Mennonite mutual aid and the concept of social welfare : a case study of the Bergthaler Waisenamt and the co-operative movement in the Rhineland Municipality

Thumbnail Image
Hildebrand, Hilda Anne
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This study is an endeavour to understand the notion of Mennonite welfare and to examine whether the traditional value of meeting needs through mutual aid remained fundamentally intact for the Mennonites who emigrated from Russia during the 1870's to settle in the area known as the Municipality of Rhineland in Manitoba. The origin and development of Mennonite mutual aid is traced as a means of determining how Mennonites defined need and the subsequent welfare institutions that they developed to meet their socially recognized needs. To gain a greater insight into their definition of need, Mishra's model of welfare is applied. Several environmental factors are identified as having a significant impact on the methods whereby the community was able to organize itself, thus ultimately affecting the manner in which the practice of mutual aid could manifest itself. The case studies explore whether the institutions developed congruently with a traditional ethic of shared responsibility or whether the institutions reflect a fundamental shift in the Mennonite philosophy of meeting needs. The author concludes that the Mennonites living in the Rhineland Municipality retained the essence of their value of meeting needs through mutual aid and that their ethic of shared responsibility remained intact until at least 1945.