Dr. Astrid von Schlachta
Historian and director of the Mennonitische Forschungsstelle [Mennonite Research Centre] in Weierhof; lecturer at the University of Regensburg. For nearly her entire academic life, von Schlachta has been researching the Anabaptists, with particular emphasis on the Hutterites. Her dissertation concentrated on the Hutterites of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Her most recent book, Täufer: Von der Reformation ins 21. Jahrhundert [Anabaptists: From the Reformation to the 21st Century] will be released in June 2020. Astrid von Schlachta is also president of the Mennonitische Geschichtsverein [Mennonite Historical Society, Germany] and the 500 Jahre Täuferbewegung 2025 Society that is preparing to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Anabaptist Movement in 2025.
"Do we Dare‽ Examining the Past for the Sake of the Future”
Historical Accounts of Tradition and Renewal for Today
The second installment of the Jacob D. Maendel Lecture Series will be a four-part journey through the nearly-500-year history of the Hutterite movement. Questions about the implications of tradition versus renewal in the various historical periods will be the primary focus. We will examine examples where a glimpse into the past propelled the Hutterites forward, but also see instances where firmly clinging to traditions hindered community life.
The following questions will guide each lecture: How and when did Hutterites of the past debate tradition and renewal? How did political and social conditions affect Hutterite life and their faith foundations? And what does this account of history have to teach us today about what it means to be a vibrant church that cherishes its past and traditions, while at the same time constantly reflecting on how and where renewal is needed?
Lecture 1: “It is only with good order that something can endure…”?
Saturday, June 6, 2020; 1-2:30 pm (CDT)
Sixteenth-century Hutterites developed a very complex and detailed system of regulations governing the spiritual, personal, and social aspects of life. However, as the 16th-century progressed, it became clear that the prosperity and the economic success of the community greatly strained the Hutterites' confessional foundations, especially their commitment to community-of–goods. To what extent was the external system of regulations an integral part of Hutterite faith? What is the relationship between Ordnungen and faith today?
The first lecture can be viewed on YouTube.
Lecture 2: “Test everything and hold fast to what is good.”
Saturday, June 13, 2020 1-2:30 pm (CDT)
In the late 17th and 18th-century, the Hutterite movement suffered a severe crisis. Community-of-goods was abandoned and the community would not have survived if transmigrants from Carinthia had not inspired its revival. Growing contacts with representatives of Pietism introduced new ideas for the spiritual life of the community. What role did the old Hutterite traditions play and how did they affect this spiritual renewal? Where are traditions a blessing and where are they a hindrance/burden today?
The second lecture can be watched here.
Lecture 3: “How can we accept a government authority among us?”
Saturday, June 20, 2020; 1-2:30 pm (CDT)
After Hutterites emigrated to the Molotschna, they were called upon to assume political positions. This led to significant tensions within the community, with some Hutterites rejecting these new political arrangements, while others were willing to submit to them. The revival of community-of-goods further divided the Hutterite community. How were historical arguments employed in these controversies? What place do politics have in Hutterite life today?
The third lecture can be watched here.
Lecture 4: “We do not wish nor desire to do harm or evil to any man.”
Saturday, June 27, 2020; 1-2:30 pm (CDT)
In the 19th-century, convictions regarding defenselessness once again became a pressing matter of conscience for Hutterites. The departure from Russia to the United States was motivated by this issue, and during WWI two Hutterite brothers died of inhumane treatment in prison because they refused to participate in military service. At the same time, however, some Hutterites enlisted and did not shy away from taking up arms. What is the significance of nonresistance in Hutterite history? What counts as nonresistance today?
The fourth lecture can be watched here.