Ministers' Manuals, handbooks or service manuals for ministers, usually containing forms and instructions for administration of the ordinances of baptism, communion, and feetwashing, and for ordination, reception, discipline, and dismissal or transfer of members, order of service in worship, and other items of service to ministers in the performance of the duties of their office. Sometimes prayers for various occasions are included. Among German-speaking European and American Mennonites such manuals have been given various names: Formularbuch (Palatinate), Leitfaden (Baden), Handbuch für Prediger (Russia and North America).
The history of ministers' manuals among Anabaptist-Mennonites begins with Balthasar Hubmaier's two pamphlets of 1527, Eine Form zu taufen and Eine Form des Nachtmahls Christi. The Hutterian Brethren also had manuscripts prescribing the ritual for the ordinances; Peter Riedemann's Rechenschaft of 1545 contains a "Taufordnung." Beck's Geschichts-Bucher (pp. 648-50) reprints from the original codices several forms: "Des Tauffens weis, oder wie man tauffen soll" (1561); "Vom Abentmal Christi" (1529-56); "Form des Nachtmals Christi" (1561); "Vom Bann oder Ausschluss und Wiederaufnehmen" (1529-65).
The oldest known printed manual is probably the one found as an appendix to the second edition of a book by Ian Gerritsz van Emden (Amsterdam, 1650), Drie Evangelische Predicatien, , . . daar in zeer leerelyk aangeweezen, en verklaard word hunne maniere van Doop, en Avondmal, de Reden, en Woorden, die zy gebruiken in deeze Heilige Handelinge, en Godsdienst. . . . Hier achter volgen Eenige stichtelyke Gebeden, en Meditatien, dewlke mede ter Zee gebruikt kunnen worden. Schijn-Maatschoen (Geschiedenis III, 58-75) reprints most of the manual material. This manual was translated into German by Elder Jakob Siebert of the Thiensdorf congregation in West Prussia and printed there in 1800 under the title Drei geistreiche Predigten .... It was used by the Rudnerweide and Kronsweide congregations in Russia (reported by Friesen, Brüderschaft, 82). It contained a manual or order of worship consisting of three sermons, articles of faith, information regarding baptism, the Lord's Supper, Christian doctrines, the election and installation of deacons, ministers, and elders, the marriage ceremony, excommunication, reception of repentant members, feetwashing, etc. Elder Franz Goerz of the Rudnerweide Mennonite Church in Russia still used this manual.
It is likely that this manual was in use in many congregations in handwritten form. The Mennonite Library and Archives (North Newton, Kansas) has an old copy of this "Formularbuch" formerly in use by the Michalin Mennonite Church, Poland, which has a preface by Johann Siebert in which he states that this book was translated from the Dutch by his father, Jakob Siebert, and that the sermons dated back to the days of Menno Simons. Gerardus Maatschoen (Geschiedenis III, 58-75) assumes that Hans de Ries, the noted Waterlander preacher, was the author of these sermons. The Michalin copy consists of a sermon preceding the articles of faith, the articles of faith; a sermon preceding the baptismal sermon, the baptismal sermon; the sermon preceding the Lord's Supper, the sermon at the Lord's Supper; about the election of ministers, deacons, and elders; about excommunication, the acceptance of excommunicated members, and a marriage ceremony,
J. C. Jehring, in his Gründliche Historie (Jena, 1720, pp. 264-274), published a Formular so bei Einsetzung und Ordination der Lehrer und Aeltesten unter den Mennoniten gebräuchlich ist. Aufgesetzet von Abraham Dircks, gewesenem Lehrer und Aeltesten der Taufgesinneten Gemeine zu Amsterdam, which he took from Part III of a Dutch hymnal of the Flemish at Altona (De CL. Psalmen, Hamburg, 1685; first ed., Amsterdam, 1652), titled Het deerde Deel, vervattende de Belydenisse des Gheloofs met de voornaemste zeden, wetten, kerkelycke Ordre en discipline in de Christelycke Gemeynte. Dircks, he says, lived ca. 1626.
An interesting report on the forms for baptism and communion used in the Old Flemish (Jan-Jacobsgezinden) Church on the island of Ameland, Holland, written by the Old Flemish preacher C. P. Sorgdrager apparently in the late 18th century, is described in Mennonitische Blatter for 1913 (p. 75), in the article "Kirchliche Gebräuche bei den alten Flamingern auf der holländischen Insel Ameland um 1800." This manuscript was, however, not printed as a ministers' manual. Sorgdrager did publish Vragen aan de Dopelingen met derselver antwoorden.
The only regular ministers' manual published in modern times for the Dutch Mennonites is Kanselboek: ten dienste van de Doopsgezinde Gemeenter in hederland (62 pp.) published in 1948.
The first manual printed in Switzerland or Germany was Valentin Dahlem's Allgemeines und vollständiges Formularbuch für die Gottesdienstliche Handlungen in denen Taufgesinnten, Evangelisch Mennoniten-Gemeinden (Neuwied, 1807). It was printed for the congregations of the Palatinate at the request of the Ibersheim conference of 1803. The first 145 pages contain the manual of forms, the second section (146-293) a collection of prayers for the minister's use, the third section (299-336) the ministers' manual of the congregations in Baden and Württemberg in the Neokar regions, prepared by the ministers of this group east of the Rhine and printed at their request in the Dahlem book.
In 1852 the Palatine churches replaced the 1807 manual with one prepared by Johannes Molenaar, Allgemeines Formularbuch (Monsheim, 1852) of 279 pages, but without the "Neckar" appendix. The "Neckar" congregations published their own manual in 1876 under the title Leitfaden zum Gebrauch bei gottesdienstlichen Handlungen zunächst für die Aeltesten und Prediger der gesammt-Mennoniten Gemeine in Baden, prepared by Ulrich Hege and printed at Sinsheim in 1921 (154 pp.). The Handbuch zum Gebrauch bei gottesdienstlichen Handlungen zunächst für die Aeltesten und Prediger der Mennoniten-Gemeinden in Nordamerika (Berne, IN, 1893, pp. 124), published by the General Conference Mennonite Church, and often reprinted, was based on manuals of the Palatinate and Baden.
For whom the Mennonite Publishing Company at Elkhart, IN, printed the following small 47-page booklet about 1875 is not known: Ein Verlobungs-, Copulirungs- und Strafannehmungsbuch. Nebst schönen, geistreichen Sprüchen. Von dem ehrsamen Lehrer Oheim Heinrich Schmidt, wohnhaft und Mitnachbar in Antonowka, bei der Kreisstadt Kanjew, Volhynisches Gouvernement im Kaiserthum Russland. It is not strictly a service manual but contains sermons to be used at the occasions of betrothal, marriage, and restoration of disciplined persons. Schmidt is identified as having been ordained on 7 April 1861 at Antonowka by Elder Tobias Unruh. The first and apparently only manual published for the Mennonite Brethren Church was Heinrich A. Neufeld's Handbuchlein für Prediger und Gemeinde glieder (Winnipeg, n.d.-1927, 24 pp.).
The Mennonite Church (MC) after 1890 used the Confession of Faith and Ministers Manual, edited by John S. Coffman and John F. Funk and published at Elkhart. Besides the manual proper it contained the Dordrecht Confession, Shorter Catechism, and forms for use at funeral services. The eighth edition appeared at Scottdale in 1925. In 1944 this was combined with other materials under the title Mennonite Church Polity and published by authorization of the Mennonite General Conference.
The Old Order Amish ministers' manuals have been handed down largely in manuscript form. The oldest known manual is that prepared by Bishop Johannes Naffziger of Essingen, Palatinate, Germany, at the request of the Amish congregations in Holland and sent to them in a letter dated 16 March 1781. (Several manuscript copies of this manual are in the Mennonite Historical Library, Goshen, Indiana, USA) It was printed at Elkhart in 1916 as a 31-page pamphlet under the title, Ein Alter Brief, and reprinted at Kutztown, PA, in 1926. Another independently composed manual was written by Joseph Unzicker, apparently in Europe in the early 19th century. (Several manuscript copies of this manual also are in Mennonite Historical Library, Goshen, IN.) John Umble has edited the Unzicker manual in the article, "An Amish Minister's Manual," Mennonite Quarterly Review 15 (1941) 95-117, and described all the manuscript manuals in the Mennonite Historical Library, Goshen, IN in "Manuscript Amish Ministers' Manuals in the Goshen College Library," Mennonite Quarterly Review 15 (1941) 243-253. L. A. Miller assembled material from several manuscript manuals and added his own revision and comments to produce the first printed Old Order Amish ministers' manual. Its title was: Handbuch für Prediger. Zum Gebrauch für gottesdienstliche Handlungen so wie den Diakonen, Diener zum Buch und Bischöfen ihr Beruf anbefohlen wird und wie verschiedene Lehren oder Predigten ordentlich und ehrerbietig ausgeführt werden die Zuhörer zu Jesu leiten wiedergeboren und selig werden. (Arthur, IL, n.d.-1950).
The Mennonite Historical Library, Goshen, IN also has a manuscript Mennonite (not Amish) manual used in Virginia, entitled Ordnung und Gemeinde Regel, von Daniel Good, Aelt. der Gemeinde in Rockingham County, Virginia. Bishop A. G. Clemmer (d. 1939) is reported to have used a manuscript ministers' manual of his own.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 696-697. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Bender, Harold S. "Ministers' Manuals." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M56137.html.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1957). Ministers' Manuals. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M56137.html.