ANABAPTIST - HUTTERITE
The Hutterites are a peaceful and industrious agrarian
Anabaptist sect founded by Jacob Hutter in Tyrol during the
The Hutterites are the Austrian branch of the
Anabaptist movement of the 16th century. They are
characterized by the practice of community of goods
that first began in Moravia in 1529 and was strengthened by Hutter in 1533
The religion goes back to the time of Jesus’
disciples, and is based on the New Testament and the
life and teaching of Jesus Christ. The Hutterites split from
the mainstream religion during the Reformation.
Although their leaders (Grebel, Manz and
Blaurock) were executed, Anabaptists continued to gather
forces. The movement spread to Austria and Germany.
When persecution began in Austria, they fled to Morvavia
(part of Czechoslovakia today). For the Anabaptists, it was
the Promised Land and many Anabaptists arrived from
Tyrol, Germany and Switzerland. In 1528, the community of
goods was started again. Leaders sprang up and Jacob Hutter
became the chief elder.
WORLD RELIGIONS COMPARED
Hutterites are pacifists who take no part in politics and remain
separate from outside society. In the 16th century, most Anabaptists were simple people
who had little or no schooling, they believed "literally" everything
Jesus said in the Bible. Because of the perceived ignorance, Hutter
purposely started Bible training centers with communal
living in order to educate and equip preachers to travel
in pairs and spread the word. Most were executed along the way.
Hutterite life was not easy, for in 1535 they were
heavily persecuted, but they remained strong in their faith
and beliefs. Hutter was tortured and burned at the stake in
While some were in imprisoned they wrote great books,
beautiful hymns and sermons, which the Hutterites still,
read and sing today. Peter Ridemann wrote
Confession of Faith while in prison. He wrote on matters
such as baptism, the Lord’s Supper, prayer, singing, the
Christian and war, dress and adornment.
After the persecution in Moravia
and the Tyrol, they moved eastward to Hungary and the Ukraine.
Between the years 1551-1552, persecution eased and they were all
allowed back in their Moravian colonies. These were the good years.
From 1565 to 1592 were considered the Golden Years. They had
great leadership and the brotherhood grew.
Hutterites were well liked and had a good reputation as skilled
craftsman and reliable workers but their trades were limited.
Because they were pacifists, they made no swords, spears or guns.
Tailoring was permitted, only to some extent, since it could create
pride and vanity. Many, however, were medical doctors and were great
demand by non-Hutterites.
The Turkish War and the Thirty Years War were not easy
times for the Hutterites. They had to keep moving. They moved from
one country to another as they were expelled they had to move on.
Finally they migrated to Russia and settled in Ukraine.
In 1864, after Russian policies changed (due to Communism), many emigrated to the U.S. and settled in South Dakota.
During WWI the majority of Hutterites migrated to Canada because
they were worried they would be enlisted in the war if they stayed
in the States. True to their transitory nature, however, some did
eventually return to the U.S.
They now live in large farming communities in Western Canada and the
U.S., maintaining traditional dress and customs, but embracing the
most advanced farming techniques. The colonies commonly have 60–150 members who
all work together on collective farms. Their most important farming
contribution has been the Hutterite Bean which is an heirloom
bean that was brought to the U.S. around 1760 and can be grown
easily in cold climates.
In the U.S., the Hutterites settled in North and South
Dakota, Montana, Washington. In Canada they settled in British
Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Since 1930 many new
colonies have started in New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
There are also colonies abroad in Japan and England. The newer
colonies (except the one in Japan) manufacture wooden toys, since
there is no farming in some areas, however some do farm.
There are about a total of 23,000 Hutterites in about 300 Colonies
today. Customs and dress may vary among these colonies, but the
religion and beliefs are the same.
And all the believed were together
and had all things in common.
They sold their possessions and goods parted them to all men,
as every man had need.