Porrentruy (Canton Jura, Switzerland)
Porrentruy (German, Pruntrut), a government district formerly located in the northwestern part of the Swiss canton of Bern on the Alsatian border, with a capital by the same name, close to the French border. As of 1 January 1979 it became a part of the newly formed canton of Jura.
Mennonite families have been living in this area for decades. They first attended the meetings of the neighboring congregations of Grand Lucelle and Florimont, and also maintained connections with the Seigne congregation in France, whose members were of Swiss descent. Since they were too far away from the other congregations Isaak Gerber, who had leased the mountain farm called Vacherie-Mouillard, began to hold meetings in his home, at first occasionally, and after 1895 every month. This was the beginning of the Porrentruy congregation. The first meetings were conducted alternately by Heinrich Schmutz of La Lave of the Seigne congregation and Samuel Gerber of Paturatte, Bernese Jura.
At the outbreak of World War I Heinrich Schmutz had to flee from France because he was a German citizen. Deprived of all his possessions, and leaving his wife behind in an internment camp in southern France, he escaped with his two children to Switzerland and found a temporary home with the David Gerber (son of the above) family in Mavaloz near Porrentruy.
The Porrentruy congregation soon increased, making it necessary to provide a larger room for their meetings. In 1918 a suitable hall was rented for this purpose in the western part of the city on the farm of the old tile factory. The first meeting at this place was held on 12 May 1918, and from that time on twice a month. For twenty years this simple room served the congregation as a place of meeting.
As the congregation grew inwardly and outwardly, the young people organized a chorus, and the small room was no longer suitable. After lengthy consultation a members' meeting decided on 6 January 1938, to build a new chapel on the farm of Elder Schmutz in Courgenay, where this family was now living. This has become one of the most beautiful of the Mennonite churches in Switzerland. It was dedicated on 22 January 1939.
A factor in the development of the Porrentruy congregation was the annual Bible course, which was usually conducted by Mennonites from the outside.
For a time the congregation was affiliated with the Alsatian Mennonite Conference but for a considerable period it has been affiliated with the Swiss Mennonite Conference.
For many years Elder Heinrich Schmutz was the only preacher of the Porrentruy congregation. His first co-minister was Samuel Geiser, who was living in this area at that time and served for two years, until he moved away to the Kleintal congregation. In 1932 two men were ordained to the ministry— Christian Schmutz, a son of the elder, and Jakob Lehmann. In 1941 Daniel Nussbaumer, formerly of Basel, and two "trial" preachers, Abel Baumgartner and Gaston Gerber, preached for a while. In 1955 the elder was Christian Schmutz of Courgenay, the preachers Albert Nussbaumer, Gaston Gerber, and Abel Baumgartner. The baptized membership in 1958 was 140.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: III, 402 f.
Mennonitischer Gemeinde-Kalender (1951).
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 204. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Geiser, Samuel. "Porrentruy (Canton Jura, Switzerland)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 18 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/porrentruy_canton_jura_switzerland.
APA style: Geiser, Samuel. (1959). Porrentruy (Canton Jura, Switzerland). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/porrentruy_canton_jura_switzerland.