. It is to be hoped that the searcher after facts relating to the rise and progress of the Mennonite Church in America will, in this "Mennonite Hand-book of Information," find much of interest and value which has never before appeared in print.
Here, brief accounts appear of events that happened along the historical thread of more than two hundred sixty years that may. be used by missionaries for general review of the advance and progress of the Church in the past. The committee also designed that such a book should find ready place in our schools as a text-book on purely historical subjects relating to the development of the Mennonite Church and the spiritual progress it has made from generation to generation since its establishment in America.
In this work the efforts of the committee have been expended in a studied presentation of every link in the chain of events leading from its earliest beginnings up to the present day in maintaining the Articles of her Confession of Faith. Such facts should be of great value to any one making inquiry into our faith, doctrine and practices, and particularly so to such as are converted and wish to unite with the Church.
Others desiring to know our doctrines and the scriptural basis on which they are found, should find in this book a storehouse of information that could nowhere else be found outside of the Bible itself. The presentation of the matter found in this work, has placed something of a burden on each member of the committee, and it is believed that the finished product has been worth while, and will be gratefully received by an appreciative public.
- S. F. Coffman
The following leaflet prepared by a committee appointed by the Mennonite General Conference and printed by the Mennonite Publishing House is used as an appropriate Introduction to this book.
Who Are The Mennonites
The believers in Jesus Christ during the first century suffered many persecutions, and because of this severe test, heretics in the Church were few. Later, the Church became an institution of the state, persecution ceased, and religious degeneration resulted. Some, however, never adhered to the State Church, and others left it arid sought the purity of primitive Christianity. These were known by various names Novations, Albigenses, Paulicians, Waldenses, Anabaptists, etc.
The first congregation of the Church now known as Mennonites was organized in 1525 at Zurich, Switzerland, by Conrad Grebel, Felix Mantz, George Blaurock, and others. They called themselves Brethren (Swiss Brethren) but were commonly known as Taeufer. Not recognizing infant baptism as scriptural, they were classed as Anabaptists. They were, however, the first and oldest of the so-called Anabaptist sects. It is therefore incorrect to say that the Mennonites descended from the Anabaptists, or from Anabaptist sects.
The founder of the Mennonite Church in Holland, Obbe Philips, had formerly been an Anabaptist of the Hoffmanite persuasion. Menno Simons was born at Witmarsum, Friesland, a province in the Netherlands, about 1496. Originally a Catholic, he served as a priest from 1524 to 1536. In 1536 he was converted and baptized by Obbe Philips. That same year he was ordained to the ministry and became the most influential representative of the Church in Holland and .North Germany. His writings and those of his faithful co-worker, Dirck Philips, are of great value. At the time of Menno Simon's conversion the Church in Holland was numerically weak, though the Swiss Brethren had numerous congregations in Switzerland, France, South Germany, Tyrol and Moravia. A bitter wave of persecution had swept over these churches and the principal leaders of the Swiss Brethren had suffered a martyr's death, but the attempt to destroy the Church proved a failure.
It was some years after Menno Simons' conversion that the name "Mennonite" was applied to this body of believers in Germany, Poland, and Russia, and later in America; but to the present they are known in Switzerland as Taeufer (or Alt-Taeufer] in France Anabaptists, and in Holland Doopsgezinden,
There is good reason to 'believe that the influence of the Waldenses (one of a number of the older nonresistant sects) was largely responsible for the organization of the first congregation of the Swiss Brethren. The most characteristic and essential points on which they, and later the Mennonites, differed from the leading Protestant churches of the same period was the principle of nonresistance and the doctrine of infant baptism. At that time the laws of the several states and provinces required membership in the state churches. All, except the Anabaptist sects, accepted this demand. The Swiss Breth- ren and Mennonites believed that the Church consists only of those who accept Christ and follow His teachings and are separated from and not identified with the world.
For a number of years a severe persecution of these followers of the Lord prevailed and many were put to death for their faith, but in no country did the persecution of the Mennonites continue so long as in Switzerland. The last martyr was Elder (bishop) Hans Landis, the most prominent minister of the Swiss Brethren in that period, who was beheaded in Zurich, 1614. The persecution, however, continued until well into the eighteenth century. Nowhere else did the Church show such vitality. Many fled from Switzerland to South Germany, France, Holland, and America.
The Mennonite pioneers in America were thirteen families from Crefeld, Germany, who came on the ship Concord in 1683, and settled at Germantown, now a part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the following century many Swiss Mennonites came from South Germany (Palatinate) and France, because of serious oppression, while others came direct from Switzerland. The majority of American Men- nonite churches are of Swiss origin.
Until the beginning of the last century, all Mennonites coming to America settled in eastern Pennsylvania, whence they spread to other states and to Ontario. A large immigration of Russian and Prussian Mennonites to America took place in 1874 and the succeeding years. The Russian Mennonites are mostly of Dutch ancestry, their forefathers of the Reformation period having fled from Holland to Prussia and Poland whence they emigrated to Russia. Yet a number of the Russian Mennonite churches in America are of Swiss origin.
Today Mennonite churches are found in many of the states and in provinces of Canada. The main body of Mennonites comprises fifteen distinct conferences reaching from ocean to ocean, and an organized conference in India. Mennonite Publishing House, located at Scottdale, Pa., takes care of the publishing interests of the Church. The Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities has its headquarters at Elkhart, Ind. Organized mission and charitable work is carried on in many places in the home land, and there are flourishing missions in India and Argentina, S. A. The educational centers of the Church are at Goshen, Ind., Hesston, Kans., and Harrisonburg, Va.
The history of the Mennonite Church is the story of an imperfect attempt to give first place to God and His will, to accept His revelation and precept in its entirety regardless of the cost. Human imperfections will cling to human endeavor, but God and His Word never failed. This was the faith of the martyrs; it is the faith that will bring victory in our day.
CHAPTER I. LIFE AND LABORS OF MENNO SIMONS
This man of God from whom the Mennonite Church takes its name was born at Witmarsum, Holland, located about four miles from the eastern shore of the North Sea. The waves also of the great Zuider Zee roll not far away over a large district of country where, nearly five hundred years ago, seventy villages were overflowed and in which many thousands of people perished.
Menno Simons was born near these shores in the year 1496. His father and mother were members of the Roman Catholic Church. He was educated for the priesthood, and into this office he was installed at the age of twenty-eight years. In time, however, .he came to have some positive convictions of his own; relative to infant baptism, the eucharist partaking of the properties of flesh and blood, and elemental water having the efficacy to wash away sin.
He finally made the Word of God and its plain teachings, rather than the dogmas of Catholicism, his guide to truth. In later years, because of his social and religious prominence among the peaceful Anabaptists and Waldensian believers, these people as a class became known to their friends, and especially to their enemies, as "Mennonites."
Historians inform us that Menno Simons received baptism on confession of faith from Obbe Philip, one of the peace-loving Anabaptist ministers of the Netherlands. This event is said to have occurred Jan. 12, 1536, and that it was sometime during the following year that he was ordained to the ministry by the same person. By this time he was obliged to keep much in seclusion and fled from place to place to escape death from the hands of enemies. A price was put on his head and a written description of his clothing and personal appearance was posted publicly on the church doors.
It seems unbelievable that so great a reformer as Martin Luther should refer to Menno Simons as a hedge-preacher, and one of those sneaking fellows, who associate themselves with laborers in the harvest fields, or the charcoal burners in the woods. This language indicates that Martin Luther never got as far away from the Catholic Church as Menno Simons did. Luther's position was that the Christian should fight for his country when he was called into the defending ranks. Other reformers, like Luther, thought it right to go to war when one's country is invaded, but Menno Simons proclaimed to his hearers that under all circumstances it was wrong for believers to engage in carnal, warfare. He also preached the doctrine of absolute separation between Church and state and upheld the principle that the believer must give to God the things that are God's, and to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.
Menno Simons was the reformer of the reform- ers and thus held them to teaching the "all things" of the Gospel. They failing to teach a whole Gospel, he proved that as reformers in the real sense they were not sincere. In giving up the Catholic faith he declared that he had renounced all worldly honor, and meekly submitted to persecution and the re- proach of those who sought to make life hard for him.
His advance to the point when he could make this solemn declaration was when he was at the age of forty years, and after thirteen years of service had 'been given to the Roman Catholic Church. During the remaining twenty-four years of his life, in all his preaching and writings, we see the foundation principles set forth on which, in the next seventy years after his death, his followers were able to clearly set forth what are today known as the Eighteen Articles of the Mennonite Confession of Faith.
Briefly summed up, the following points appear:
I. God, as the Creator of all Things.
II. The Fall of Man and the Entrance of Sin into the World.
III. Restoration of Man through the Promises of God.
IV. The Coming of Christ into the World.
V. The Gospel Message as given in New Testament Scriptures.
VI. Repentance and the renewed Life in Righteousness.
VII. Holy Baptism for Adults by Pouring.
VIII. The Visible Church of Christ on Earth.
IX. Teachers, Deacons, and Deaconesses Chosen by the Church.
X. Emblems of the Sacrament Bread and Wine. XI. Washing (literally with hands) of the Saint's Feet.
XII. The State of Matrimony and Sign of Wo- man's Place in the Church.
XIII. The Place and Purpose of Civil Authority.
XIV. On Revenge and Carnal Warfare.
XV. On Swearing of Oaths.
XVI. Separation from disobedient members the Church Ban.
XVII. Non-Secrecy and Shunning of the Separated.
XVIII. The Resurrection of the Dead and the last Judg.ment.
Portraits that have appeared in histories of our time represent Menno Simons as wearing" a full beard, the whole scalp being covered by a closely fitting skull-cap like that long worn by the monks and friars of the mediaeval Church. In these por- traits his personal attire shows him to be clothed in flowing robes that when standing reach to his feet.
CHAPTER II. MENNONITE CONFESSION OF FAITH
The first account we have of a Confession of Faith issued by Mennonites was on April 21, 1632, at the time of a peace convention held at Dort in Holland. This was signed by fifty-one ministers and teachers representing sixteen - cities and towns of Holland, Lower Germany, the Palatinate and the upper country of the Rhine Valley in the following order: ' : i
, . DORT
Isaac Koenig Johann Cobryssen Jan Jacobs Jacuis Terwin Claes Dirksen Mels Gysbaerts Adrian Cornells
Balden C. Schumacher Michael Michiels Israel von Halmael Heinrich Apeldoren Andreas Lucken
Herman Segers Jan Heinrich Hochfeld Daniel Horens Abraham Spronk Wilhelm von Brockhuysen
THE UPPER COUNTRY
Peter von Borsel Anton Hans
Dillaert Willeborts Jacob Pennen Lieren Marymehr
MIDDLEBURG Bastian Willemsen Jan Winkelmans
HARLEM John Doom Peter Gryspeer Dirk Wouters Kolenhamp Peter Joosten
SCHIEDAM Cornells Bam Lambrecht Paeldink
CREVELDT Wilhelm Kreynen Herman Op den Graff
GORCUM Jacob von Sebrecht Jan J. von Kruysen
ARNHEIM Cornells Jans Dirk Renderson
AMSTERDAM Tobias Goverts Peter Jansen Mayer Abram Dirks David Ter Haer Peter Jan von Zingel
Wilhelm Jan von Exselt Gispert Spiering of the Netherlands.
This event is said to have occurred Jan. 12, 1536, and that it was sometime during the following year that he was ordained to the ministry by the same person. By this time he was obliged to keep much in seclusion and fled from place to place to escape death from the hands of enemies. A price was put on his head and a written description of his clothing and personal appearance was posted publicly on the church doors.
It seems unbelievable that so great a reformer as Martin Luther should refer to Menno Simons as a hedge-preacher, and one of those sneaking fellows, who associate themselves with laborers in the harvest fields, or the charcoal burners in the woods. This language indicates that Martin Luther never got as far away from the Catholic Church as Menno Simons did. Luther's position was that the Christian should fight for his country when he was called into the defending ranks. Other reformers, like Luther, thought it right to go to war when one's country is invaded, but Menno Simons proclaimed to his hearers that under all circumstances it was wrong for believers to engage in carnal warfare. He also preached the doctrine of absolute separation between Church and state and upheld the principle that the believer must give to God the things that are God's, and to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.
Menno Simons was the reformer of the reformers and thus held them to teaching the "all things" of the Gospel. They failing to teach a whole Gospel, he proved that as reformers in the real sense they were not sincere. In giving up the Catholic faith he declared that he had renounced all worldly honor, and meekly submitted to persecution and the reproach of those who sought to make life hard for him.
His advance to the point when he could make this solemn declaration was when he was at the age of forty years, and after thirteen years of service had been given to the Roman Catholic Church. During the remaining twenty-four years of his life, in all his preaching and writings, we see the foundation principles set forth on which, in the next seventy years after his death, his followers were able to clearly set forth what are today known as the Eighteen Articles of the Mennonite Confession of Faith.
Briefly summed up, the following points appear:
I. God, as the Creator of all Things.
II. The Fall of Man and the Entrance of Sin into the World.
III. Restoration of Man through the Promises of God.
IV. The Coming of Christ into the World.
V. The Gospel Message as given in New Testament Scriptures.
VI. Repentance and the renewed Life in Righteousness.
VI. Holy Baptism for Adults by Pouring.
VIII. The Visible Church of Christ on Earth.
IX. Teachers, Deacons, and Deaconesses Chosen by the Church.
X. Emblems of the Sacrament Bread and Wine.
XI. Washing (literally with hands) of the Saint's Feet.
XII. The State of Matrimony and Sign of Woman's Place in the Church.
XIII. The Place and Purpose of Civil Authority.
XIV. On Revenge and Carnal Warfare.
XV. On Swearing of Oaths.
XVI. Separation from disobedient members the Church Ban.
XVII. Non-Secrecy and Shunning of the Separated.
XVIII. The Resurrection of the Dead and the last Judg.ment.
Portraits that have appeared in histories of our time represent Menno Simons as wearing a full beard, the whole scalp being covered by a closely fitting skull-cap like that long worn by the monks and friars of the mediaeval Church. In these port traits his personal attire shows him to be clothed in flowing robes that when standing reach to his feet.
MENNONITE GENERAL CONFERENCE AND DISTRICT CONFERENCES
The Mennonite General Conference is presumed to be the supreme governing body in the Church and, besides the Mennonite bishops in attendance, is made up of a certain number of delegates accord- ing to the number of congregations and membership in each of the district conferences giving it support.* Though it is the highest court of appeal in the Church, yet it is not within its province to exercise any attitude of direct authority over any district conference, except by the consent of said conference.
Its authority is vested chiefly in the direction and over-sight of all boards and committees repre- sented in the publication, educational, charitable, missionary, and every other spiritual activity of the Church at large; also to serve in an advisory ca- pacity with reference to district conferences. The General Conference has functioned in these various capacities in bienninal sessions since the year 1898.
The district conferences adopt rules and regu- lations for governing the Christian life of individual members as they are affected by local conditions in their various states and districts. Some of these
- The following Mennonite Conferences have thus far with-
held official recognition of the Mennonite General Con- ference: Franconia, Lancaster, Franklin Co., Pa., and Washington Co., Md.
OF INFORMATION 21
district conferences were founded and sessions have been held regularly for more than a hundred years.f This statement holds good particularly with refer- ence to the Franconia, Lancaster, and Ontario con- ferences, while a number of other of later organi- zation have been in regular session for the past fifty to seventy-five years.
The rulings of the district conferences are "the decrees for to. keep," especially in every case where they are based on the great fundamental doctrines of the Bible. Some of these measures are taken to meet certain critical issues in the Church and apply only to the particular time for which they are pro- vided.
The conference rulings appearing at stated times within a generation represent the history-making periods in the Church, while the wording is so framed that through successive generations one is not supposed to conflict with or contradict the other. All have been formulated and delivered from time to time as the needs arose for their adoption.
The following table indicates by conferences all Mennonites who are known to adhere to the old parent body of the Church as it was originally es- tablished in America. This includes such congre- gations and local conferences of the Amish Menno- nites as have merged with local conferences, the General Conferences (or both) in maintaining a com- mon faith and doctrine, and the support of mission- ary effort, publication and educational interests, and general relief work in the whole body of the Church.
t The oldest conference session on record is one held in Eastern Pennsylvania in 1727.
CHAPTER IV GENERAL CHURCH ACTIVITIES
The three leading activities the Church as at present constituted are the missionary, educational, and publication work. The Mennonite Church has an organized Board to look after each of these three lines of service, besides a number of General Com- mittees which we shall notice briefly in this chapter.
MENNONITE BOARD OF MISSIONS & CHARITIES
Looking through the archives of the Mennonite Church of a former generation, mention is made of J. M. Brenneman being the forerunner of evangelism in that body. The first series of meetings held in a Mennonite church in America was at Masontown, Pennsylvania, in 1873, conducted by Daniel Brenne- man (brother of the afore mentioned J, M.) and John F. Funk. But the real pioneer in this work who more than any one else was instrumental in opening up the Church to evangelistic work was John S. Coffman, formerly of Virginia but later of Elkhart, Indiana.
The Mennonite Evangelizing and Benevolent Board was organized at Elkhart, Indiana, in the year 1882. The amount contributed during the first year was twenty-six dollars and thirty-six cents. But the work continued to grow, Evangelistic work became common, and later on mission stations were estab- lished in Chicago and other cities.
The great field opening to missionary effort in
24 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
India moved many Mennonites to lend aid that should in some way be an answer to the call coming from that far-away land. At a mission meeting held at Elkhart, Indiana, Nov. 4, 1898, it was decided to send out missionaries to establish a station some- where in the famine-stricken fields of India. This proved to be an inspirational meeting that brought forth great results.
There were fifteen bishops present who had ar- rived from the General Conference just closed at the Holdeman Church. The Holy Spirit being unmistak- ably manifest, testified; "Separate unto me the two brethren for the work whereunto I have called them."
After a season of profound devotion and prayer, the fifteen bishops laid their hands upon the head and kneeling form of Jacob A. Ressler, who along with his associate, W. B. Page, were duly appointed and consecrated as the first missionaries sent by the Mennonite Church to a foreign field.
These brethren, after visiting among the churches during the remainder of the year, in February follow- ing set sail for their distant field of work. On Nov. 22, 1899, after a period of some months of prospect- ing and study of the general field, a mission station was established at Sundarganj near Dhamtari.* Un- der the fostering care of the Church in America the missionary effort in India has been enlarged and extended to other points, until after twenty-five
- The twenty-fifth anniversary of the beginning of mission-
ary endeavor by Mennonites at Sunderganj as well as in all India, was celebrated Dec. 27 and 28, 1924.
OF INFORMATION 25
years there are a score of workers on the field with a native membership of twelve hundred ninety-three. This body of believers has for a number of years been organized into a conference, in which there are two 'bishops, seven ministers, and seven deacons.
Since the year 1917 missionary effort has been opened in Argentina, South America, where there are now six stations, five ministers with their wives, and a membership of one hundred fifty-six. This body has in recent years been organized into a con- ference.
On May 22, 1906, the Evangelizing and Benevo- lent Board merged with the Mennonite Board of Charitable Homes and Missions, to form the Menno- nite Board of Missions and Charities, and under this last organization, all the mission and charitable in- terests of the Church are now directed and con- trolled.
Under the auspices of this Board, all the mis- sionary activities of the Church became combined under one head. It became the duty of this body that consists of twenty-five charter members, to see that every missionary sent to the home or foreign field is spiritually and physically fit for service, and along with that, to ascertain as far as possible as to whether they are truly and safely grounded on the fundamental doctrines, taught and upheld by the Mennonite Church.
-By its direction and provision, the American Mennonite Mission in India and the Mennonite Mis- sion in Argentina, S. A., are being provided from time to time with workers, teachers, and finances. Along with these two 'important foreign mission
26 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
fields, there are twenty-two mission stations in the home field, ever depending on the General Board, (as well as the district Boards organized in each of our conference districts) for support and encourage- ment. These are nearly all located in the larger cities of the United States and Canada.
MENNONITE BOARD OF EDUCATION
Educational Standing with the Early Mennonites
Among the Mennonites of the first generation of those who reached America, numbers of them had the benefit of good educational training before they left the Fatherland. This fact is verified by the kind of books they brought with them and carefully read when reaching this country. The ability to produce others after their arrival here is another evidence of their educational refinement and culture.
Wherever the pioneer located, originally in Pennsylvania and later in Maryland, Virginia and Canada, his books seem never to have been left be- hind, but were carried with him to whatever nook and corner of the New World he journeyed to find a home. Among these were usually the large quarto size Family Bible, the works of Dirck Philips, the large and comprehensive Martyr Book by Van Braght, Menno Simons' works, with also Psalm books, prayer books, and hymn books by different authors.
Children were taught to spell and later to read and write by the use of a speller and reading book combined. The German letters were first learned, both in print and script form. From these the slow
OF INFORMATION 27
process of learning 1 the letters, then to spell words, and still later to read and write in both forms became one of the accomplishments of childhood in every Mennonite home. In the early days silent reading was not generally the custom, but the rule was for some member of the home to read aloud for the entertainment of the others. The instrument used in writing was the common goose quill pen that was dipped in yellowish black ink made from charcoal or the well known ink-ball of those times that grew on the outer branches of the black oak.
At a very early period the calendar Almanac found a ready place in every pioneer home. There were also medical hand-books teaching how to treat diseases both in man and beast, while there were extant among many German leaders of those times copies of the One Hundred Years Planetary Almanac. With these some English publications were in circulation, such as Capt. John Smith's history of Virginia, issued in 1624, Missionary John Eliot's translation of the Bible into the Indian language in 1663, the New England Primer with Mather's Cate- chism first printed in 1690, with also the Boston News Letter, the first newspaper printed in America, and which first appeared in 1711. The Virginia Gazette, made its first appearance in 1736, and last but not least, there was Dr. Benjamin Frank- lin's "Poor Richard's Almanack," first published at Philadelphia in 1732, and of which its circu- lation in the American colonies was ten thousand copies annually. In this almanac the month of 1 March was called "First Month," and marked the beginning of each year, while February was num-
28 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
bered as "Twelfth Month/' and was the last bf the year.
Before and up to this time all paper used in America for printing books and newspapers had been manufactured in Europe.
The significant item in the history of the Ameri- can colonies appeared in the fact that the first paper mill operated in the New World was erected in the year 1690 at Germantown, Pennsylvania, by Wilhelm Rittenhuysen, a member and first minister in the Mennonite Church in America.
Toward the latter part of the nineteenth century a very pronounced sentiment developed among the Mennonite people in favor of establishing church schools for the benefit of such young people as desired a higher education. In 1895 the Elkhart Institute Association was formed at Elkhart, Indiana, and a suitable building was erected known as Elkhart Institute. This organization continued in existence for ten years, when it disbanded volun- tarily and the property passed into the hands of the Mennonite Board of Education. In the mean- time the Elkhart Institute was sold and a new insti- tution built up at Goshen, Indiana, which has since been known as Goshen College.
The Mennonite Board of Education is composed of representatives from each of the Mennonite dis- trict conferences, three appointed by Mennonite Gen- eral Conference, and several members at large elec- ted by the Board itself. It meets annually, at some centrally located place. At the present time two
OF INFORMATION 29
educational institutions are being conducted under the auspices of this Board: Goshen College and Hess.ton College and Bible School. The latter insti- tution is located at Hesston, Kansas, and was found- ed in 1909.
The. Eastern Mennonite School, located at Harri^ sonburg, Virginia, and established in 1916, is under a separate Board but co-operates very closely with the other two church schools.
It is the purpose of the Mennonite Board of Education to oversee and direct trie operation of the schools sponsored by the Church, along such lines as may be considered beneficial to the Church, es- pecially her young people.
MENNONITE PUBLICATION BOARD
The publication of books and other reading mat- ter took form at a very early period in the history of the Church. At such time the work was usually carried on by certain brethren who assumed all re- sponsibility of publication. Others began work with or without the sanction of the Church, but received its support to a greater or less degree.
The M'ennonite Publication Board was sponsored and recognized by the Church in general at the time of its organization in April, 1908, at which time also the Publishing House was located at Scottdale, Pennsylvania. Including basement, the four story fire-proof building, with dimensions of 80x110 feet, was erected in 1921 at an initial cost of $125,000,. and was dedicated April 4, 1922.
Of the eighty-six different books written by Mennonite authors since our people are located in
30 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
America, along with the fourteen periodicals that have been launched since then, all have been issued directly or indirectly on religious subjects. Some include in their makeup moral, educational, historical, and scientific subjects, but behind all appears the setting of worship and praise to the God of the Uni- verse.
To a disinterested observer it appears remark- able that the dominating spirit in all Mennonite lit- erature tends to deal with the serious, grave, and weighty things of life. With such a field of litera- ture, which it can rightfully claim as its own, the Church as a denomination finds its mainstay and support for preventing the drift in the direction of the whirlpool of worldliness that has become so marked a feature with other denominations which have wandered far away from the principles of faith set forth by their founders, and which were once so vigorously upheld by their early adherents.
The Mennonite Publication Board is composed of one representative of each of the Mennonite con- ference districts in America, three members appoint- ed by the Mennonite General Conference, together with the General Manager and Secretary-Treasurer of the Mennonite Publishing House. Its mission is to keep the Church supplied with a full line of Church, Sunday school, and missionary literature, through the ministry of literature to strengthen every home and foster every enterprise undertaken by the Church.
Mennonite Book and Tract Society
This institution of the Church was organized in
OF INFORMATION 31
May, 1889, with John S. Coffman President, David Burkholder Vice President, M. S. Steiner Secretary, and G. L. Bender Treasurer. A number of field members were also appointed, among whom were John W. Weaver, A. D. Wenger, A. D. Martin, and John Blosser.
The object of this institution was to furnish books to ministers at cost, and also to establish a iund for the printing of tracts and their free distri- bution. Under the auspices of this association, be- .sides over six-hundred tracts that, under as many different titles, have been printed by hundreds and by thousands and distributed promiscuously by mis- sion workers in public gatherings, in the streets of cities, towns and villages of the country; books un- der various historical and religious titles, with fifty to a hundred page pamphlets have been issued and sold at a minimum cost to ministers, missionaries, mission workers and other religious circles through- out the country.
At the time of the organization of the Mennonite Publication Board, the Mennonite Book and Tract Society was taken over by that organization and merged with the work of the Mennonite Publishing House.
A Church with such deep historical setting in the earlier period of the great Reformation that con- vulsed all Europe, together with the written accounts of its many leaders and writers, and its extended!
32 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
literary scope, should be able to collect and maintain a large and very valuable library. It is a matter of regret that this work has so long been neglected. Much valuable material has been permitted to be lost. In other countries, notably in Holland, the collection of important source material was be- gun many generations ago. The archives .of the Mennonites of that country contain treasures which are of incalculable value.
A large collection of books, pamphlets, manu- scripts, etc., has already been obtained by donation and purchase of works that were published in Europe and in America. Of the best and largest three col- lections of Mennonite literature in America the Mennonite Publishing House has recently acquired by purchase one of the three, a long time the prop- erty of Bro. John F. Funk, Elkhart, Indiana.
A Library Fund has been authorized with a view of securing books and manuscripts essential to the study of Menonite history. The Library is located in the fireproof building of the Mennonite Publishing House, Scottdale, Pa.
It is the duty of the Historical Committee to collect all material bearing on the history of the Church past ' and present, for preservation in the archives of the Church. Brother John Horsch, as the custodian of the library, deserves special credit for both the collection and care of the books and manuscripts now in hand.
'General Sunday School Committee
This committee was organized in the year 1917 tinder the .direction, of General. Conference. The
OF INFORMATION 33
chief purpose in maintaining' such a committee was for creating unanimity of thought throughout the Church in providing the Lesson Quarterlies for the Sunday schools from year to year.
The duty of this committee is to have the gener- al oversight of and to direct the activities of the Sunday schools throughout the Church. In the mat- ter of providing Sunday school literature, this com- mittee co-operates with the Mennonite Publishing Committee of the Publication Board.
Mennonite Hymns and Music Committee
The Mennonite Church has the reputation of be- ing (perhaps) one of the finest singing denomina- tions in America. Having always discarded choir singing and the use of musical instruments in public worship, the selections of hymns used are invariably of the kind for bringing out a full volume of voices from a congregation. Its song leaders,, even from the early days have been numerous, and their leadership seldom failed to inspire whole congregations to sing only sacred music that was of the highest standard.
Ever since its organization the General Con- ference has recognized a standing Music and Hymns Committee which has performed the service of choosing and classifying the best hymns in English literature, and adapting to them the highest grade of sacred music. From time to time they have com- piled new standard works for the Church.
The first committee on Hymns and Tunes was composed of Noah Stauffer, M. S. Steiner, and J. P. Smucker, appointed at first General Conference held at Wakarusa, Indiana, in 1898. At the second Gener-
34 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
al Conference held at Sterling, 111., the following Hymns' Committee was appointed: J. S. Shoemaker, D. D. Miller, and E. S. Hallman. At the General Conference held at West Liberty, Ohio, Oct. 27-29, 1909, the following were appointed as a standing Music Committee: J. D. Brtmk, C. Z. Yoder, S. F. Coffman, J. B, Smith, and S. S. Yoder.
An Advisory Dress Committee
For the purpose of promoting the cause of scrip- tural attire, the Mennonite General Conference ap- pointed an advisory dress committee whose duty it was to study the problem from various angles and bring reports before this body from time to time. This committee was kept at work for about ten years and was finally dismissed upon completion of its work. During this time it submitted four re- ports to General Conference, and prepared several instructive tracts. Its most important service was the compiling of interesting facts and data which were published in book form under the title, "Dress."
Young People's Topics Committee
Young people's meetings have become an es- tablished institution of the Church. To properly direct this line of activities and to prepare suitable topics for discussion, the Mennonite General Con- ference saw it wise to appoint a committee of five to take charge of this work. This committee meets annually to prepare a list of topics for the follow- ing year and submits its work to the Mennonite Publishing Committee for final approval.
HOW MENNONITES ARE CONFRONTING THE MENACE OF MODERNISM
The wave of Modernism which has engulfed so many churches and institutions of learning has not failed to leave its impress upon certain classes in the Mennonite Church.
Twenty years ago, or more, it began to be evi- dent that there were certain educational leaders, then members of the Mennonite Church, who had imbibed the idea that our doctrinal creed and methods of government had* become obsolete and out of date to such a degree that the entire fabric needed re- construction.
This species of heterodoxy was for years im- pressed upon students, and it became evident that some of them were imbibing the corroding and dead- ly influences of socalled higher criticism. That further inroads upon our young people's faith and life might be prevented, the Mennonite Board of Education became more alert, adopted more drastic measures, until the official roster arid faculty of Goshen College was reformed to conform more near-. ly to the standards of the Church.
Meanwhile the fundamentals of the Christian faith and the dangers from modern liberalism were ably discussed in our church papers, in Bible con- ferences, from the pulpit, and in a number of books written on these subjects. Among these publica-
36 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
tions may be named such books as "Fallacies of Evolution," by J. D. Charles; "The Conservative Viewpoint" and "The Mennonite Church and Cur- rent Issues,"/ by Daniel Kauffman; and "Modern Religious Liberalism" and "The Mennonite Church and Modernism," by John Horsch. These books were put in circulation throughout the Church.
The Mennonite General Conference likewise put itself on record by a carefully prepared statement on Christian Fundamentals. While some had gotten the idea that these articles of faith were adopted to supplant the eighteen articles of faith adopted at Dortrecht, Holland, in 1632, that was entirely foreign to the aims of our General Conference, as the state- ment of Fundamentals which we herewith submit was intended to cover an entirely different field. The paper adopted at Dort is still the recognized Confession of Faith in the Mennonite Church. Fol- lowing is the Statement:
(Adopted by Mennonite General Conference
August 25, 1921)
ARTICLES OF FAITH
In order to safeguard our people from the inroads of false doctrines which assail the Word of God and threaten the foundation of our faith, we, the Mennonite General Con- ference, in regular session assembled at the Sycamore Grove Church near Garden City, Missouri, August 25th, 1921, herewith make the following declaration regarding the funda- mental doctrines of our faith:
ARTICLE I. Of the Word of God
We believe in the plenary and verbal inspiration of the Bible as the Word of God; that it is authentic in its matter, authoritative in its counsels, inerrant in the original writings,
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and the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Ex. 4:12; II Sam. 23:2; Ps. 12:6; 119:160; Jer. 1:9; Matt. 5:18; 24:35; II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:20,21.
ARTICLE II. Of the Existence and Nature of God
We believe that there is but one God, eternal, infinite, perfect, and unchangeable, Who exists and reveals Himself in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Deut. 6:4; Psa. 90:2; Gen. 17:1; Ps. 147:5; 139:7-12; Isa. 40:28; 57:15; Mai. 3:6; Gen. 1:2,18; Heb. 1:8.
ARTICLE III. OF the Creation
We believe -that the Genesis account of the Creation is a historic fact and literally true. Gen. 1:1,21,27; Ex. 20:11; M.k. 10:6-9; Heb. 11:3; Heb. 1:10; 4:4.
ARTICLE IV. Of the Fall of Man
We believe that man was created by an immediate act of God, in His own image and after His likeness; that by one act of disobedience he became sinful in his nature, spiritually dead, subject to physical death and to the power of the devil, from which fallen condition he was unable to save himself. Gen. 1:26,27; 2:7,16,17; Eph. 2:1-3,12; John 6:44; Rom. 5:6.
ARTICLE V. Of Jesus Christ
We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin the perfect God-man; that He was without sin, the divinely appointed substitute and representative of sinful man, paying the penalty for man's sins by His death on the cross, making the only adequate atonement for sin by the shedding of His blood, thus reconciling man to God; that He was raised from the dead, ascended to glory, and "ever liveth to make intercession for us." John 1:1,14,18; Heb. 1:8; 13:8; Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14; Lu. 1:35; Matt. 1:20-25; Isa. 53:5,6; II Cor. 5:14,21; Gal. 3:13; I Pet. 2:22,24; 3:18; Rom. 5:8-10; Matt. 28:6; Acts 3:24; 10:39-41; 17:31; I Cor. 15:20; Acts 1:11; Eph. 1:19,20; Rev. 1:18; Col. 3:1; Heb. 6:20;. I Jno. 2:1,2; Heb. 7:25.
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ARTICLE VI. Of Salvation
We believe that man is saved alone by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ; that he is justified from, all things on the ground of His shed blood; that through the new birth he becomes a child of God, partaker of eternal life and blessed with all spiritual blessings in. Christ. Eph, 2:8; Rom. 3:20-26; Acts 13:38,39; Jno. 1:12,13; 3:4,8,16; 5:24; Eph. 1:3.
ARTICLE VII. Of the Holy Spirit
We believe in the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit: that He convinces the world of Sin, of righteousness and of judgment; that He indwells and comforts the be- liever, guides him into all truth, empowers for service and enables him to live a life of righteousness. Acts 5:3,4; II Cor. 3:3,17; Jno. 16:7,8,13; I Cor. 3:16; Gal. 4:6; Acts 1:8; Rom. 8:1-4.
ARTICLE VIII. Of Assurance
We believe that is is the privilege of all believers to know that they have passed from death unto life; that God is able to keep them from falling, but that the obedience of faith is essential to the maintenance of one's salvation and growth in grace. I Jno. 3:14; 5:13; Rom. 8:16; LI Cor. 12:9; Jude 24,25; Rom. 16:25,26; 1:5; Gal. 3:11; Jno. 8:31,32; II Pet. 1:5-11.
ARTICLE IX. Of the Church
We believe that the Church 'is the body of Christ, com- posed of all those who, through repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, have been born again and were baptized by one Spirit into one body, and that it is her divinely appointed mission to preach the Gospel to every creature, teaching obedience to all His command- ments. Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:23; Col. 1:18; Acts 20:21; Luke 24:47; Acts 17:30; 16:31; Gal. 3:26; I Cor. 12:13; Matt. 28:19; 20; Mk. 16:15; AcU 1:8.
ARTICLE X. Of Separation
We believe that we are called with a holy calling to a life of separation from the world and its follies, sinful prac-
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tices and methods; further that it is the duty of the Church to keep herself aloof from all movements which seek the reformation of society, independent of the merits of the death of Christ and the experience of the new birth. I Pet. 2:9; Tit. 2:11-14; II Cor. 6:14-18; Rom, 12:1,2; Eph. 5:11; I Jno. 2:15-17; II Thes. 3:6; Acts 4:12; Jno. 3:3,6,7.
ARTICLE XL Of Discipline
We believe that the Lord has vested the Church with authority in accordance with Scriptural teaching: (1) to choose officials, (2) to regulate the observance of ordinances, (3) to exercise wholesome discipline, and (4) to organize and conduct her work in a manner consistent with her high call- ing and essential to her highest efficiency. Acts 6:1-6; 13:1-3; II Tim. 2:2; Tit. 1:5-9; 2:15; Matt. 28:19,20; 18:15-18; Eph. 4:11-16; Heb. 13:17; Acts 14:21-23; 2:15.
ARTICLE XII. Of Ordinances
We believe that Christian baptism should be adminis- tered upon confession of faith; tha*t the Lord's Supper should be observed as a memorial of His death by those of like precious faith who have peace with God; that feetwashing as an ordinance should be literally observed by all believers; that Christian women praying or prophesying should have their heads covered; that the salutation of the holy kiss should be duly and appropriately observed by all believers; that anointing with oil should be administered to the sick who call for it in faith; that marriage between one man and one woman is a divine institution dissoluble only by death, that on the part of a Christian it should be "only in the Lord," and that consistency requires that the marriage re- lation be entered only by those of like precious faith. Acts 2:38; 8:12; 18:8; Luke 22:19,20; I Cor. 11: 23-28; John 13:1- 7; I Cor. 11:2-16; 16:20; Jas. 5:14-16; Mk. 10:6-12; Rom. 7:2; I Cor. 7:39; Amos 3:3.
ARTICLE XIII. Of Restrictions
We believe that all Christians should honor, pray for, pay tribute to, and obey in all things those who are in authority in state and nation, provided however, that should
40 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
instances arise in which such obedience would violate the higher law of God, "we ought to obey God rather than man," that Church and State are separate, and while believers are to be subject to, they are not a part of the civil, adminis- trative powers; that it is contrary to the teachings of Christ and the apostles to engage in carnal warfare; that Christians should "adorn themselves in modest apparel, not with broid- ered hair or gold or pearls or costly array;" that the swear- ing of oaths is forbidden in the New Testament Scriptures; that secret orders are antagonistic to the tenor and spirit of the Gospel; and that life insurance is inconsistent with filial trust in the providence and care of our heavenly Father. I Pet. 2:13,14,17; Rom. 13:1-7; I Tim. 2:1,2; Acts 5:29; Matt. 22:21; Mk. 10:42-44; Jno. 18:36; II Cor. 10:4; I Tim. 2:9,10; I Pet. 3:3-5; Matt. 5:34-37; Jas. 5:12; Jno. 18:20; Eph. 5:11,12; I Jno. 3:17; Gal. 6:10; Jer. 49:11; Eph. 1:22,23.
ARTICLE XIV. Of Apostasy
We believe that the latter days will be characterized by general lawlessness and departure from the faith; that on the part of the world "iniquity shall abound" and "evil men shall wax worse and worse;" that on the part of the Church there will be a falling away and "the love of many shall wax cold;" that false teachers shall abound, both deceiving and being deceived; and further, that present conditions indicate that we are now living in these perilous times. j[ Tim. 4:1,2; Rom. 16:17, 18; II Tim. 3:1-5,13; II Pet. 2:1, 2, 10; Matt. 24:11, 12; II Thes. 2:3.
ARTICLE XV. Of the Resurrection We believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the bodily resurrection of all men, both of the just and the unjust of the just to the resurrection of life, and of the unjust to the resurrection of condemnation. Jno. 20:20,24-29; Luke 24:30,31; I Cor. 15:42-44; Acts 24:15; Jno. 5:28,29; I Cor. 15:20-23.
ARTICLE XVI. Of th Coming of Christ
We believe in the personal, imminent coming of our Lord as the blessed hope of the believer, that we who are
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alive and remain, together with the dead in Christ, who will first be raised, shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and thus ever be with the Lord. Jno. 14:2,3; Acts 1:11; Matt. 24:44; Heb. 10:37; Tit. 2:11-13; I Thes. 4:13-18.
ARTICLE XVIL Of the Intermediate State
We believe that in the interval between death and resur- rection, the righteous will be with Christ in a state of con- scious bliss and comfort, but that the wicked will be in a place of torment, in a state of conscious suffering and de- spair. Lu. 16:19-31; 23:43; Phil. 1:23; II Cor. 5:1-8; I Thes. 5:10; II Pet. 2:9 (R. V.).
ARTICLE XVIII. Of the Final State
We believe that hell is the place of torment, prepared for the devil and his angels, where with them the wicked will suffer the vengeance of eternal fire forever and ever and that heaven is the final abode of the righteous, where they will dwell in the fullness of joy forever and ever. Matt. 25:41,46; Jude 7; Rev. 14:8-11; 20:10,15; II Cor. 5:21; Rev. 21:3-8; 22:1-5.
A SKETCH OF VERY EARLY MENNO- NITE HISTORY
From beyond the cognizance of human history North America has been occupied by the copper- colored race, who, as a people, have been recognized by the earliest discoverers and explorers as Indians, supposing that the new found lands they occupied, was India, a portion of the eastern extremity of Asia.
It was not until Balboa had discovered the Pa- cific Ocean in 1613 or until Magellan had circum- navigated the globe in 1621 that the truth dawned upon the inhabitants of Europe that the aborigines found here by white men, occupied an entirely new continent that became known to them as The New World, and later took the name of one of the ex- plorers of its shores America.
The new country, in time received settlements along its eastern borders by at least three distinct classes of people; adventurers, .treasure hunters, and religious outcasts from Europe. Of these, four dis- tinct nationalities, with their marked differences in language, customs and general habits in life, were represented Spanish, English, French, and Ger- man or Dutch. With the latter class, with which some Swiss colonists were included, were the Menno- nites, who located principally in Pennsylvania, but
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in smaller numbers in the adjoining states of New York, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
It is not definitely known when and where the first Mennonites set foot on the shores of America, but it appears that with the invasion of the Dutch settlements at New Amsterdam, now New York, in 1664, there had for some years previous been located with them a community of Mennonites. After the occupation of New Amsterdam by the English, these people crossed over to the Long Island side in search of homes where they would not come in direct contact with their new English neighbors.
The place they selected for their home was at Gravesend, several miles out from the Brooklyn shore, by the forks of a stream flowing southward into the lower portion of New York Bay. As at Germantown, Pa., some twenty years later, the col- ony at Gravesend consisted of both Quakers and Mennonites who conducted public worship together by the men taking .turns to read from the Scriptures on Sabbath days. This became necessary because it appears that at no time a minister had been provided for the colony.
The place, like Germantown, has the historical distinction of having been the scene of a battle ground during the period of the Revolutionary War. Both the name of the place as well as the settlement itself, is now included within the Borough of Brook- lyn and hence there is little if anything left to show where possibly was located the earliest Mennonite community in America.
CHAPTER VII THE PLOCKHOY COLONY IN DELAWARE
The story of locating a colony of Waldensian and Mennonite people in the southern part of the state of Delaware suggests to the reader an interest if not an awakening in him to feelings of sympathy and compassion, equal to those held for the French settlers who were expelled to the number of seven thousand souls from their homes in Acadia on the eastern shores of Canada, and who were distributed in the British colonies along the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to Louisiana.
Historians are. able to find scanty and only dis- connected accounts of the very early settlements that were made by Mennonites in Delaware. It is stated that in the year 1656, three hundred Wal- densians located on the Horekill Inlet. The name is applied to the long estuary extending from Lewes Cape for five miles in a southeasterly direction to the town of Lewes, a place of 2,000 population today. Others think the name Horekill Inlet is the mouth of the stream, now marked on modern maps as Broad- hill Creek.
It is also mentioned that as early as 1663, one Cornelius Plockhoy, himself a Mennonite from Am- sterdam, Holland, established a settlement here with forty-one of his followers. This colony had not been established for much over twelve months before English vessels arrived, and finding that the resi-
OF INFORMATION 45
dents were of Dutch nationality, the place was plun- dered and the colonists deported to English settle- ments in other states, and thus meeting the same fate as the Acadians, when households were broken up and members of families scattered to regions unknown to each other.
Plockhoy and his wife were the only survivors of this settlement that were definitely heard from. After some years of wanden igs, in 1694, after both had become old and depenient, they reached the community at Germantown, Pa., where they were provided for and rendered comfortable during the remainder of their lives.
The fact that people of Dutch nationality settled in Virginia as early as the year 1669 suggests the strong probability that these were members of the original colony in the state of Delaware. Further evidence in proof of this being the case appears in some maps issued as early as 1687, while correspon- dence in possession of Dr. Julius F. Sachse of Phil- adelphia indicates that German settlements were lo- cated on the headwaters of the Rappahannock river and that the place is marked on the map as "Teutsche Staat."
It is shown also that this place was visited oc- casionally by Mennonites from Pennsylvania and that the settlement was augmented in number by families from that state who came here to secure land claims for permanent residence.
Robert Beverly, one of the early Virginian his- torians, relates that this settlement was located in full view of "The Blue Mountains," and that the people who resided there were thrifty and happy,
46 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
and that they planted orchards and vineyards on their premises.
Some years ago the writer visited this locality and found that almost every possible trace of the community had disappeared. Where once were long lines of residences, stores, taverns, and mills there is nothing left but a few old wells, some broken down walls, and embankments to mark the spot. Cherry trees now grow wild in the woods that have overgrown the place, while the growth and size of the timber would indicate that the place has been abandoned for more than a hundred years.
GERMANTOWN THE FIRST PERMANENT MENNONITE COLONY
The first colony of Mennonites in America to stand the test of permanency was established at Germantown', Pennsylvania, late in the year 1683. Of the first arrivals there were thirteen men and their families, making a total of thirty-three persons. These all boarded ship at Rotterdam, the principal seaport of the Netherlands. After a ten weeks voy- age, taking final passage from London, England, they arrived at Philadelphia October 6, 1683. One of their number died during passage, two children were born while the vessel was at sea.
Their first habitations at Germantown were in the form of either rude log dwellings with cellars, or dugouts and caves without dwellings. The first minister and bishop who served the Mennonite Church in America was Wilhelm Rittenhuysen, and the first period of worship known to have been held was conducted at the home of Dennis Kunders, where all of the original thirteen families are said to have assembled. Jans Neus is mentioned as the first deacon to serve the Church in America. The first baptismal service known to have been held here was on Sunday May 9, 1708, and the first re- corded communion meeting was held May 23, 1708.
Within the first year after the establishment of the colony, the first death occurred, the mother of
48 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
the three Opdengraff brothers. The first Mennonite meeting house in America was built at Germantown of logs in the year 1708. The same building was also used as a schoolhouse. It was here that the first Mennonite school teacher taught the children to read and write and to conduct themselves after the order of Christian etiquette.
The deed for the ground on which the meeting house was erected bears date of Sept. 6, 1714, and was given by Henry Seller. The names of other ministers who served the Church during the early days were Jacob Funk, Andrew Zeigler, and John Minnich. Andrew Zeigler in later years became bishop, and it is probable that it was in his time that the second recorded communion service was conducted at Germantown, at which time it is known that there were forty-seven members belonging to the congregation. The following list, taken from the Family Almanac of 1875, printed at Elkhart, Ind,, by John F. Funk and Brother, are names of those who were present at this communion.
Jacob Funk and Ann his wife
Jacob Knorr and Hannah his wife
Abram Kolb and Ann his wife
John Funk and Catharine his wife
Joseph Schreiber and Mary his wife
Andreas Merewine and Ann his wife
Isaac Kulp Jr.
Susanna Nice (Granny) ; ;
Barbara Kolp ".'.,
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Teeny Engle Barbara Kolp Jr. Keteurah Benner Elizabeth Funk Barbara Funk (Widow) Catharine Funk Ann Funk
The following names are members of this con- gregation that are recorded as having been absent from this communion.
Margaret Smith Margaret Rittenhouse
Susanna Knorr John Keyser
Jacob Kolb Elizabeth Keyser
Anna Bennr Dillman Kolb
Hester Funk Hannes Schneider
David Getter Isaac Benner
John Minnich Abram Benner. John Rife
CHAPTER IX THE STORY OF RUDOLPH CRONAU
The great forward movement of German emi- gration to America by way of the sea-ports of Phil- adelphia and New York, the story of such as landed at the latter place has long been very meager in the details, until we have the account related by Rudolph Cronau. It is related by him that all emigrants who took ship for New York were Palatinates from the Rhine valley, and that among them were people of different religious faith including, as is subsequent- ly shown, numbers of whom were Mennonites who, after enduring great distress and privation in New York, a remnant finally joined company with their brethren in settlements in Pennsylvania. The fol- lowing extracts written by Cronau and published in 1901 at Boppard am Rhine by Otto Maisel, are here presented in an English translation made by Dr. John W. Wayland in 1907 while at the Univer- sity of Virginia:
"It was in the spring of 1709 that the Rhine became the theater of one of the most extraordinary events. All floating craft in the shape of rafts, skiffs, boats, and other vessels went gliding down the beautiful stream, all laden with unfortunate people who with their bundles, boxes, and chests were carrying with them the few things they still possessed. These emigrants took ship in Holland, passed over from there to England, where they tarried at London, to obtain from the English government a passage to North America.
"Here there were soon assembled from 13,000 to 14,000
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Palatinates. It was found that the government did not have ships enough to transport so great a multitude, when by the beginning of winter, the miseries of the waiting multitude became constantly greater, which in consequence caused the death of about a thousand persons. Under such circumstances some remedy for the state of affairs had to be provided.
"With this arrangement several thousand of the un- fortunates were shipped back to Holland and Germany. Some three thousand eight hundred were taken over to Ireland to aid in the weaving industry there. Six hundred were sent to the Carolinas, while over three thousand took ship for New York. But two thousand, two hundred and twenty seven of these reached their destination on the Hudson, for four hundred and seventy persons died of ship- fever during the voyage. Two hundred and fifty more .perished on Governor's Island where they had been detained for several weeks in bad lodgings under the suspicion that they were taken with contagious disease.
"When finally this frightful quarantine was lifted, these Palatinate survivors were led to hope that their worst diffi- culties were overcome. Following their release they lo- cated in two camps near the Hudson river not so far away from the Catskill mountains, in the state of New York, where for some time they passed a most wretched existence.
"With the slender hope held out to them to obtain re- lief, they determined to take advantage of an offer made them by some Indian chiefs from the Valley of the Scho- harie. In March of the year 1713 they set out on their journey thither, which on account of the difficulties of the route required fourteen days of travel. This was rendered most difficult because they had no draft animals and no wagons to transport the baggage, the women, the children, and the sick. All property had to be carried by hand or on the back, while in the meantime far and wide there lay a deep snow over the country. When finally the poor wanderers reached the beautiful Schoharie, they had noth- ing to live on, and they would in all probability have starved, had not the Indians taken pity on them and provided them
52 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
with game until the disappearance of the snow and the coming of spring.
"Possibly no settlement of pioneers in America was begun under greater distress of circumstances. There were no plows or other farming implements. Houses were built of rough unhewn tree trunks, and clothing was made from skins of animals killed for them by the Indians. In this way the poor creatures dragged along till the following autumn, when the meager corn crop afforded some relief. Even this had to be beaten on stones in order to be pre- pared in any way for food.
"By the close of the year 1714, it developed that they could not hold their land on the Schoharie which had been offered them as a gift by the Indians. The majority of the survivors decided to migrate once more. Others continued to struggle for existence on the Schoharie and in . later years became founders of a number of the now larger towns and villages of that valley and on the Mohawk. The residue, after a series of wanderings down the valley of the Susque- hanna, found new and more permanent homes with people of like religious faith and nationality in the Mennonite settle- ments of Pennsylvania."
CHAPTER X SIDE LIGHTS TO MENNONITE HISTORY
After the first permanent colonies had been established by Mennonites at Germantown, Skip- pach, Lancaster, and other points in Pennsylvania, as referred to in previous chapters, there came the strong inclination, in the hope of obtaining the choicest lands and freedom from molestation from neighbors of different nationality, for our people to penetrate farther into the interior of the country. William Penn's treaty with the Indians had the effect for Quakers and Mennonites to feel entirely immune from attack and readily choose to neighbor with the Indian and share with him a common hunting ground.
This venturesome spirit took many of our Mennonite people far beyond the border of regular settlements, and in fact some groups of families often located in the deeper recesses of the wilderness. In this way Mennonites found their way at very early periods into sections of the Cumberland valley of Pennsylvania and Maryland and the Shenandoah valley of Virginia, and where, for a whole generation, not a drop of Quaker or Mennonite blood was ever shed at the hands of the Indians.
At such times and with the really primitive conditions by which they were surrounded, each Mennonite home could worship the God of heaven, and earth under its own vine and forest tree.
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Where it was convenient, two or more families joined in a season of worship on Sabbath days. In such homes the large quarto-sized family Bible held first place on the center table. Still there were other books constituting the library of these pioneer homes, such as the Book of Martyrs, Psalm books and Prayer books, the Wandering Soul and others, most if not all of which were in German, and were brought along over seas from Europe.
Up until a certain period in the History of America it is evident that as a nonresistant and non- proselyting people the Mennonites are known to have more often fallen victims to persecution and disturbance from their white brethren of different customs and practices from their own, than from Indian attack.
It is evident that the six hundred Palatinates who were sent to the Carolinas as mentioned in the story of Rudolph Cronau, penetrated into the in- terior of the states until they came in full view of the Blue mountains in what are now Guilford, Yadkin, Watauga and Catawba counties, where the family names of Heatwole, Hildebrand, Weaver, etc., prevail that are familiar with Mennonites in other states.
This section of North Carolina, in years past, was visited by John S. Coffman, M. S. Steiner, J. F, Brunk, and C. K. Hostetler, and they found people who were religiously nonresistant in sentiment and faith, but otherwise and to all appearance have long since been swept wholly into the common mould of Americanism.
CHAPTER XI PERSISTENT COLONIZATION MOVEMENTS
The inclination on the part of many Mennonites to keep well to the fore in finding homes along- the wilderness border has as a rule been westward, with however some arms from the main body in Pennsyl- vania extending northwestward to New York and Canada.
Another strong arm reached southward into Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee. However, the main trunk of the imigration move- ment has sent its strongest growths into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Ne- braska; while the main stem continued its growth still westward into Colorado and finally extended its topmost branches across the mighty Rocky mountains to states of the Pacific slope. In the meantime, other branches have gone far southward into Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Other branches also now reach forth into the Dakotas, Montana, Minnesota and the provinces of northwest Canada, until our people have become permanently located in twenty-six of the states and four of the Canadian provinces.
A glance at the great tree accompanying this chapter readily shows how it established its main stock with the year 1632 in Europe, and how this, for several generations grew in two separate trunks
in America, and which by love according to the law of ingrafting the two trunks became united in one on the principles of General Conference unity.
The following table may be the means for giving the reader a comprehensive grasp of Mennonite colo- nization in America as developed from time to time in each of the states and provinces where they are now located. In the more populous states only a few of the congregations are named.
Ivocation *When of Colony Pounded
First Families Inducements for to lyocate Colonization
Jansen, Kassel, Keyset
Jacobs, Kolb, Kuster
Van Bebber, Penny-
Kendig, Funk, Herr,
The Swamp, Pa.
Deep Run, Pa.
Gross, Wismer, Kulp,
Chester Co., Pa.
York Co., Pa.
Trieber, Reiff, Bear,
Burkhart, Barr, Reiff,
Good, Strite, Shank
Graybill, Moyer, Lau-
ver, Winey, Shellen-
Beechy, Miller, Bender
- Most of these dates are .taken from reliable records. Otker are
estimated dates and may not be correct.
Location *When of Colony Founded
First Families to Ivocate
Inducements for Colonization
Fretz, Kratz, Kulp
Coffman, Fry, Wenger
Big Levels of
Co., W. Va.
Fayette Co., Pa.
I790jjohnson, Bixler, Durr,
Redlands of the
Funk, Loucks, Over-
holt, Stauffer, Sher-
Cheap Rich Land
Eby, Moyer, Wisner
Fairfield Co., O.
Bixler, Good, Nold,
Fine Rich Soil
Stark Co., O.
Erie Co., N. Y.
Frick, Lieb, Lehman,
Martin, Lapp, Witmer
Medina Co., 0.
Wayne Co., O.
ter, Rohrer, Horst
Allen Co., O.
Prairie Laid out
Thut, Steman, Shenk
Elkhart Co., Ind.
Smith, Hoover, Holde-
man, Weldy, Wisler,
Henry Co., 111.
Brunk, Driver, Funk,
Great Corn Belt
Brubaker, Groff, Lapp,
Brunk, Evers, Wenger,
Marion Co., Kan.
Morgan Co., Mo.
Good Lands at
Jasper Co., Mo.
Keokuk Co., la.
Great Corn Belt
Knox Co., Tenn.
Blosser, Good, Stoltz-
The Sunny South
Location *When of Colony Founded
First Families to Locate
Inducements for Colonization
Shelby Co., Mo.
Lapp, Brubaker, Det-
Yoder, Hahn, Sbenk,
Job, W. Va.
Shantz, Wenger, Cress-
Great Wheat Belt
La. Junta, Colo.
Brunk, Kiser, Rhodes,
Resort for Con-
Mishler, Roth, Erb,
Thut, Garber, Hilty,
Fruit and Bee
N. W. Canada
Bricker, Kolb, Stauffer
Great Wheat Belt
Roth, Hoylman, Kauff-
Kauffman, Mast, Gin-
Minot, N. Dak.
The Wheat and
Woodford, N. D.
The Far North
Brunk, Geil, Buck-
LOSSES SUSTAINED BY THE PARENT
The foregoing list of settlements and accompany- ing map, indicate the location of congregations of the class of Mennonite people who have sprung directly from the parent stem of the Church that was originally planted in the state of Pennsylvania, and retained membership in the same church after locating elsewhere. In the early days a number of colonies were established in different sections of that state, and in the adjoining states of Maryland and Virginia.
After a second generation had grown up, the number of Mennonites in America became greatly augmented by the Amish element that located in large numbers in Pennsylvania, as well as in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. In the meantime the seeds of disunion began to germinate and grow to the extent that certain leaders took the unwise course of separating themselves from the main body, when in such case the foment and disturbance that was created, became the cause for certain adherents to withdraw voluntarily, or suffer themselves to be expelled from the main body. Hence, none of the branches so separated, have been enumerated in the first of the foregoing tables, but have all been assembled in the second table.
Adherents to the main branch having always
OF INFORMATION 61
been a non-resistant and a non-proselyting body, it was never supposed to maintain membership from material coming from "denominations other than from its own offspring. Along with this, the pre- caution was not taken in time for safeguarding the rising generation in the language and educational! training of the forefathers. "*
Because of these and other failings of the Church to do her whole duty to her offspring, it may be truthfully asserted that no other denomination in America has suffered as fearful reverses as have the Mennonites. No other Christian body perhaps, has sustained a greater proportionate loss in number, both by dismemberment from the parent body, and from material rightfully to be claimed as her own, going from her borders as a contributing growth to other denominations. This tremendous drain upon her material as shown by the second table, to say nothing of what has gone elsewhere, has brought on a condition by which she can number her adherents only by thousands today, where there might have been millions!
A Church that has been able, in the face of such tremendous losses, with the insurmountable difficulties in the past that were to be overcome, and still hold fast to its integrity in spite of the great disadvantage of being scattered over twenty-six states and three Canadian provinces, must yet have a golden future before it. God surely has wonderful things in store for a people whose pathway in the past has been so strewn with misfortunes. A church that could survive through such a long trail of fiery trials and ordeals is yet destined to rise.
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The past is irrecoverable, the dim future may yet show up its uncertainties; but the present is still ours, and may God give our leaders a sustain- ing grace to meet the oppositions and perplexities of each day and year as they come. May our vision of the future never be dimmed or obscured by op- portunities lost, or the failure to realize the rewards of duties well. done.
i ' CHAPTER XIII
OTHER MENNONITE BODIES J
Following is a list of bodies that have either seceded from the Mennonite Church in America, or came from Europe as independent bodies, or are sub- divisions of bodies that had previously seceded from the parent church. Though clinging to the name. Mennonite, in some form, they are not in fellowship with the parent body, in some cases differing widely from it in faith and practice.
1. Amish Mennonites (Old Order) followers of Jacob Ammon, a Mennonite bishop in Europe who was separated from his brethren about the year 1692. Under the leadership of Jacob Hertzler and others, many of these came to America a few decades later. Latest statistics assign this church 84 bishops, 231 ministers, 55 deacons, and 7746 members.
2. Reformed Mennonites organized in 1811 by John Herr and others. At present this church is credited with 20 places of worship, 15 bishops, 33 ministers, 16 deacons, and 2794 members.
3. Stauffer People organized in 1846 by Jacob Stauffer. Present membership, about 200.
4. General Conference Mennonites organized about 1860 by J. H. Oberholtzer and others. This church had its start in eastern Pennsylvania in 1847,. when Oberholtzer severed his connection with the Franconia Conference. He was joined a few years. later by several Swiss Mennonite congregations in
64 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
Iowa and Illinois, and still later reinforced by several thousand Russian Mennonites who came to America in the early seventies. The present strength of this church is rated at about 136 ministers and 20,000 members.
5. Church of God in Christ, Mennonite organ- ized by John Holdeman in 1859. The present strength of this church is rated at 5 bishops, 48 ministers, 19 deacons, and 2100 members.
6. Defenceless Mennonites organized in 1866 by Henry Egli, an Amish Mennonite minister in Indiana. Present statistics give the strength of this church as follows: bishops, 7; ministers, 18; deacons, 19; members, 1040.
7. Wisler Mennonites organized in 1871 by Jacob Wisler and others, in Indiana, and later rein- forced by a number of congregations in Ontario, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Latest statistics avail- able assign this church the following strength : bishops, 11; ministers, 34; deacons, 22; members, 1940.
8. Mennonite Brethren in Christ organized in 1883 by Daniel Brenneman, Solomon Eby, William Gehman, and others; being a union of "Evangelical Mennonites of Eastern Pennsylvania," who had with,- drawn from the Oberholtzer faction in 1859, the "Reformed Mennonites" in Indiana who had with- drawn from the Mennonite Church in 1874, the ..'Evangelical Mennonites" in Canada, and the "Breth- ren in Christ" in Ohio. This church is credited with 31 bishops, 148 ministers, and 7587 members.
9. Central Illinois Conference of Mennonites^- also. known as "Stuckey Mennonites," organized by
OF INFORMATION 65
Joseph Stuckey (an Amish Mennonite bishop of Illi- nois) and others about forty years ago. This church is credited with 23 bishops, 15 ministers, and 2874 members.
10. Amish Mennonites (Conservative) a branch that separated from the main body of Amish Menno 1 nites and organized themselves into a conference" in 1911. They are credited with 15 bishops, 33 minis- ters, 16 deacons, and 2794 members.
11. Russian Mennonites. Among the Russian Mennonites who have come to America since 1870 there are a number of separate bodies such as the "Brueder Gemeinde," the "Krimmer Brueder Ge- meinde," the "Kleine Gemeinde" "Bergthal" con- gregations, etc. In view of the possibilities in the way of Russian Mennonite immigration into America in the near future, it is not unlikely that at some time the largest element of Mennonite population in America may be the descendants from these immi- grants from Russia.
Counting all the different Mennonite bodies in America (United States, Canada, and Mexico) the total membership now approximates one hundred thousand. While we rejoice at the growth in num- bers, we can not but share in the generally expressed regret that there are so many different bodies of Mennonites. Some have left the parent body on the ground that the Mennonite Church is too strict in its discipline, others on the ground that it is not strict enough. And while one would naturally sup- pose that the branches inclined toward more ad- vanced conservatism would gravitate together and seek to unite into one body, and that there would
66 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
naturally be a general coming together on the part of those more inclined toward liberalism, yet this does not seem to be the case. On the other hand there have been further subdivisions in some of the seced- ing bodies already named. But should there ever be a turn in the tendency toward disunion, and both extreme conservatives and liberalists seek common ground, they will find a common meeting place on the ground now occupied by the parent body, official- ly known as "The Mennonite Church," which is about half-way between the extremes represented among Mennonite bodies. Concerning these, as well as members of all churches called Christian, we join in the prayer of our Lord "that they all may be one," even as the Father and the Son are one.
THE KINGDOM OF PEACE AND THE KINGDOM OF FORCE
Through the three centuries of their existence as a religious body, Mennonites have invariably held that the Bible teaching forbids that Christians engage in carnal warfare. This principle is clearly set forth in the sixth commandment, and is strongly emphasized and enlarged on in the Sermon on the Mount, and other portions of the New Testament. Writers of every class and period honestly admit that .Mennonites have a most unique and unim- peachable war record.
Most Christian bodies recognize in the peace doctrine one of the noblest of Christian virtues, and. that, the exercise of universal love and good will toward all human beings is man's highest duty on earth. It was originally designed by the Divine Mind that this principle should be observed among all nations of every kindred, people, and tongue under heaven.
Since love and good will are to be exercised by all mankind there are to be recognized two king- doms among men : the one a kingdom of thi.s- 'world, that rules and overawes by the power of the swo^d and other instruments of death, and the othef^ a kingdom whose weapon is the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God, which is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the
68 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart), hence the latter has no place in the kingdoms of this world.
The first is divinely appointed to hold in check the works of the evil doer and to preserve the life and dwelling place of all who temporarily abide in the world and are yet subjects of the kingdom of peace.
Members of the peace kingdom are supposed to be universally law-abiding and separate in operation, and hence as a kingdom of peace can never come in conflict with the kingdom of force. Should the kingdom of peace accomplish its great work of ex- tending over all the earth as the waters cover the sea, so that the lawless and evil doing class would disappear, then the kingdom of force would become obsolete and useless.
Though the fact is generally recognized that the kingdom of peace and the kingdom of force should operate separately as two institutions, after all many persons insist on exercising certain rights and privi- leges that give them identity in both kingdoms.
In short, citizenship becomes established in both kingdoms to the degree that where the fran- chise is used, it follows that such citizens should use the sword also. In this it becomes clear that the true principle of separation between the two powers is lost, and unhappily they become inter- woven and entangled one with the other.
Some Protestant leaders, such as Martin Luther and others, claimed that nonresistance * was taught in the Scriptures but yet held it to be necessary and obligatory for Christians to go to war with the civil
OF INFORMATION 69
powers when called on. Others, such as Zwingli and Calvin, believed and practiced the noncombatant life when applying to aggressive warfare; but de- fensive warfare they claimed to be right.
Menno Simons held the position and taught his followers that carnal warfare, under all conditions and circumstances, was wrong, and in direct oppo- sition to the teaching of the Bible. He boldly pro- claimed that "Our weapons are not swords and spears .... true Christians know no vengeance, no matter ho'w they are maltreated."
Because of the diversity of opinions in many of the Protestant creeds, it has long become a diffi- cult matter in time of war for the kingdom of force to discern the motives of believers who teach and practice the doctrine of absolute separation between Church and State.
It was Benjamin Franklin who said that "There never was a good war or a bad peace." Even in such light the Church stands entirely out of its element, when aiding or abetting war, or in lending assistance to the kingdom of force in executing its powers in resisting the works of the unrighteous.
Individuals high up in the affairs of civil life often fail utterly to understand the creed that holds it to be wrong for the Christian to stand up in de- fense of his own country. Because of thesfr'ccm- ditions it readily appears as to why its advocates are misunderstood, and find themselves classecUwith those who are friendly to the enemy and open trait- ors to their native country. In this way many well meaning people have become utterly blind to the fact that it requires more moral courage and real
70 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
bravery for its advocates to stand for such a prin- ciple than it does to meet an enemy in mortal com- bat.
To be regarded as "slackers" and "traitors," and in the meantime to be persecuted and punished ac- cordingly, carries with it a reproach that in the sight of men is one of the severest tests that Christian character can be called upon to endure.
Few if any Protestant denominations have ever suffered in Europe or America as have the Menno- nites. Three hundred years ago they were ridiculed, imprisoned, tortured, and killed by Catholics, and in later years received similar treatment from Prot- estants. It was the cruel scourge of religious wars in Europe that drove Mennonites in large numbers from that continent to America. Rather would they brave the perils of a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean (requiring from eight to twelve weeks) and the trials of pioneer life in America than to longer abide amid such surroundings.
Several of the colonies in America, especially Pennsylvania, had given out the inducement that they would be granted exemption from military duty. William Penn's treaty with the Indians, "that they would live in love and peace with him and his chil- dren as long as the sun and the moon endure," in- spired the emigrant to Pennsylvania shores to be- lieve that wars and rumors of wars would be un- known in that country.
History supplements the statement that as long as white men honored and respected this pledge made by the Indians, not one drop of Quaker or Mennonite blood was shed at their hands.
OVERTURES OF INDIANS WERE FIRST PEACEFUL, THEN REVENGEFUL
Mennonites as a people have never been known to come into aggressive or defensive conflict with the Indians.' When Mennonites or Quakers were known by them, they were readily recognized as peace-loving and peace-practicing people who were not suspected in the least of betraying a league of confidence. One of the first and earliest traits of the Indian character was to court the friendship and good will of their pale-faced neighbors. It was not until the principles of peace were ruthlessly violated by white men that the animal spirit in the Indian became aroused to acts of fury, desperation, and bloodshed.
The speeches of Logan, chief of the Mingoes, and the one given at the time of Black Hawk's fare- well, very lucidly and pointedly illustrate this thought. History records instances when the first ships of white men touched the shores of the New World, when the Indians at once recognized^ them as heaven-sent friends, and hastened to offer Iftiem the best things they had to eat in the form oTcooked venison and fish, two of the choicest articles and most toothsome of foods to be found in our market squares today. The story of their league made with William Penn and his people is a tribute to the
72 MENNO'NITE HANDBOOK
Indian character that transcends that of every other people in the world.
Whenever the Indians were able to recognize nonresistant and peace-loving people, special care was taken to make distinction between them and others with whom they were on the war-path. In evidence of this we have the acount of friendship and deep sympathy shown to the Mennonites in the Schoharie Valley of New York in the year 1714, also those in Lancaster and other counties in Penn- sylvania. All appeared to be perfectly immune to Indian attack because of the pledge they had given in the treaty with William Penn.
In Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, while war and bloodshed was going on at 'a terrible rate between tribesmen of those states, white settlers, many of whom were Mennonites, dwelt together in perfect quietude and shared the benefits of a com- mon hunting ground.
The overtures of the Indian being always of friendly bearing, there came a change with the out- break of the old French wars with the English colonists in 1754, when Indians were made to : be- lieve that all settlements by .whites east of the Qhip river were made with the purpose/of robbing them of their own hunting grounds. . -.,
These conditions became the cause for unrest on the part of the Indians themselves, as well .as for trouble and anxiety to whites along all border set- tlements of the east. Being a child of nature, the red man gave evidence of being heart-broken and disappointed because of having to give up extensive hunting ground areas without any reimbursement.
OF INFORMATION 73
Some tribes did not give up without a struggle. Others remained with the whites until the last of their tribes had disappeared in death. Concerning these there remained to us the mournful and deeply pathetic stories of "The Last of the Mohicans," "The Eagle of the Mohawks" and the supremely tragic tale (related by Charles Sprague) of "The North American Indian."
The widespread bitterness that sprang up, and the strife and bloodshed that followed, was not con- fined to the actual aggressors, but vengeance fell upon the innocent as well as upon the league- breaker and hunting-ground intruder.
Under such circumstances the peace-loving M'en- nonites, many of whom were located along the border settlements at this time, became exposed to the savage fury of the Indians and along with that they were made to suffer the reproach and perse- cution of white men of other religious persuasions because they refused to assist them in wars of exter- mination on the Indian or to drive him away.
The unparalleled treachery and savage ferocity that was continued for years between white men and red men forms a chapter in .American history that is awful and .heart-rending to contemplate. The Indians continued to claim the country as their own hunting grounds. In face of all this, foot by foot and mile by mile, the pale-faces continued to' En- croach upon what they considered their rightful possessions. v \
For some time the Indians exacted by way of' compensation the condition that when red men called at the home of a white man for something to
74 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
eat, he was not to be refused. At a later period this privilege became abused to the degree that Indians began to travel through the settlements of white men in bands of twenty or more and the privilege of being fed from the white man's home was claimed as usual. Whenever refusal was of- fered, it frequently happened that they would take possession of the premises for the time, cook their own meal, eat it and then proceed to their journey. Nonresistant people peaceably allowed this privilege to be exacted again and again without resentment, but other whites of different temperament resorted to violence and bloodshed in defending their homes from these invasions.
Conditions followed in which Mennonites in- discriminately suffered with the guilty, and num- bers of instances are on record, both in Pennsylvania and Virginia, where their homes were burned, and members of the family killed or carried into cap- tivity.
A Mennonite colony located on the headwaters of the Rappahannock in Fauquier county, Virginia, where families by the name of Barr, Baer, Groff Webber and others were attacked by Indians in 1724 and a number of the settlers killed.
Late in the night of September 19, 1757, the house of Jacob Hostetler in Berks county, Pennsyl- vania, was surrounded by eight or ten Indians. In the building were Jacob Hostetler, his wife, three sons, and a daughter. The father would not permit his sons to shoot at the Indians, even while they were setting fire to the house and barn. AfteY re- maining in the cellar as long as they could bear the
OF INFORMATION 75
heat, they crawled out by the lower window and at once were taken captive. The mother was stabbed to death while a son and the daughter were toma- hawked and scalped. The others were carried off captives. After living for seven years with the Indians, they were released and permitted to return to their home in Pennsylvania.
In 1763 the colony of Mennonites located in the Shenandoah Valley, in Page county, Virginia (where were settled the families of Michael Kauffman, Abram Heistand, Peter Blausser, Abram Strickler, John Rhodes and others) were all obliged to flee from Massanutten on the Shenandoah river to a place of safety east of the Blue Ridge mountains on account of a general Indian outbreak. In course of time these families all returned and reoccupied their homes.
On the last of August in the following year (1764) when the corn and hemp fields were grown to full length, eight Indians led by a white man sud- denly appeared at the home of John Rhodes, a min- ister in the Mennonite Church, and the greater number of the family were surprised and massacred and their scalps taken.
Those who were killed were Bro Rhodes, who was shot while standing in the doorway of his home, his wife and one son, who were killed in the yard. Of two sons who were out in the~~eorn field, one was shot out of a pear tree (into x which he had climbed to see what all the noise x at^ the house meant), the other was shot and killed in the river while attempting to cross to a place of safety. While the awful work of taking the lives of her father,
76 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
mother and brother was going on in the yard, the daughter (Elizabeth, aged twelve or fifteen years) snatched up her baby sister (Anna, about a year and a half old) and ran toward the barn, where she was followed by an Indian. She ran in at a door and secured it, and while the Indian ran back to the house to get fire, Elizabeth crept out at an opening at the rear of the barn, entered a field of tall hemp, and through it ran unobserved to the river, which she crossed, all the time carrying her little sister, till she reached the home of a neighbor, and thus saved her own life and that of her little sister.
After plundering the premises fire was set to all the buildings. The body of Bro. Rhodes being left in the door-way where it had fallen, it became partly consumed in the flames. The Indians then took their flight, taking with them two other sons and two daughters as captives. The younger son being weakly and unable to travel, he was killed. The two daughters refusing to go farther, they were also killed in a barbarous manner and scalped. The remaining son, whose name was Michael, was taken along to the Indian camps west of the Ohio river where he was held as a captive for three years. While there he saw the Indians sell the scalps of his father, mother, and six brothers and sisters to the French authorities for about fifteen dollars. After Gen. Bouquet's treaty in 1767, the Indians were required to release all white prisoners. Mich- ael, along with many others, was permitted to come home to assist in the settling up of his father's estate. -
Without question, the massacre was one of the
OF INFORMATION 77
most tragic and harrowing circumstances that God has ever permitted to befall the Mennonite Church in America.
It was also in the year 1764 that John Hooley and family, along with other Mennonite families, were compelled to leave their newly established homes in the upper Susquehanna Valley to escape Indian attack. It was because of these conditions that they were led to locate permanently in Lan- caster county, Pennsylvania.
In about the year 1760 the Hartman family in Lebanon county, Pennsylvania, was raided by In- dians while the mother and a son had gone to mill several miles from home. Several Indians entered the house where they killed the father and one son, and took the two remaining children, a son and a daughter named Regina, away with them as cap- tives. The son was never heard from again, but Regina was taken to the Indian towns somewhere in the wilderness of Ohio and held as a captive for seven years, in which time she grew to womanhood. Before the home was broken up by the awful tragedy wrought by the hand of the Indians, Regina used to hear her mother sing a number of familiar hymns, one of which through her long period of captivity she never forgot.
By the treaty of 1767, she was permitted to come back home but when she reached-her former neigh- borhood she could recognize no x one not even her mother who searched diligently among the returned prisoners in the effort to find her. It was not until the mother began to sing some of the hymns she used to sing at the time of Regina's cnildhood that
78 MENNONITE HANDBOOK
the girl, now grown to womanhood, walked up to her, saying that she remembered hearing that hymn sung before she was taken away by the Indians. It was in this most remarkable and providential way that mother and daughter were restored to each other.
In about the year 1767 the parents of Magdalene Weland settled and established their home at a point on the banks of the upper forks of the Susque- hanna river one hundred miles north of Lancaster. When the family first located here Magdalene was then but a young girl. During their stay in this locality, the family was twice driven from home and their buildings burned. Final escape was made by way of the river in a small canoe, but not until one of Magdalene's brothers had been shot dead and another wounded by the Indians. Other members of the family escaped death by lying flat down in the bottom of the canoe, from which the upper edges were splintered away and the fragments scattered over their bodies by the continued firing of the Indians from the shore.
Magdalene, with the surviving members of the family, reached Lancaster county without further harm. Here she in time was married to David Heatwole and lived for some years on the Nolt place near New Holland. In 1795 they located in Rock- ingham county, Virginia, where, a large family was reared. David Heatwole was the first deacon of the Mennonite Church in Virginia and Magdalene Wel- and Heatwole, his wife, was the great grandmother to the writer.
Other accounts of Indian outbreaks on Menno-
OF INFORMATION 79
nite families might be given, but the circumstances are meagre in the details and not sufficiently authen- tic for record here. In a general way destruction to life and property by Indians against Mennonites are not so frequent, when compared with the numerous instances where people of other nationality and re- ligious faith suffered greatly.
TRIALS OF MENNONITES DURING THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR
It is known that during the Revolutionary War Mennonites were located in considerable bodies in the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Membership was confined largely to the class who were married and settled in life. Though the cus- toms of their home life were in all respects contrary to the tactics of military training, single young men of Mennonite parentage found it difficult to keep out of the army. Early settlers, both old and young men, were given much to hunting, and of course were habitual gun carriers, and hence they were much accustomed to camp-life in the woods. The first ranks of the continental armies were made up of young men and were later recruited by men more advanced in life.
Among the latter class were those members of Menonite faith who claimed exemption from mili- tary duty on conscientious grounds and that the positive creed of the Church was such that forbids carnal warfare. Because of this attitude public feel- ing ran high in some localities in Pennsylvania and in Virginia, where Mennonites were threatened with mob violence. In Virginia, Quakers as well as Men- nonites were kept under surveillance and their mo- tives ascribed more to cowardice and fear than the teaching of Scripture.
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-To counteract this unfriendly public feeling, Mennonites in Pennsylvania in the year 1775 drew up the following short and sincere Declaration:
"TO OUR HONORABLE ASSEMBLY AND ALL OTH- ERS IN HIGH OR LOW STATION OF ADMIN- ISTRATION, AND TO ALL FRIENDS AND INHABITANTS OF THIS COUNTRY, TO WHOSE SIGHT THIS MAY COME, BE THEY ENGLISH OR GERMANS"
"In the first .place we acknowledge us indebted to the most high God, who created Heaven and Earth, the only good Being, to thank him for all His great Goodness and manifold Mercies and Love through our Savior Jesus Christ who is come to save the Souls of Men, having all Power in Heaven and on Earth.
"Further we find ourselves indebted to be thankful to our late worthy Assembly, for giving so good Advice in these troublesome Times to all Ranks of People in Pennsyl- vania, particularly in allowing those, who, by the Doctrine of our Savior Jesus 'Christ, are persuaded in their Con- sciences to love their Enemies, and not to resist Evil, to enjoy the liberty of their Consciences, for which, as also all the good things we enjoyed under their care, we heartily thank that worthy Body of the Assembly, and all high and low in Office who have advised to such a peaceful Measure, hoping and confiding that, they, and all others entrusted with Power, in this hitherto blessed Province, may be moved by the same Spirit of Grace, which animated the first Founder of this Province, our late worthy Proprietor William Penn, to grant Liberty of Conscience to all its in- habitants, that they in the great and memorable Day of Judgment may be put on the right Hand of the just Judge who judgeth without Respect of Person, and hear of Him these blessed words, "Come ye blessed of my Father, in- herit the Kingdom prepared for yo ; u,^ etc. What ye have done unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done unto me, among which number (i. e. tne least of Christ's brethren), We, by His grace hope to be/ ranked, and every
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Leinity and favor shown to such tender conscienced, al though weak Followers of this our blessed Savior, will not be forgotten by Him in that great day.
"The Advice to those who do not find Freedom of Conscience to take up arms, that they ought to be helpful to those who are in Need and distressed Circumstances, we receive with cheerfulness to all Men of that Station they may be it being our Principle to feed the Hungry and give the Thirsty Drink we dedicated ourselves to serve all Men in every Thing that can be helpful to the Preservation of Men's Lives, but we find no Freedom in giving or doing or assisting in any Thing by which Men's Lives are de- stroyed or hurt We beg the Patience of all those who be- lieve we err on this Point.
"We are always ready according to Christ's Command to Peter, to pay the tribute, that we may offend no Man, and we are ready to pay Taxes and to render unto Caesar the Things that are Caesar's, and to God those Things that are God's, although we think ourselves very weak to give to God His due Honor, He being a Spirit and. Life, and we only Dust and Ashes.
"We are also willing to be subject to the Higher Pow- ers, and to give in the manner Paul directs us for he beareth the Sword not in vain, for he is the Minister of 'God, a Revenger to execute Wrath upon him that doeth Evil.
"This testimony we lay down before our worthy Assemb- ly and all other Persons in Government, letting them know, that we are thankful as above mentioned, and that we are not at Liberty in Conscience to take up Arms to conquer our Enemies, but rather to ipray to God, who has Power in Heaven and on Earth, for US and THEM.
"We also crave the Patience of all the inhabitants of this country that they think to see clearer in the Doctrine of the blessed Jesus Christ, we will leave it to them and God, finding ourselves very poor; for Faith is to proceed out of the Word of God, which is Life and Spirit, and a Power of God, and our Conscience is to be instructed by the same, therefore we beg for Patience.
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"Our small Gift which we have given, we gave to the those who have the Power over us, that we may not offend them, as Christ taught us by the Tribute Penny. We heartily pray that God would govern all Hearts of our Rulers, be they high or low, to meditate those good Things which will pertain to OUR and THEIR Happiness."
"The above Declaration written by Benjamin Hershey, minister of the Menninist Church, and signed by a number of Elders and Teachers of the Society pf Mennonists and some of the German Baptists, presented to the Honorable House of Assembly, on the 7th day of November, was most graciously received."
Though the action of government authorities counseled the people against mob violence, so un- popular became the Mennonites in different sections of the country that numbers of them moved to the wilderness sections of Canada with their families, rather than to longer bear the taunts and jibes of unfriendly and hostile neighbors.
On page 143 of W. L. Grant's High School History of Canada, appears the statement that even after the close of the Revolutionary War and after peace had been declared between the British and the Americans, "An orgy of cruelty broke out in which men and women were imprisoned, whipped, tarred and feathered." As a consequence, more than 28,000 residents of the United States sought refuge in different parts of Canada. As many as 5,000 took up land in the fertile Niagara peninsula and other sections farther west in what is now Ontario. Among the latter were numbers of Mennonites who left comfortable homes in Pennsylvania and set their faces to the wilderness to go v thrjugh the experiences of pioneer life over again. Though the change meant destitution, privation, and suffering, they longed
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for the security and protection of the English gov- ernment.
Out of this general exodus of Mennonites from the parent folds in the United States have in time grown and many different and (in a number of cases) large congregations now comprising the On- tario Conference, one of the important bodies among Mennonites in America.
The peace-loving Mennonites were in most cases misunderstood and were classed in common with the Tories and loyalists of that period. The property of hundreds was confiscated and the proceeds re- verted to the government, that was just at that time in dire need for funds. In the meantime the British government made strong inducement to this unfor- tunate class of people to locate within the borders of Canada. Two hundred acres of land were given to each family and provisions were made to give as much more to each son when he became of age, and as much to each daughter when married.
Provisions, seeds, and tools were also provided. In Ontario alone it is said that nearly 3,000,000 acres of land was so turned over to new settlers. With such inducements there were many Mennonite families from Pennsylvania and elsewhere who left the bounds of the United States to begin home- making anew in the rich timberlands of Upper Canada.
CHAPTER XVII THE WAR OF 1812 AND THE MEXICAN WAR
The United States army during these wars being made up of volunteers, people of nonresistant faith had no occasion to be disturbed. The old army records of those periods indicate, however, that per- sons of Mennonite parentage in Pennsylvania and Virginia were enlisted in the ranks and saV service in both these wars. As a rule these were young men not at the time holding membership with the Church.
For generations before and after the Mexican War the United States government established a general law requiring every able-bodied citizen to take no less than four days of military training every year. By paying a fine of fifty cents a day for each absence from these training-days, which were known as muster drills, Mennonites avoided doing violence to conscience.
The two war periods referred to became very unpopular with many people of the United States because the armies were marched out of their native country to places far from their homes. Thousands sickened and died during camp life and in certain instances whole battallions and regiments refused in a body to cross the borders of their country either into Canada or Mexico. ^
During these wars Menrionjtes became largely engaged in the production of foodstuffs, and owing to the advance in prices many of them\t>ecame wealthy
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and were able to lay up much goods for themselves and their children. It was the first era of prosperity and sumptuous living for Mennonites in America.
CHAPTER XVIII MENNONITES DURING THE CIVIL WAR
The military laws during the Civil War were very exacting, requiring that all men capable of service should enter the ranks at ages ranging from eighteen to forty-five years. Because of the extrem- ity for man-power in the Southern Confederacy be- ing reached at an early period of the War, the age limit was changed to seventeen to sixty years. In the North the laws were less stringent, as the man-power was greater, and it was not until toward the latter part of the war that draft laws were en- forced.
The exemption laws were of benefit to few, and court-martial and heavy fines awaited all who failed to respond to the general call for troops. In the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where Mennonites of the Southern States were chiefly located, many of the men of this faith were drafted and forcibly taken into the army.
Some of these went from their homes leaving the solemn pledge with loved ones that they would not strike a blow, or fire a gun at the enemy. In time the purpose and conviction of these brethren became known, and they were reported to officers higher up. They were threatened with court-martial and the death sentence, but no change followed in their attitude toward the enemy. Finally they were released from bearing arms, aricHwere assigned to
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other lines of service, such as cooking meals and the driving of teams.
After serving in these different capacities through the campaign of 1861 62, most of these brethren found their way back to their homes, where some time was spent keeping hidden away from the ob- servation of army officials. Finding this experience very unsafe, they passed through the border lines as refugees to the western and northern states, to remain until after the close of the war between the states. On one of these perilous journeys, a com- pany of about seventy refugees was captured by a small body of southern troops and were taken as prisoners of war to the famous Libby Prison at Richmond, Va., where after being held for nearly two months they were liberated by action of the Confederate government on conditions that each became responsible for the payment of five hundred dollars into the Confederate treasury. Most of the prisoners being Mennoriites, the Church at home provided the money and the brethren were permitted to return to their homes where they received a most joyful reception.
The great property loss sustained by Mennonites was during the raids made by the Confederate armies into the Cumberland Valley, into Maryland and Pennsylvania, and by the Federal armies into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and elsewhere.
In all these sections the destructive effects of war became manifest in robbery, burnings, the slaughtering and driving away of live stock of all kinds, the plundering of homes with the abuse and humiliation of the inmates by an unrestrained sol-
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diery which bespoke the awful verdict that war is relentless and cruel wherever its effects are felt, and that the path of strife and bloodshed ever leads to destruction and death.
Unlike the wars of 1812 and with Mexico, in- stead of Mennonites becoming rich and independent because of great profits made in the sale of food products, they, as a people, in the portions of Penn- sylvania, Maryland and Virginia were thrown back- ward financially no less than fifty years on account of the devastating consequences of the Civil War.
THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR
A conflict of arms broke out early in the year 1908 between the United States and Spain and was concluded with the magnanimous terms of peace in which a conquering country paid the conquered country the sum of $20,000,000 as one of the terms of the treaty. '
President McKinley called for 125,000 volun- teers. This quota of men was supplied without the enrollment of one known Mennonite, though num- bers having Mennonite parentage are known to have enlisted, and some who lost their lives, were of Mennonite blood.
A war where only volunteers enlist affords an excellent opportunity for people of nonresistant faith to show where their place is in time of war. It is only when the draft laws are enforced that it often happens that the real position'. of Mennonites is not understood by the authorites_in charge of the war machine, and that bonds, fines, and imprisonments become their lot.
TESTING TIMES DURING THE GREAT WORLD WAR
When great armies are made up by selective draft regulations, it is apt to develop a hard situation for people of noncombatant faith. It is mentioned that in Germany Mennonites were shot for refusing to go into the army. In Canada, as well as in the United States, the widespread sentiment prevailed that Mennonites were dodgers, slackers, and friends to the enemy. Many others, out of no religious motives whatever, were styled "pacifists" and "con- scientious objectors." Officers and soldiers in the ranks looked reproachfully upon all these different classes as a common herd.
Even in places outside of army circles, public feeling became wrought up to such degree that mob raids were made on certain settlements where Mennonites were located.
It is to be admitted that public officials under such circumstances found it difficult to always dis- cern the line of demarkation between one whose religious creed forbids him to engage in carnal war- fare and one whose creed does not declare against its members going to war. Because of the greatly aroused public sentiment Mennonites had to be drafted and were held in camps throughout the period that the United States was engaged in the conflict.
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During the heaviest drafting of the War, the latter part of 1918, young members of the Church, in considerable numbers, were taken into the various training camps scattered over the country.
Through the efforts of Bro. Aaron Loucks and other brethren who were appointed by the General Conference, our boys in camp fared much better than they otherwise might have done. The failure of the under- officers in the training camps to get the proper interpretation of orders issued from the War Department at Washington as to the treatment of noncombatants from a church whose creed forbids its members to engage in war in any form was re- sponsible for much of the sufferings of noncombat- ants in camp. The visits of Bro. Loucks and his co- workers seldom failed to rectify these errors. The fears of parents concerning the welfare of their sons in camp were greatly alleviated by these visits which also brought relief to those in camp, and often an understanding was reached whereby the officers in camp were able to co-operate more sympathetically with the War Department in the regulations gov- erning the treatment of religious objectors.
While in camp, officers were directed by the War Department to keep noncombatants in separate barracks, where they were not required to wear the uniform, or against their conscience do that which led them to aid or abet war. In maintaining these principles they were frequently brought under severe test, and as far as possible/ were made to appear very small and despicable /in,the eyes of the regular soldier. Persistent efforts we're made from time to time to induce brethren to render- servjce that gave
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direct aid to the war machine. In some cases where this service was refused brethren were charged and brought for trial before military courts, where sen- tence was passed on them for a term of years in army prisons.
A Historical Meeting
Probably one of the most important meetings ever held by Mennonites in America was the meet- ing of the Mennonite General Conference held at Yellow Creek Mennonite Church, Elkhart county, Indiana, Aug. 29,30, 1917, about five months after the United States had entered the War on the side of the allies. Because of the momentous problems facing nonresistant churches at this time it was felt that we could not make our position too clearly known among all people, that all might know the reasons for our attitude, Accordingly two papers were drawn up and adopted. The first, "Mennonites on Military Service," (which, because of its im- portance, we herewith print entire) is a discussion of the scriptural reasons for espousing the nonre- sistant faith. The second was in the form of an appeal to the President of the United States and the Premier of Canada asking for exemption from military service. A committee of three was ap- pointed to carry this appeal to Washington and lay both papers before President Wilson and Secretary of War Baker, and a similar committee of Canadians was appointed to apprise the authorities at Ottawa of our position on the war question. In both capi- tals the committees received respectful hearing.
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MENNONITES ON MILITARY SERVICE
A Statement of Our Position on Military Service as
Adopted by The Mennonite General Conference,
August 29, 1917
Inasmuch as present war conditions call for an official utterance from our Church, we, the bishops, ministers, dea- cons and delegates of the Mennonite Church in General Conference assembled at the Yellow Creek Church, near Goshen, Indiana, Aug. 29, 1917, representing sixteen con- ferences in the United States, Canada, and India, desire to present the following as an expression on the doctrine of nonresistance as applied to present conditions brought on by the world war now raging.
Our Position Defined
As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, we interpret His command, "Resist not evil," by His other teachings on this subject; viz., "Love your enemies;" "Do good to them that hate you;" "Pray for them which despitefully use you alnd persecute you;" "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight;" "All they that take .the sword shall perish with the ^jsword." The Bible also teaches us not to avenge ourselves (Rom. 12:17-21), that "the weapons of our warfare are not 'Carnal" (II Cor. 10:4), and that "the servant of the Lord must not strive" (II Tim. 2:24). Be- lieving- that the children of God should imbibe and practice these teachings, we hold that Christian people should have no part in carnal warfare of any kind or for any cause. Our attitude on the question of military service is correctly stated in that clause of the Selective Draft Law enacted May 18, 1917, which provides for exemption for members of every church "whose existing creed or principles forbid its members to participate in war r1n-,litey form and whose religious convictions are against war dwjbarticipation there- in." We deeply regret, however,Vthat this exemption is- practically nullified (save in the matter Vof bearing arms) in
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the further provision empowering the government to impress nonresistant people into non-combatant service.
In our Confession of Faith, adopted at Dortrecht, Hol- land, in 1632, the position of our church is defined as follows:
"Regarding revenge, whereby we resist our ene- mies by the sword, we believe and confess, that the Lord Jesus has forbidden His disciples and followers all revenge and resistance, and has thereby com- manded them not to 'return evil for evil, nor railing for railing'; but to 'put up the sword into the sheath,' or, as the prophets foretold, 'beat them into plow- shares.' Matt 5:39,44; Rom. 12:14; I Pet. 3:9; Micah 4:3.
"From this we see, that, according to the ex- ample, life, and doctrine of Christ, we are not to do wrong, or cause offense or vexation to any one; but to seek the welfare and salvation of all men; also, if necessity should require it, to flee, for the Lord's sake, from one city to another, and suffer the 'spoil- ing of our goods,' rather than give offense to any one: and if we are struck on our 'right cheek, rather to turn the other also' than to revenge our- selves or return the blow. Matt. 5:39, 10:23; Rom. 12:19.
"And that we are, besides this, also to pray for our enemies, comfort and feed them, when they are hungry and thirsty, and thus by well doing convince them and overcome the evil with good. Rom. 12:20, 21.
"Finally, that we are to do good in all respects, 'commending ourselves to every man's conscience in , the sight of God/ and according to the law of Christ, do nothing to others that we would not wish them to do unto us. II Cor. 4:2; Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31." Article 14, Page 25.
This position has been uniformly held by our fore- fathers from Reformation times and their loyalty and de- votion to their faith is attested to by their suffering, even to the extent of martyrdom and banishment by those gov- ernments enjoining military service upon their citizens, and for which cause they gratefully accepted the hospitality and the guarantee of religious liberty of this land, historical records bearing ample witness to these facts.
In relation to governments we believe that every child of God, besides being a citizen of the Heavenly Kingdom
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(John 18:36; Phil. 3:20), should also be in subjection to civil governments (Rom. 13:1-5; Tit. 3:1; I Pet. 2:1347). Even laws which may seem unwise and unjust should be submitted to uncomplainingly and no thought should be entertained of doing anything "but comply with all that they ask of us unless they prescribe conditions contrary to the Gospel; in which case we should meekly but faithfully stand- true to the principles of the Gospel, even if the consequences, entail suffering. This position has been exemplified by the apostles (Acts 5:29) and our early church fathers.
Past Favors Acknowledged
It is with grateful hearts that we recount the favors and considerations accorded our people in the past. In the days of William Penn our fathers accepted his invitation to immigrate to this land where they might enjoy the freedom of conscience in religion and exemption from military service. These benefits were later confirmed to them by the Consti- tution of the United States and by State Constitutions. We rejoice that freedom of conscience is thus recognized by the laws of our land. We appreciate the exemption ac- corded our brethren, both in the North and in the South, during the 'Civil War, ^hen once their position with refer- ence to war became fully known. We still have among us brethren who suffered for conscience's sake during that period, but recall with much gratitude the freedom from military service which that exemption secured for them.
We are grateful for the exemption clause for non- resistant people in the new Selective Draft Law, and hereby express the hope that when the powers that be fully under- stand our position with reference to military service, this clause referring to non-combatant service may be accord- ingly modified.
We acknowledge with deep humiliation that not all of our people have lived in full conformity with the Gospel standard or consistent with our profession of a holy life. Some, contrary to the teachings of the Church, have been entangled in politics, in commercialism; pleasure-seeking. and in other forms of worldliness; but it should be borne in mind that such conduct has been without regard to the express wish and teaching of the Church. The Mennonite Church having continually stood for the surrendered life, a consistent separation from the world, and an attitude of peace toward all men, we call upon our people to bear in mind our obligations (Eph. 4:1) that in all places they may be known by the Scriptural designation "A peculiar people, zealous of good works."
The Present Issue
Recognizing with gratefulness the consideration given our religious convictions, as previously stated, we take this opportunity of giving expression of our attitude concerning the issue as it now confronts us. As a Christian people we have always endeavored to support the government under which we lived in every 'Capacity consistent with the teaching of the Gospel as we understand it, and will continue to do so; but according to this teaching we cannot participate in war in any form; that is, to aid or abet war, whether in a combatant or non-combatant capacity. We are conscious of what this, attitude, under existing circumstances, may mean. No one who really understands our position will accuse us of either disloyalty or cowardice; for our record has proved our submissiveness to the powers that be, and to maintain our position under present conditions requires greater courage than to accept non-combatant service. But believing as we do, that any form of service under the military arm of the government means responsibility, either directly or indirectly, for the taking of human life and other destructive acts of war, we cannot consistently do otherwise than hold aloof from every form of military service. Our people have at all times refrained from voluntary enlistment for service in any form under previous military laws, and for us now to accept service under the military arm of the government, would be equivalent to a denial of the faith and principles which we have held as vital to our spiritual wellbeing and eternal salvation.
We appeal to the President of the United States and all others in authority to bear with us in this attitude and not to construe our position as a lack of appreciation for past favors or as an act of disloyalty; also to grant unto us full liberty of conscience and the free exercise of our faith.
1. To the Brotherhood. We recommend that in hu- mility we seek at the throne of grace the blessing which others have sought to secure through the power of the sword. That we continue our prayers in behalf of the rulers of our land and all others in authority, continue to pray for the peace of nations; that we maintain a calmness of mind and heart that naturally accompanies a trust in God; that we refrain from uncharitable criticism in any form, and avoid heated controversy with those who do not agree with us on points of doctrine, missing no opportunity of comply- ing with the Scriptural injunction of returning good for evil.
2. To Our Brethren Liable for Military Service. We recommend that they comply with every requirement of the government, availing themselves of every opportunity to present their claims for exemption, exercising care that they do not commit any acts that could be rightfully interpreted as desertion or treason and at the time when they receive the summons to enter the military service, they present themselves to the authorities and meekly inform them that under no circumstances' can they consent to service, either combatant or non-combatant, under the military arm of the government, citing them to the fact that they are mem- bers of a church whose creed and principles forbid them to have part in war in any form, and that their consciences coincide with this position; submitting to any penalty the government may see fit to inflict, trusting the Lord for guidance and protection. ;
3. To Our. Conferences and Congregations. We recommend that they make every provision for the wellbeing of our brethren who may be called upon to suffer on account of their faith as a result of this trying situation. While we expect an attitude of submission and loyalty on the part of our members, we should not deal harshly, but charitably and with consideration, with our brethren who may be put to the test these days of trial.
With a fervent prayer to Almighty God that He may bless and so direct the rulers of our land that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in the full exercise of our religious convictions; that we, as His children, may be faithful to and contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; that God in His wise providence may overrule all to the glory of His name and the strengthening of His cause among men, we humbly subscribe our names to these dec- larations and pledge our powers in devotion to the principles herein set forth.
This statement was signed by 54 bishops, 110 ministers, and 35 deacons.
Preparations were also made for looking after the interests of the young brethren who had been drafted into the army but who could not conscientiously have any part in military service. These young brethren, as a rule were kept in detention camps, and before the War was ended several hundred nonresistants (many of them Mennonites) had been sent to military prisons because their conscience forbade them to have any part in noncombatant military service. These were visited regularly by the brethren who had been appointed for such work. Among those active in this work were Aaron Loucks, D. D. Miller, J. S. Hartzler, E. L. Frey, A. G. Clemmer, J. C. Habecker, I. B. Good, D. H. Bender and others.
In the light of all other events in the history of this country, there had never before been a con- fiict of arms in America that more generally affected the Mennonites, or brought to them more widely extended disturbance than at the time of the great World's War.
There were cases also where officials of the Mennonite Church were 'arrested, arraigned in United States courts, and heavily fined for alleged violations of the Espionage law, passed during the War for the purpose of restraining enemies of the country for working against the policy of the government during- the War. Among these we may name the case of S. H. Miller of Shanesville, Ohio, arraigned before a U. S. court in Cleveland, Ohio, and the writer in company with Rhine W. Benner, who were fined before a court in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
At a later period in the war many of our brethren who had long been held in camp, were allowed to go out into farming sections of the country to assist in the gathering and the storing of crops, but a careful regulation was adopted so that in no case were they allowed to go to their own homes or neighborhoods. In some cases where the brethren arrived at the places assigned, threatenings to lynch them became at times loud and frequent.
After the armistice was signed all our brethren were called back to camp, where they appeared to have been among the first to get their discharges. Though the hardest tests appear to have come upon the brethren who were called into camp, and still more so while confined in army prisons, yet many of them were also severely tried at their homes. Solicitation to invest in liberty bonds and War savings stamps was made in strong terms to our people. Where they refused to contribute to the different war funds, threats were made and some put into execution, such as tar and feathering, painting houses and barns in yellow, and decorating autos and buildings with flags.
The War closed in November, 1918. It left millions of people in war-stricken countries homeless, helpless, penniless, hopeless, dying by thousands from famine and pestilence. While not willing to help prosecute the War, Mennonites were not slow to contribute their mite toward the relief of suffering humanity. Accordingly there was organized in Dec. 1917 a relief 'commission known as "Mennonite Relief Commission for War-sufferers." Volunteers were sent to France, to the Near East, and later to Russia. There have been few changes made in this organization, the present Executive Committee consisting of Aaron Loucks, D. D. Miller, Eli Reist, Levi Mumaw, and E. L. Frey. In common with other Mennonite relief organizations, a Mennonite Central Committee was organized to look after the poor in Russia and, in co-operation with the Mennonite Colonization Committee, to help such Russian Mennonites as desire it, to, come to America.
As an evidence of their sincerity, Mennonites, since the armistice was signed, have volunteered to serve with the reconstruction forces without pay; besides these people as a body have within the six years since the war is over, contributed over a million dollars for the support of the hungry and destitute in war-torn lands. Of the many thousands who clamored for entrance into the field of strife, there are a large percent who aver that never again could they be induced to go into the ranks of the army because the solemn conviction has come to them that war is un-Christian, destructive and murderous. It is estimated that where the noncombatant life was advocated in this country by thousands, before the war, the same principle is now being espoused and fostered by millions, since the war.
Two years after the meeting of the Mennonite General Conference at Yellow Creek, at which time steps were taken looking after the interests of young brethren during the War, this same body met in regular session at Harrisonburg, Virginia, August 27-29, 1919. At this meeting the following paper was drawn up and adopted:
OUR POSITION ON PEACE: An Expression of Gratitude
We, the Mennonites of United States, Canada, and India, in General Conference assembled near Harrisonburg, Va., August 27-29, 1919, express our gratitude to our Heavenly Father "who maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth," that peace has again returned to the warring nations with which we are identified, and that during the trying times of the past few years since we last met in session near Goshen, Ind., August 29, 30, 1917, He has kept us in His loving care and given us grace to preserve our testimony of peace to the world.
We further wish to express our sincere gratitude to those in authority who paused in the midst of pressing cares and duties to give ear to our appeals and by recognizing our petitions made it possible for us to engage in pursuits consistent with our faith.
A Statement of the Doctrine of Peace
As followers of Christ we believe His Gospel to be a Gospel of peace. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you" (John 1427). "But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:44,45). "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. There- fore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:18-21). And now that the nations have returned to the pursuits of peace we believe that our brethren should continue to apply the principles of peace and nonresistance to all their activities; in business, by seeking not their own but every man another's welfare; in dealing with those at variance with us, by rendering good for evil under all conditions; in the reconstruction of devastated lands and their rehabilitation and any constructive or relief measure helpful to man, by rendering assistance in men and money; in every walk of life manifesting the spirit of love and good will toward all men.
The experience of the past few years has brought about a change in the minds of many with reference to maintaining a large army and making military training compulsory and universal. This, according to our faith, would require of us service which, we believe, would involve the violation of a principle of the Gospel of Christ whose teachings we regard as our rule of life and conduct.
We are conscious of the consideration our government has given to those men who on account of their religious convictions and faith could not serve in the military establishment, and now in the event that military training and service become universal and compulsory, we humbly plead that such provisions be made in the law that we may be exempted from military training and service.
Recommendations of the Peace Committee to the General Conference
We recommend that this General Conference appoint a standing committee of five brethren whose duty it shall be to study any legislation of the nation, or its several states, that may come up for consideration which affects our faith who, in co-operation with the Executive Committee of the General Conference, shall take such steps as they deem necessary to give such information to the Church as may tend to preserve the unity of the faith, and to bring our position before any officials or representatives of Government for their consideration that we may continue to enjoy religious liberty as provided by the constitution of the United States.
Whereas this body, the Mennonite General Conference, has declared its -position on peace and the proposed universal compulsory military training, and,
Whereas such statement may be of interest to the chief officials of our land, be it,
Resolved, That a copy of said statement, "Our position on Peace," as passed by the said Mennonite General Conference in session near Harrisonburg, Va., August 27-29, 1919, be sent to the Honorable Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States and such other officials as may be deemed advisable.
CHAPTER XX. HISTORICAL OUTLINE OF MENNONITE LITERATURE
- For an extended description of the experiences of Mennonites during these trying times, read "Mennonites in the World War," by J. S. Hartzler, published by Mennonite Publishing House, Scottdale, Pennsylvania.