The Offenthaler Accord was a meeting of representatives of the Amish congregations on 20 and 21 May 1867 in Offenthal near St. Goarshausen (until 1945 in Hesse-Nassau), Germany, dealing with a partial adaptation of the Amish to the other Mennonites in Germany. Seventeen representatives of the six Amish Mennonite congregations in the Palatinate, Hesse-Nassau, Oberhesse, and Neuwied were present. An agreement was reached on the basis of ten articles, which were unanimously signed. The most important were articles 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Article five deals with feetwashing and says, "It shall be left to each congregation, whether it is to be literally carried out or whether it shall be spiritually interpreted as a sign of remembrance and as such impressed upon the communion guests." "But it shall not be the basis of a future division among us."
Article seven deals with nonresistance and designates: "How each congregation and each young man will preserve this ancient Mennonite principle to do justice first to his own conscience and then also to the government, we leave to the careful consideration of each one."
Article eight deals with mixed marriages and declares: "In accord with the express word of the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 7:14) we believe that such marriages as are called mixed because one part belongs to our brotherhood and the other to some other Christian body can be blessed; therefore we no longer feel authorized to maintain the church discipline to which mixed marriages have hitherto been subject."
Article nine limits the application of church discipline to exclusion from communion.
Though this beginning of a union with the Mennonites had promising prospects, the course of events did not correspond. The chief obstacle to unification was the objection by the congregations not represented in the conference to the attitude on mixed marriages. A conference of the French Mennonites at Einville near Lunéville on 2 June 1867 stated that they put a different interpretation on the quotation from Paul, namely, that such a mixed marriage is not permissible. The congregations in West Prussia and Baden were also sharply in disagreement with the decision on mixed marriages. Most of the congregations participating in the Offenthal Conference died out at the end of the 19th century.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon., 4 v. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 293.
Mennonitische Blätter (1867): 38-40; (1868): 28-31.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 21-22. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Neff, Christian. "Offenthaler Accord ." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 26 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O4825.html.
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