1959 ArticleKonferenz der Mennoniten der Schweiz (Alttäufer) = Conférence Mennonite Suisse (Anabaptiste), (Conference of the Mennonites of Switzerland, formerly known as Konferenz der altevangetischen Taufgesinnten-Gemeinden [Mennoniten] der Schweiz) is the Mennonite conference in Switzerland. Representatives of the Swiss churches in 1954 met semiannually, at the end of March at Sonnenberg (Jura) and at the end of September at Langnau (Emmental). The conferences were usually attended by elders, preachers, and deacons for consultation and deliberation on church matters, with lay representatives participating as may be elected by the several congregations. The idea of the conference is based on old tradition. A letter of 24 May 1779 reveals that the preachers, deacons, and elders met annually on 25 March for a conference to discuss church affairs. A letter from "Biderichgraben, 2 stund hinder Biel in der schweitz," dated 2 March 1785, states that the "old customary conference" will be held on 25 March. Not much is said in these letters about the business under consideration.
The task and purpose of the conference consisted not only of discussion of church affairs, but also in mutual admonition to faithfulness and love, as well as reproof in cases of unauthorized interference in church life, as when two preachers and their following were put out of church in 1835 in connection with the Samuel Fröhlich affair (see Bern).
A subject under lively discussion in the 1850s and 1870s was the annulment of military freedom for Mennonites, which led to negotiations with the cantonal government at Bern.
Since 1889 the proceedings have been carefully recorded. In that year the conference was occupied with thoughts of missions. A general fund was established and presented to the brotherhood in order to awaken a sense of missions through suitable addresses in the churches. Home missions also received increasing attention, and a missions committee was appointed to hold evangelistic meetings. The brethren were also commissioned to visit churches, families, and individuals.
Concerning internal questions of individual congregations the decision was made in 1890 that at least once a year a meeting of the brethren (Brüderversammlung) should be held, in which these matters could be discussed for the good of the congregation and the growth of the kingdom of God. Deacons were to report on the "poor fund" at these meetings, and delegates chosen to represent the congregation at the next general conference.
Regarding youth instruction the conference decided in 1892 to adopt the Christliches Lehrbüchlein of the Baden Mennonites. A Youth Commission (Jugendkommission) was established in 1935.
In 1898 the conference adopted a constitution and the name which appears at the head of this article. The question of incorporation was discussed. Since several congregations had recently built churches the question arose whether the congregations or conference should have the right of ownership. Autonomy again decided the issue, and it was left to each congregation to decide whether it wished to be incorporated. Only the school at Chaux d'Abel became the property of the conference.
In the course of time many a doctrinal question, such as baptism, communion, and church discipline, has been discussed. The devotional part of the conference usually consists of an introductory discussion of some Bible passage by the moderator and an instructive talk on some question of the day, usually a Biblical topic.
In 1920 the conference of the Swiss Mennonites joined the Federation of Free Churches in Switzerland (Aarauer Verband). -- Samuel Geiser
2010 UpdateIn 2010 the conference had the following congregations:
- Mennonitengemeinde Basel-Holee
- Evangelische Mennoniten-Gemeinde Bern
- Mennonitengemeinde Brügg
- Église évangélique Mennonite de Courgenay
- Alttäufergemeinde Emmental
- Mennonitengemeinde La Chaux-d'Abel
- Église évangélique mennonite Les Bulles
- Mennonitengemeinde Kleintal/Moron
- Evangelische Mennonitengemeinde Schänzli, Muttenz
- Evangelische Mennonitengemeinde Sonnenberg
- Église évangélique Mennonite de Tavannes
- Alttäufergemeinde (Mennoniten) Unteres Birstal
- Église évangélique Mennonite de la Vallée de Delémont
- Église évangélique Mennonite du Vallon de Saint-Imier
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 527.
Cite This Article
Geiser, Samuel. "Konferenz der Mennoniten der Schweiz (Alttäufer) = Conférence Mennonite Suisse (Anabaptiste)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1954. Web. 29 Jul 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Konferenz_der_Mennoniten_der_Schweiz_(Altt%C3%A4ufer)_%3D_Conf%C3%A9rence_Mennonite_Suisse_(Anabaptiste)&oldid=82840.
Geiser, Samuel. (1954). Konferenz der Mennoniten der Schweiz (Alttäufer) = Conférence Mennonite Suisse (Anabaptiste). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 July 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Konferenz_der_Mennoniten_der_Schweiz_(Altt%C3%A4ufer)_%3D_Conf%C3%A9rence_Mennonite_Suisse_(Anabaptiste)&oldid=82840.
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