California Mennonites by Brian Froese

By Brian Froese

Books approximately Mennonites have established totally on the East Coast and the Midwest, the place nearly all of Mennonite groups within the usa can be found. yet those narratives overlook the original heritage of the multitude of Mennonites residing at the West Coast. In California Mennonites, Brian Froese depends upon archival church documents to envision the Mennonite adventure within the Golden nation, from the nineteenth-century migrants who got here looking for sunshine and fertile soil to the regularly agrarian group that struggled with problems with urbanization, race, gender, schooling, and hard work within the 20th century to the evangelically orientated, partly assimilated Mennonites of today.

Froese areas Mennonite reports opposed to a backdrop of significant old occasions, together with global battle II and Vietnam, and social concerns, from hard work disputes to the evolution of psychological healthiness care. California Mennonites contain those who include more than a few ideologies: many are traditionally rooted within the sixteenth-century Reformation beliefs of the early Anabaptists (pacifism, congregationalism, discipleship); a few include twentieth-century American evangelicalism (missions, Billy Graham); and others are devoted to one of those social justice that includes forging functional ties to secular executive courses whereas holding a quiet connection to faith.

Through their reports of non secular variety, altering demographics, and battle, California Mennonites have wrestled with advanced questions of what it capacity to be American, Mennonite, and glossy. This book―the first of its kind―will entice historians and spiritual experiences students alike.

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Deep in these congregational and denominational stories, however, was the siren call of California’s arcadian climate, which at times resulted in dramatic church growth, and at other times, tremendous loss, even failure. As I discuss in the next chapter, California was simultaneously Promised Land, Paradise Lost, healer, feverish swamp, fertile, and parched. California was also a place where religious boundaries within conservative Protestantism were porous and geographic distances great—exacerbating existing cultural-religious anxieties.

By the late 1950s, attendance hovered at about 200, giving some cause for optimism. The Lodi congregation has its roots in the Woodrow Gospel Chapel in North Dakota. Many Mennonites and other German-speaking immigrants from South Russia came between 1874 and 1888, and many of those in Woodrow in the early twentieth century from that migration to North Dakota moved to either Lodi or Saskatchewan. In the 1920s, North Dakota churches experienced a drain due largely to “California fever,” though many also moved to Saskatchewan.

In the early period of their California experience, their school, which was constructed to teach German and the Bible, in fact became a community high school. 77 In some realms of the Mennonite experience, accommodation was made between religious impulses and secular society to such an extent that little distinction could be made between them. Secularization marks a realignment of identity, seeking justification more from society and less from religion. ”78 Mennonites looking westward in the postwar period understood that something was happening in California that would soon happen in the east.

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