Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sun. Nov. 2, 2008 (Andre Pekovich)

Andre created and led our morning service on the theme, "Recalling and Giving Thanks for the Radical Reformation and the Tauferjahr". Andre divided the service into seven sections (each including readings and a song), leading us through the story of the birth of Anabaptism in Switzerland, the split of the more radical reformers from those remaining with the state church, the resultant persecution and exile (either to other countries or to land thought to be unfarmable because it was above 1000 meters). We heard prayers by Zwingli, Blaurock, Baumann and others. The so-called "Radical Reformation" found itself dividing into different groups, including the Amish (and there were once 26 different kinds of Mennonites in Canada alone). In the 19th century, evangelists from the Reformed Church encouraged spiritual revival among the Anabaptists in Switzerland and elsewhere, the Swiss finally gave permission for Anabaptists to build their own churches and a seminary was stablished in Bienenberg. Finally, in 2003 representatives from the various Protestant Swiss movements met for prayer and confession for the centuries of persecution, offering official expressions of forgiveness on both sides, for both actions and attitudes. They also prayed that this sordid history no longer be a curse on Christians descending from either side of the divide. In 2007, Switzerland proclaimed a "Tauferjahr" ('Anabaptist Year'), celebrating the movement. Today there are only about 2,500 Anabaptists living in Switzerland, but the movement has grown to hundreds of thousands elsewhere, and its ideas--pacificism, believers studying scripture for themselves, and the separation of church and state--have profoundly influenced millions of people throughout the world. [JEK]



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