Offstein (Rheinhessen, Germany)
Offstein, a village near Worms in Rhenish Hesse, Germany, was once the seat of a Mennonite congregation, which was founded by Swiss refugees who settled here soon after the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). The lists of Mennonites in the Karlsruhe archives name three families in 1664; one of them was Peter Dahlem, and another was the preacher Heinrich Schneider. By 1685 the number of families had increased to seven. In March 1688 a conference of elders and preachers of the South German congregations was held in Offstein, and resolutions were passed on the attitude to be taken by preachers and elders toward transgressors. Only four families survived the French War.
The Amsterdam Mennonite Archives contain several letters written by Jonas, preacher of the Offstein congregation (from before 1670 until after 1714), which give information about the Mennonite refugees expelled from Switzerland in 1710, who had settled in Alsace and the Palatinate and who asked for financial aid from the Dutch Mennonites; this aid was given.
In 1742 the Johannes Dahlem and Jonas Schnebele families moved away from Offstein, Johannes Schneider joined the Reformed Church. In 1768 a Nikolaus Kägy family is mentioned. At the beginning of the 19th century the number of Mennonites in the village must have been larger.
On 1 May 1828 the Mennonites of Offstein presented a petition to the government at Mainz for the release of their children from obligatory attendance at religious instruction in the community school, "since we have our children learn in their youth what belongs to their religion." They objected to the books that were prescribed for instruction, and declared it to be a violation of religious liberty to compel their children to use these books.
On 13 November 1835 representatives of the stricter wing of the Mennonites in Hesse and the Palatinate met in conference in Offstein and declared that the new catechism and also the hymnal of 1832 were not acceptable to them, and that they would not deviate a hair's breadth from the faith of their fathers.
For a long time the Mennonites of Offstein and Dirmstein belonged to the circuit Heppenheim-Obersülzen-Gerolsheim, and later to the Kriegsheim congregation, as is recorded (about 1820) in the Kriegsheim city church building record.
In 1942 there were two Mennonites living in Offstein, members of the Monsheim congregation; in 1957 there were four Mennonite families and two part families.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 294.
Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam. 2 v. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: I, Nos. 1257, 1435-1437; II, No. 2849.
Mathias Pohl, "Geschichtliche Beiträge aus den Mennonitengemeinden." Mennonitischer Gemeinde-Kalender (1906): 135-143.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 23. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Neff, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Offstein (Rheinhessen, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O487.html.
APA style: Neff, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1959). Offstein (Rheinhessen, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O487.html.