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Mennonites en France - 1900 Texte en langue anglaise

The Mennonite
Quakertown, Pa., December, 1900

Do You Know It ?
There are Mennonites in France !

At the Pfalz-Hessen Mennonite conference last April, it was my good fortune to meet Rev. Pierre Sommer of Herbeviller, France (near Blamont). When Mr. Sommer left he gave me a warm invitation to visit with them should opportunity present itself. In response I stopped there, on my way from Paris to Strassburg, in September, and spent two agreeable days with them. My knowledge concerning our Brethren in France was very limited, and finding Rev. Sommer not only well informed, but moved by a lively interest for his denomination. I suggested to him that he write an article on the French Mennonites and give it to me to translate and send to our Church Paper in America. This he kindly consented to do, and knowing that it will be received with interest I take pleasure in forwarding the article for publication.
Rev. Mr. Sommer writes:
The Mennonites in France.
As to origin and present geographical location, the French Mennonite Churches* form two groups.
One of these, composed of four congregations, is located near the Swiss boundry in the region of Montbeliard and Belfort. These are descendants of Swiss fugitives, who settled here in the early years of the 18th century.
The other group embraces seven congregations which are scattered broad-cast about Nancy, Epinal and Chaumont. These also were originally from Switzerland. But they went from there to Alsace and the Vosges, and thence, at a later period, crossed over into France. Besides these there are separate families living in larger cities, but isolated from their Brethren.
The Mennonites here long retained their Germanic character. Even to-day the German language is rather extensively used among them, and in several churches the services are still conducted in German, though many do not understand that language at all. As the individual churches were wholly surrounded by French Catholics, and without parochial schools, the German language was necessarily lost. With it unfortunately, spiritual life began to wane and to be superseded by cold formalism, indifference or worldliness.
These eleven churches, with a membership of about 1100, are now facing dissolution, unless, by special grace, God see fit to preserve them. The greatest hindrance is their endless dispersion. There are churches some of whose members live 60 miles apart. The monthly or semi-monthly meetings, conducted by Elders and Preachers elected by the respective congregations, are usually held alternately at the homes of the various families.
Still in almost all of these churches there are men to whom Christ is a personal Saviour, and who preach the Word, pray and labor with living faith. These, of late especially, feel the need of closer acquaintance among themselves, and of co-operation in pursuit of their common goal. Hence they form the nucleus, if they remain faithful, whence through the Grace of God, will issue light and life for the Mennonite churches and the community where active Evangelization is sorely needed.
Translated by C. E. Krehbiel
Berlin, October 1900

*) They belong to the so-called Amish Mennonites.

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