Altkolonier Mennonitengemeinde, Mexico

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Congregations

Old Colony Mennonite (Car): 18 colonies Old Colony Mennonite (Horse): 12 colonies

Membership

Old Colony Mennonite (Car): 16,525 Old Colony Mennonite (Horse): 3,200

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Old Colony Mennonite Church (Car) (Altkolonier Mennonitengemeinde)

This group was part of the 1922 migration of Old Colony Mennonites of Dutch-Russian background from Canada to Mexico. These tradition-minded Mennonites left Canada because they were threatened by new education laws in Manitoba and Saskatchewan that required all children to attend English-language schools. Many Old Colony members eventually left Mexico for British Honduras (now Belize) and Bolivia. Some impoverished members returned to Canada in the last quarter of the 20th century. This is the largest and most progressive branch of Old Colony people in Mexico. They accept rubber tires on tractors, travel by car and truck, and use electricity. They speak Low German and continue many traditional religious practices of their Old Colony heritage. The group has about 16,525 members in 18 colonies. Twelve of the colonies are in Chihuahua, and the rest are in Coahuila, Durango, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas. Other congregations related to this group are in Belize, Canada, and the United States. [1]

Old Colony Mennonite Church (Horse) (Altkolonier Mennonitengemeinde)

Beginning in 1922, some 7,000 Old Colony Mennonites of Dutch-Russian background, who had settled in Canada in the 1870s, migrated to Mexico. They established three colonies: Manitoba and Swift in Chihuahua, and Patos in Durango. These tradition-minded Mennonites left Canada because they were threatened by new education laws in Manitoba and Saskatchewan that required all children to attend Englishlanguage schools. Many Old Colony members eventually left Mexico for British Honduras (now Belize) and Bolivia. Some impoverished members returned to Canada in the last quarter of the 20th century. This is the most traditional subgroup. Members speak Low German, use steel-wheeled tractors, reject electricity, and travel by horse and buggy. The group has 3,200 members living in 12 colonies, seven of which are in the state of Campeche. Other congregations related to this group are in Belize, Canada, and the United States.[2]

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Origins

The Old Colony Mennonites in Mexico (Altkolonier Mennonitengemeinde) can trace their roots the more conservative branch of the Russian Mennonites in Choritza Colony. In the early 1870s, the czarist government revoked the right of the Russian Mennonites to be exempt from military service. While a delegation was sent to Moscow to restore this privilege, and was successful in doing so, more conservative bishops saw this as a sign that it was time to move. A delegation was sent abroad to secure new land where they could settle, educate their own children, and be exempt from military service. Land and a Privilegium was found in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada. The Privilegium stated, among other things, that the Russian Mennonites would not to subject to military conscription, and that the colonists could run their own schools. This migration to Canada took place in around 1874.

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Citations

  1. Donald B. Kraybill, Concise Encyclopedia of Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), 233-234.
  2. Ibid.
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