Sorga (Hessen, Germany)
Sorga, a village about three miles east of Hersfeld in Hesse, Germany (coordinates: 50° 52′ 6″ N, 9° 45′ 30″ E), which became the center of the Anabaptist movement in this entire region and where a strong Anabaptist congregation existed from about the middle of 1528 to 1533, which had strong connections with the Moravian Anabaptists. Hans Both, and later a certain Ilgen, were the leaders or elders of the congregation. Ludwig Spon (or Hans Römer), an active Anabaptist leader in eastern Thuringia and eastern Hesse, testified in 1533 before the court that there were 40-50 persons in the congregation, taught by a minister (Lehrer); the Christian life was practiced, and no one suffered need, since there was mutual aid. The greeting of the Lord, "Peace be with you," was the distinguishing mark of the brethren, who celebrated the Lord's Supper according to the ordination of the Lord; for this consisted of nothing more than the partaking of the natural bread, taken with thanksgiving. "Whoever does the will of the Lord has received His body and drunk His blood." Wappler, in reporting the reasons for the strength of the Anabaptist propaganda which proceeded from Sorga into the neighboring Thuringian-Hessian territory, explains that "on the one hand the [tolerant] attitude of Prince Philipp of Hesse was responsible, who, due to a certain sympathy for the Anabaptists because of the earnestness of their faith and the boldness of their confessing, always shrank back from severe measures; on the other hand the sermons of the Lutheran preachers all too often failed to produce the fruits of a new life, while their conduct gave much occasion for offense. How strikingly the Anabaptist preachers differed in this respect, who really lived what they preached, and often enough went to their death for the truth of their cause." The Lutheran pastor Raidt in neighboring Hersfeld also had understanding for them. A certain Anabaptist preacher called Alexander testified in July 1533, that he had often been at Sorga, where the brethren held public meetings and preaching ("öffentliche Gemeinde und Predigt").
But the pressure of neighboring Saxony, which demanded the death penalty and strict suppression because of the constant influence of the Sorga Anabaptists in Saxony, as well as the evident increasing strength of the movement, finally moved Philipp to drastic action. In September 1533 the entire Sorga congregation was expelled. They, like many other persecuted Anabaptists in Central and Southern Germany, moved to the Hutterites in Moravia, with whom they had intimate connections. George Knobloch testified in September 1534, that "the whole village of Sorga had moved to Moravia, expelled by the Prince." Hans Both went with them. The further history of the Sorga group's failure to find a satisfactory spiritual home with the communal Hutterites, and then partial returns to Hesse is detailed by Wappler partly on the basis of the account in the Hutterite Chronicle (under the year 1533).
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. IV.
Hochhuth, K. W. H. "Landgraf Philip und die Wiedertäufer." Zeitschrift für historische Theologie XXVIII (1858): 538-644; XXIX (1859): 167-234.
Wappler, Paul. Die Stellung Kursachsens und des Landgrafen Philipp von Hessen zur Täuferbewegung. Münster, 1910.
Wappler, Paul. Die Täuferbewegung in Thüringen von 1526-1584. Jena: Gustav Fisher, 1913: 73, 103.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 581-582. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Bender, Harold S. "Sorga (Hessen, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/sorga.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1959). Sorga (Hessen, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/sorga.