May 25, 2010


Have you ever heard of Hutterites? I had never until my mother in law brought me this fascinating book called The Hutterites of Montana. After flipping through the pages I became mesmerized and wanted to know so much more about this fascinating group of people. The Hutterite people are a communal religious group who live in colonies and seek to actively separate themselves from the influence of the outside world. They are often mistaken for being unsocial because they live in isolated communities that adhere to the admonition of “be ye in the world but not of the world.” The basis of their simple and communal lifestyle is derived from the biblical teachings of the early church and the example set by Christ and His apostles. In 1528 their leader, Jacob Hutter, took a stand on adult baptism and pacifism for which he was burned at the stake. The Hutterites suffered extreme persecution at the hands of the early church and government of the day which led them to flee across Europe and, in 1874, come to North America. Today there about 45,000 Hutterites living on more than 400 colonies in the United States and Canada.

Linked by their Anabaptist roots to the Amish and Mennonites, what sets the Hutterites apart is the common ownership of goods. It has distinguished them as the finest example of community life in the modern world. Every member has a role to play and is considered a valuable part of the community. No one is paid a wage, but each is entitled to have their needs met from the cradle to the grave. The families work, eat and worship together every day. Daily services are led by the colony minister who is also the head or CEO of the community.
Contrary to their appearance, which has changed little since their beginnings as European peasants from the 16th century, the Hutterites have always embraced the most modern farm machinery and methods available on the market. The men wear black pants, jackets and hats and grow beards once they are married. The women wear a long 5-piece ensemble and are distinguished by their polka dot head scarves.
I was at Barnes & Noble on the weekend with my sister in law and came across the book "I Am Hutterite" by Mary Anne Kirkby. It is a fascinating memoir of a young girl’s life growing up in a Hutterite community, her family’s exit from the colony and her on-going journey to understand herself and her heritage. I am excited to read this book and to learn more about the simple lifestyle of this fascinating christian group. 

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