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James Valley manager Edward Hofer with newspaper photo of his younger self. Lena Hofer below and grandson Christopher. According to the Inside the Ark: Fewer than people left colonies between until , one study suggests. But in the following five-year period, nearly left, although most returned. The number continued to rise. From , people left the colonies. The rate of defections reached a watershed moment in the early s, when a study found defections exceeded the birthrate.

While migration from Hutterite communities has slowed, it continues at a historically high rate.

Old ways, new world

The reasons for leaving vary. The lifestyle and career choices may be too limiting. Young people are most likely to test the outside world but, increasingly, entire families are heading for the exits. Inside the Ark says people most often leave to join evangelical Christian churches, attracted by their message of personal salvation rather than a communal life. The churches welcome Hutterites and help them get settled. There has even been some recruitment. That is something happening that we struggle with," Kleinsasser says. Hutterites do not believe a person can attain salvation without communal life.

Policies on defectors vary from colony to colony. But others take a more charitable approach, recognizing defectors are the children of colony families. Others, however, impose fewer restriction, keeping the door open for a possible return. Colonies have survived by bending but not breaking rules, Lehr and Katz say. Defections, in combination with a dramatic drop in Hutterite birthrates, have raised the anxiety level among colony leaders. That is, however, another area of drastic change.

As more colonies move into manufacturing, workforce requirements are leading to population increases; depending on individual economies, the traditional "optimum" size could grow to or more residents, some speculate. The average family size today is four to six children. Lena Hofer cradles her grandson Christopher while interacting with some of the young people at their James Valley Hutterite Colony home. And Hutterite women are marrying at an average age of 24, about four years later than they did a generation ago. Scholars have documented more than different religious communes that once existed in the United States, some of which were instrumental in helping Hutterites get settled.

Hutterite leaders first travelled to North America in a delegation that included Mennonite leadership. Mennonites chose Manitoba, but the Hutterites preferred South Dakota. All the Hutterites in Europe migrated, although about half were non-communal, who were eventually absorbed into Mennonite congregations. They drafted a constitution and chose the name Amana from the Song of Solomon and, in the spirit of communal living, shared their property.

They existed for more than years. The Amana colonies abandoned communal practices in during the Depression, and it was then that the community began manufacturing freezers. The seven colonies are now attractions. The town is built in German-style architecture, like Europe. The flour mill at Huron Colony is seen in This mill supplied flour not only for the Hutterite community but for the neighbourhood. Learning the Hutterite way begins at an early age. From business practices to clothing to seemingly archaic regulations, there are many unique aspects of Hutterite life.

From business practices to clothing to seemingly archaic regulations, there are many unique aspects of Hutterite life:. True, but the colony cares for its members from cradle to grave, Johnny Hofer says. It pays for their accommodations and food and provides spending money. Another issue is monetary compensation when a person leaves a colony. The people leaving have helped build the equity of the Hutterite colony, after all. Of course, people may argue they signed the documents under duress and had no choice.

This is how the colony looked driving up.

Where members were evicted, courts have sided with the colonies so far. Colonies have taken that as a warning to assist departing members because the courts may side differently next time. One description of when Hutterites were still in Europe said one could identify Hutterites by watching them eat: When we think of Hutterites in Manitoba we think of black.

The reason black came to dominate Hutterite attire is that at one time black cloth was regarded as church cloth and was therefore tax deductible.


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In Alberta, a wide-brimmed black hat is worn, like what Amish people wear, but Alberta colonies are more conservative. Hutterites have many regulations, and many are deemed archaic, such as the ban on bicycles. This was proposed by colonies near cities or towns for fear members would ride off to town for a night. It was then adopted by all colonies. Many colonies like James Valley continue the bicycle ban while other colonies, particularly Group 1s, have repealed the rule. Wearing suspenders instead of belts is another old rule.

Belt buckles were becoming bigger and ostentatious so belts were banned on all colonies. It gets a lot of use as young people thumb through the book whenever potential romances surface. The farther apart the couple is regarding family relationships, the better. Even though marriage between first cousins is legal in Canada, Hutterites forbid such unions due to fears of genetic defects. Some colonies are even forbidding marriage between second cousins, said Johnny Hofer. Hutterites can be bracingly blunt, which you can either find rude or refreshing, depending on your take. The latter two groups are found in Alberta and Saskatchewan; Alberta has the most colonies in North America.

The differences can be large. But Manitoba colonies allow fridges. No Hutterite group allows stoves in homes because everyone eats communally. However, many Manitoba homes have microwaves. Horse stables served as housing units for the Hutterite families who arrived in Manitoba en mass This photo shows the horse stable at the Huron Colony in The Lehrerleut also spurn higher education. Many colonies still view a Grade 8 education as sufficient. He was accused of violating the constitution by trying to force changes undemocratically.

There were court cases. Family members took sides. After the split, "the liberal Hutterites became more liberal, and the conservative more conservative," says James Valley teacher Johnny Hofer. It was a nice balance. The duck yard at the Huron Colony at Bernard, Man. Jacob Kleinsasser died last year at the age of His successor, bishop Arnold Hofer of the Acadia colony near Carberry, has made conciliatory overtures to his conservative counterpart.

Each houses four families. All five settled in the RM of Cartier, just west of Winnipeg. Today, Cartier has 11 colonies, the highest concentration in Canada. Before their arrival, the association for Manitoba municipalities sent out a circular warning that some people with a different culture and lifestyle would be arriving. By , the RM of Cartier sent out a separate statement saying its experience with the newcomers had been nothing but positive. The document said Hutterites are hard-working, very moral and trustworthy, but they liked to stick to themselves.

Cartier may have been trying to mollify opposition, led by the Great War Veterans Association, which likened Hutterite pacifism to "complicity" with the enemy and a betrayal of Canadian values. Hutterites speak a German dialect from Austria commonly called Hutterisch. The GWVA went so far as to threaten to picket the border at Emerson and physically block the pacifists from entering. They called on their elected representatives to evict any Hutterites who entered and promised to work to oust politicians who supported their immigration.

The Canadian government rushed through as many Hutterites as it could because it desperately wanted the Prairies settled with farmers. About two-thirds of the Hutterites from South Dakota made it across into Canada before the federal Privy Council gave in to public pressure and passed legislation restricting the flow. Fred Kleinsasser at a Niverville Fair and Parade, date unknown.

Private Crystal Spring Archive. There is a standardized part of the prayer, followed by a personalized part. Prayers are also said before and after each meal, once to say "please" and once to say "thank you. The church is a nondescript building that could, from the outside, be mistaken for a community centre or dance hall. The walls are bare, without religious imagery or motifs, because Anabaptists believe nothing should distract from the word of God. There are small, rectangular windows high up on the walls.

The glass is partly concealed behind wide, airy vertical blinds. It has padded benches and is immaculately clean. That can sound redundant on a Hutterite colony as everything is spotless. Members congregate in the evening for a half-hour service — 10 minutes for singing, 15 minutes for reading, and five minutes for prayer.

Some colonies have scaled back evening services to only a couple times a week. Confession follows the Saturday evening service. The James Valley church has capacity for people. A branch is being built near Foxwarren in western Manitoba. The aim is to build a new colony and split equity from the old colony, so relocated members have the same standard of living they had before. James Valley is no different. Blocking access to the outside world may keep some from defecting. Others may be motivated to leave because of the isolation. On James Valley, a Group 2 Schmiedeleut colony, there are about 30 computers in the school and on business worksites.

There is a single, overwhelmed public-access computer at the phone book production facility. The concern, says James Valley colony manager Edward Hofer, is the effect on home life. Edward has a cellphone but he can only take phone calls or text with it. The colony is currently experimenting with a filter that would allow members to use smartphones, he says.

Agathe, permits home computers and many people have smartphones. Maendel is also author of the book Hutterite Diaries.


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  4. A century ago, Hutterite colonies nearly sided with the decision by Amish people to stick to the horse and buggy, he says. We decided first to go with the telephone, and then the automobile. Crystal Springs school teacher and historian Ian Kleinsasser helps his elementary school students work in his computer-equipped classroom in Crystal Springs. For that reason, we need the internet," he says. Conservative groups believe the openness at Crystal Spring will surely result in more defections. Yet orthodox colonies in Alberta are experiencing the greatest exodus.

    Young men are leaving in droves to work in the oil patch. As a consequence, the ratio of women to men on some Alberta colonies is said to have reached crisis proportions. Lehrerleut women have had to take on traditionally male jobs. No one can say how much the exodus in Alberta colonies can be blamed on the digital world. The money that can be earned in the oil patch is certainly a factor.

    The women work from ages 17 to 45, then take early retirement. The age 45 cutoff is a throwback to a century ago when women still had family sizes in the double digits and shorter lifespans. In addition, two women work as kitchen assistants, rotating through the helper positions in two-week stints. That is followed by another two-week stint in the bake house down the hall.

    As in church, women are on one side of the room and men on the other. Laundry is the responsibility of colony women. Washing machines are forbidden inside homes; each family gets two time slots per week at the communal laundromat. The times change on a rotating basis so no one is unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged. As is the norm with nearly everything purchased for a colony, she buys in bulk.

    About 75 per cent of marriages are between people from different colonies. Thelma, for example, is from the Souris River Colony. Even the female position of head cook is voted on by men. A group of James Valley women collectively shrug and say they tell their husbands how to vote. And she is emphatic in her belief that a woman should not run a country. Nellie McClung would surely put her head in her hands and start to weep. But Thelma — young, intelligent and serious-minded; someone who would likely succeed on or off the colony — has no frame of reference, never having seen a woman in a leadership role.

    Melissa Hofer removes cooked chicken from a huge soup pot at the James Valley Hutterite Colony community kitchen. And things are changing. About 70 out of more than 80 university-trained Hutterite teachers are female. Thelma has a special-needs son and she is fiercely devoted to him. And no one is selfish. All the pressures you face in the outside world we have internally.

    The process by which a colony splits to create a new daughter colony varies across the branches of colonies. In Lehrerleut, this process is quite structured, while in Darius and Schmiedeleut the process can be somewhat less structured. In a Lehrerleut colony, the land will be purchased and buildings actually constructed before anyone in the colony knows who will be relocating to the daughter colony location. The final decision as to who leaves and who stays will not be made until everything is ready at the new location. During the construction process, the colony leadership splits the colony up as evenly as possible, creating two separate groups of families.

    The two groups are made as close as possible to equal in size, taking into account the practical limits of family unit sizes in each group. Additionally, the leadership must split the business operations as evenly as possible. This means deciding which colony might take on, for example, either hog farming or dairy. Colony members are given a chance to voice concerns about which group a family is assigned to, but at some point, a final decision is made. This process can be very difficult and stressful for a colony, as many political and family dynamics become topics of discussion, and not everyone will be happy about the process or its results.

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    Once all decisions have been made, the two groups might be identified as "Group A" and "Group B". The minister will pray, asking for God's choice of the paper drawn from the hat, and will draw one piece of paper.

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    The name drawn will indicate which group is leaving for the daughter colony. Within hours, the daughter colony begins the process of settling a brand new site. This very structured procedure differs dramatically from the one that might be used at some Darius and Schmiedeleut colonies, where the split can sometimes be staggered over time, with only small groups of people moving to the new location at a time.

    Hutterite colonies often own large tracts of land and, since they function as a collective unit, can make or afford higher quality equipment than if they were working alone. An increasing number of Hutterite colonies are again venturing into the manufacturing sector, a change that is reminiscent of an early period of Hutterite life in Europe. Before the Hutterites emigrated to North America, they relied on manufacturing to sustain their communities.

    It was only in Russia that the Hutterites learned to farm from the Mennonites. Because of the increasing automation of farming large equipment, GPS-controlled seeding, spraying, etc. Many colonies that have gone into manufacturing believe they need to provide their members with a higher level of education. A major driving force for Hutterite leadership today is the recognition that land prices have risen dramatically in Alberta and Saskatchewan because of the oil and gas industry, [42] thus creating the need for a greater amount of cash to buy land when it comes time for a colony to split.

    The splitting process requires the purchase of land and the construction of buildings.

    Prairie ritual: Spring branding on the Pincher Creek Hutterite Colony

    This massive cash requirement has forced leadership to re-evaluate how a colony can produce the necessary funds. New projects have included plastics manufacturing, metal fabrication, cabinetry, and stone or granite forming, to name a few. One unique project came together in South Dakota. A group of 44 colonies joined to create a turkey processing center where their poultry can be processed. The plant hired non-Hutterite staff to process the poultry for market.

    This plant helped to secure demand for the colonies' poultry. Hutterites do not shun modern technology, but may limit some uses of it.

    Hutterites

    They attempt to remove themselves from the outside world televisions — and in some cases the internet — are banned , and up until recently, many of the Lehrerleut and Dariusleut Alberta colonies still only had one central phone. The Schmiedeleut had made this transition earlier, where each household had a telephone along with a central phone for the colony business operation.

    Phones are used for both business and social purposes. Cell phones are also very common among all three groups today. Text messaging has made cell phones particularly useful for Hutterian young people wishing to keep in touch with their peers. Most Hutterite homes have computers and radios; a minority of communities mostly, liberal Schmiedeleut colonies have Internet access.

    Farming equipment technology generally matches or exceeds that of non-Hutterite farmers. Lehrerleut colonies have recently struggled with the proliferation of computers and have clamped down so that computers are no longer allowed in households and their use is limited to only business and farming operations including animal, feed and crop management. But as the world evolves more and technology is used more and more for work and communication, many Hutterite young people use computers, photos, and the internet for keeping in contact with their friends, relatives and meeting new people outside the colony.

    Rather than send their children to an outside school, Hutterites build a schoolhouse at the colony to fulfill the educational agreement with the province or state. The school is typically run by a hired "outside" teacher who teaches the basics including English. In some Schmiedeleut schools, teachers are chosen from the colony. The "German" education of colony children is the responsibility of the "Assistant Minister" at some colonies, but most colonies elect a "German Teacher", who in most cases also takes care of the colony garden.

    The German Teacher will cooperate with the outside teacher with regard to scheduling and planning. Some Hutterite colonies are allowed to send their children to public school as the parents see fit, but in some cases it is customary to remove them from school entirely in 8th grade or at the age of 15; however, many colonies offer them a full grade 12 diploma and in some cases a university degree. Public school in these instances is seen as a luxury and children are sometimes made to miss days of school in favor of duties at the colony.

    In a few rare cases, allowing a child to continue attending school past this limit can result in punishment of the parents, including shunning and removal from the church. Three different branches of Hutterites live in the prairies of North America: Though all three "leut" are Hutterites, there are some distinctive differences, including style of dress and organizational structure. The differences are mostly traditional and geographic.

    There are two other related groups. The Arnoldleut—also referred to as the Bruderhof Communities or currently, Church Communities International [45] —is a group of more recent origin which, prior to , were accepted by the Dariusleut and Lehrerleut groups as a part of the Hutterite community. The Schmiedeleut were divided over the issue.

    One group is called the 'oilers', because of an issue over an oil well. The other is the Prairieleut — Hutterites that lived in separate households rather than in colonies after settling on the American prairies. Most of the Prairieleut eventually united with the Mennonites. This highly acrimonious division has cut across family lines and remains a serious matter almost two decades later.

    Group One colonies generally have relatively more liberal positions on issues including higher education, ecumenical and missions work, musical instruments, media, and technology. Alberta Hutterites initially won the right not to have their photographs taken for their drivers' licenses. In May , the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that the photograph requirement violates their religious rights and that driving was essential to their way of life.

    Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony that a Hutterite community must abide by provincial rules that make a digital photo mandatory for all new driver's licenses as a way to prevent identity theft. Despite this animosity towards photography, there are photographs of Hutterites which were evidently done with their consent and co-operation. In particular, from —, Chicago photographer Mary Koga went to rural Alberta to work on her series The Hutterites.

    Her images show the members of the community with great openness, sympathy and a touch of humor. In contrast to the uniformly plain look of the Amish and Old Order Mennonites, Hutterite clothing can be vividly colored, especially on children, although many Hutterites do wear plain dress. Shoes were homemade in the past but are now mostly store-bought.

    Men's jackets and pants are usually black. Generally the men's shirts are button-up shirts with long sleeves and collars, and they may wear undershirts. Men's pants are not held in place by belts, but rather by black suspenders. These pants are also distinctive by their lack of back pockets. Women and girls wear a dress with a blouse underneath. Most Lehrerleut and Dariusleut also wear a kerchief-style Christian headcovering which is usually black with white polka dots.

    The Schmiedleut also wear a kerchief-style head cover, but without the dots. The polka dots tells which branch the women belong to. Young girls wear a bright, colorful cap that fastens under the chin. Church garb is generally dark for both men and women. The clothing worn for church consists of a plain jacket for both genders and a black apron for women.

    Men's church hats are always dark and usually black. Just as the Amish and Old Order Mennonites often use Pennsylvania German , the Hutterites have preserved and use among themselves a distinct dialect of German known as Hutterite German , or Hutterisch. Originally mainly based on a Tyrolean dialect from the south-central German-speaking Europe from which many of them sprang in the 16th century, Hutterisch has taken on a Carinthian base because of their history: In the years —, a small group of surviving Hutterites in Transylvania were joined by a larger group of Lutheran forced migrants from Carinthia , the so-called Transylvanian Landler.

    Eventually, this led to the replacement of the Hutterites' Tyrolean dialect with the Carinthian dialect. The Amish and Hutterite German dialects are not generally mutually intelligible because the dialects originate from regions that are several hundred kilometers apart. In their religious exercises, Hutterites use a classic Lutheran German. The very high birth rate among the Hutterites has decreased dramatically since , [53] as they have dropped from around ten children per family in to under five in and even lower in the years since then.

    While Hutterite women traditionally married around the ages of 20 or 21, marriage in the 21st century very often is delayed until the late 20s. Whereas Hutterite women traditionally had children until their mid 40s, today most Hutterite woman have their last child around the age of As part of their Anabaptist teachings of nonresistance, Hutterites have historically avoided getting involved in litigation within the secular justice system.

    Thus, it is evident that a Christian can neither go to court nor be a judge. Consistent with their beliefs, records do not indicate any litigation initiated by the Hutterites up to the twentieth century. However, in their more recent history in North America some Hutterite conflicts have emerged in court litigations. Several cases involved the Hutterite Colony defending their religious lifestyle against the government. Montana Department of Labor and Industry , forced the Hutterites to participate in the state's workers compensation system despite the Hutterites religious objections.

    The willingness of the colonies to take matters to secular courts has also resulted in internal religious disputes being brought before the court. Two of these cases have come by appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada: Hofer and Lakeside Colony of Hutterian Brethren v. Hofer involved several expelled members of the Interlake Colony in Manitoba who sought a share of the communal property. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that according to the religious tenets of the Hutterites the Hutterites have no individual property and therefore the former members cannot be entitled to a share of the Hutterite colony goods.

    In the case of Lakeside Colony of Hutterian Brethren v. Hofer , Daniel Hofer Sr. The igniting issue focused on who owned the rights to a patented hog feeder. The Board of Managers of the Colony had ruled that Hofer did not own the patent of the hog feeder in question and should stop producing the item. Hofer refused to submit to what he considered an injustice and also refused to obey the colony's order of expulsion.

    In response Jacob Kleinsasser of Crystal Spring Colony, elder of the Schmiedleut group of Hutterites, tried to use the state to enforce the expulsion order. Hofer also lost his first appeal but finally won on an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada who overturned the expulsion. When some members of The Nine sued their former colony in Manitoba in over lost wages and injuries the case was never even heard in court. In the United States judges have repeatedly dismissed cases that were brought against the colony by colony members or former members.

    Such cases include Wollma, et al. Poinsett Hutterian Brethren, Inc. Ayers Ranch Colony in Montana. More recently in North Dakota , a case was brought by some of The Nine against Forest River Colony and was again dismissed by a judge in March , ruling that the courts did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the case. In the last years several subgroups of Hutterites emerged. When the Hutterites migrated to the United States in and the following years there was a division between those who settled on colonies and lived with community of goods and those who settled on private farms according to the conditions of the Homestead Act of The homesteaders were called Prairieleut , while the ones who settled on the three communal colonies developed into three branches: Schmiedeleut , Dariusleut and Lehrerleut.

    In the s the Schmiedeleut spilt into two subgroups. Starting in three Hutterite colonies separated from their original "Leut" affiliation and became independent. For these three colonies spiritual renewal became a major concern. One of them, Elmendorf branched out two times, so that there are now five colonies of that kind, that cooperate closely, thus forming a new affiliation of Hutterite Christian Communities.

    The mid location and number of the world's Hutterite colonies: In the Kung Fu episode "The Hoots" December 13, , the sheepherder members of a Hutterite religious sect offer no resistance to persecution by bigoted cattlemen, until they learn from Kwai Chang Caine that, like the chameleon, they can change and yet remain the same in the American Southwest. The Hutterites [68] was a Through the kindness of a Hutterite colony in Alberta, this film, in black and white, was made inside the community and shows all aspects of the Hutterites' daily life.

    On May 29, , the first episode of American Colony: Meet the Hutterites aired on the National Geographic Channel. Immediately after the first airing, many Hutterites began to complain that the show did not represent a true picture of typical colony life and ended up being a reality show or "soap opera" rather than a documentary. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. March Learn how and when to remove this template message.

    This section needs additional citations for verification. May Learn how and when to remove this template message. Hutter was important because he was a fearless, effective leader and because he established the Hutterite colonies on the basis of the Schleitheim Confession, a classic Anabaptist statement of faith. Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center.


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    The essential beliefs and practices of the Hutterites are embodied in the Schleitheim Confession of Faith. Thus, in addition to a set of community rules for Christian living and the principle of worldly separation, the Hutterites, in accordance with the Schleitheim Articles, subscribe to the faith baptism of sin-conscious adults; the universal spiritual church of believers; the complete separation of church and state; pacifism and the refusal to bear arms; and the rejection of oaths of allegiance. Religious Conscience, the State, and the Law: Historical Contexts and Contemporary Significance.

    The Hutterites are an Anabaptist group founded in in Moravia.

    Hutterites - Wikipedia

    The Baptist Story , Nashville, , p. Hutterite Society , Baltimore , pages 10— Hutterite Society , Baltimore , page Hutterite Society , Baltimore , page 8. Hutterite Society , Baltimore , pages 17— Hutterite Society , Baltimore , pages Hutterite Society , Baltimore , pages 72— The Hutterian Brethren Forgotten Anabaptists, Hanover, NH, Faith and Life Press. The Courts and the Colonies.