A history of the Chortitzer Mennonite Church of Manitoba, 1874-1914

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Stoesz, Dennis.
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This study examines the Chortitzer Mennonite Church from the time of the emigration of most of its members from the Bergthal Colony, Russia to the East Reserve, Manitoba in 1874-76 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914. It first responded to the establishment of several sister and satellite communities in the West Reserve, Manitoba, and in Minnesota, North Dakota and Saskatchewan. The church further outlined its boundaries through its worship centres on the East Reserve, called meetingplaces. The Ministerial's involvement in various economic, social and political organizations led it to reflect on its role in the community and its adaptation to the Canadian setting: these involvements included borrowing large sums of money from its Swiss brethren and the Canadian government, maintaining schools for the community, and cooperating with the municipal government. A review of the religious leaders helped define the major periods of change and continuity of the church. The ministers were also forced to make some doctrinal decisions as various evangelical and conservative influences were exerted on the community. The theological position of the church was more fully defined by its use of several religious books and its interpretation of some common Mennonite tenets of faith. Religious boundaries became clearer as a result of these struggles and geographic and ethnic definitions of the Chortitzer community declined. The result was a sharper denominational identity of the Chortitzer Mennonite Church by 1914.