Difference between revisions of "L'Association des Eglises Evangéliques Mennonites de France"

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Secularization is becoming problematic for all Christian groups in France making one challenge faced by French Mennonites the maintaining of an Anabaptist-Mennonite theological identity while being a minority within the Protestant and Evangelical minority in France. Furthermore, French Mennonites are searching for an identity that is linked to theology rather than ethnicity or family names.
 
Secularization is becoming problematic for all Christian groups in France making one challenge faced by French Mennonites the maintaining of an Anabaptist-Mennonite theological identity while being a minority within the Protestant and Evangelical minority in France. Furthermore, French Mennonites are searching for an identity that is linked to theology rather than ethnicity or family names.
  
Post World War II, French Mennonites created social institutions to express their compassion, recently, though, French Mennonites are dealing with a lack of initiatives due to the difficulty that comes from establishing recognized social activities, an absense of theological drive (something that North American Mennonites brought with them when they offered relief, and French Mennonites never fully integrated), and the gentrification of French Mennonites.  
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Post World War II, French Mennonites created social institutions to express their compassion, recently, though, French Mennonites are dealing with a lack of initiatives due to the difficulty that comes from establishing recognized social activities, an absense of theological drive (something that North American Mennonites brought with them when they offered relief, and French Mennonites never fully integrated), and the gentrification of French Mennonites. <ref>http://eumen.net/en/locations/france.html#</ref>
  
However, the Relief Fund was created in 1977 and has been a way for French Mennonites to offer a lending hand. The Relief Fund has been helpful in places like Syria and Afghanistan.
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However, the Relief Fund was created in 1977 and has been a way for French Mennonites to offer a lending hand. The Relief Fund has been helpful in places like Syria and Afghanistan. <ref>http://eumen.net/en/locations/france.html#</ref>
  
 
==Future==
 
==Future==

Revision as of 18:20, 11 December 2014

L'Association des Eglises Evangéliques Mennonites de France

Location

Strasbourg

Contact Information

Date Established

1979-1980

President

Joël Nussbaumer

MWC Affiliated?

Yes

Number of Congregations

32

Membership

2,100


L'Association des Eglises Evangéliques Mennonites de France is associated with Mennonite World Conference. In 2006, the conference had 33 congregations and 2,100 members.[1]

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History

The origins of the French Mennonites goes back to the Swiss Anabaptists who came to France in successive waves due to economic difficulties and persecution. The group settled in the valley of Sainte-Marie-Aux-Mines and witnessed the birth of the “Jacob Amman Party” in 1693. More migrations took place under the King of France, where the French Anabaptists migrated to Montbéliard, Lorraine int he Duchy or Zweibrücken, or the county of Salem. All of these places had more tolerant feudal lords.

After 1870, the more agrarian in character Alsatian congregations joined the South German Conference when it was founded in 1887. They sometimes kept in close contact with Mennonites in the Palatinate and individual churches from the Association of German Mennonite churches. However, migration in the 19th century consequently meant losing people as well as aspects of the Mennonite theological identity. One of these theological aspects that was compromised was that of the commitment to nonviolence. At the start of the 20th century, however, a group of Mennonites gained a significant dose of evangelical/revivalist theology, which lead to the reestablishing of a more conscious Mennonite identity after World War II. After World War I, and after Alsace was deemed French (during the war, France and Germany fought over who controlled the Alsace region, which in turn meant that the nationality of the Alsace region often switched from German to French, and vice versa) and the Alsatian congregations were cut off from the South German congregations. This lead to the founding of L’Association des Eglises Evangéliques Mennonites (Anabaptistes) or the Conference of Evangelical Mennonite (Anabaptist) Congregations (170).

The second group of Mennonites settled earlier in Belfort/Montbéliard and parts of Lorraine. This group had both urban and agrarian professions. In addition, this gorup of Mennonites adopted the French language in the 19th century.

The creation of new national borders in 1870 meant isolation for the French-speaking Mennonite congregations. The group formed a conference in order to hire Hinerant evangelists in Belfortin 1908 and renewed again in 1929 after World War I.

After the two conferences developed alongside one another for one generation, they discovered that they could share many tasks in mission and relief works. In 1979-80, the conferences united to form L’Association des Eglises Evangéliques Mennonites de France (AEEMF).

Maintaining an Anabaptist-Mennonite Identity

There is a strong historical continuity that French Mennonites share with Anabaptists of the 16th century in that French territory has been the home of Anabaptists since the 16th century in places like Strasbourg, and in the Alsace region throughout the 17th century. In addition, there is a sense of cultural continuity among French Mennonites that comes with the ethnic Mennonite identity. Some of the most common Mennonite names have been around since the 17th century. These names are still remnant of their Swiss origins. Names such as Muller, Nussbaumer, Kauffman, Goldschmidt, Widmer, Peterschmitt, and Graber are all common names among French Mennonites. While names have been one way of maintaining cultural continuity, the group is searching for identity markers that go beyond last names and ethnicity.

Some of the group’s more recent attempts at maintaining an identity within the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition include the recent completion (November 2014) of a 20 year process to adopt a translated and contextualized version of the “Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective.”

The French Mennonites have continued publishing strong materials on themes of Anabaptist theology and history. Some of these publications include Les dossiers de Christ Seul and Perspectives Anabaptistes.

Furthermore, the Mennonite theology school at the Bienenberg offers programs that help to foster an Anabaptist-Mennonite identity. Relating to other Anabaptist groups has also proven to be a beneficial way for the French Mennonites to show their intentions of maintaining an identity within the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The aforementioned Bienenberg is a European Mennonite school has been an important place for European Mennonites. It also has both French and German language sections. Mennonite World Conference has made its mark on a number of Mennonite congregations around the world, and the French Mennonites are no different. Until recently, the Strasbourg office of the Mennonite World Conference had a strong bond with MWC. The French Mennonite press and French Mennonite conference meetings often received reports on MWC.

In 1954, French Mennonites and Mennonite Board of Missions/Mennonite Mission Network have built a partnership that has lasted through today. Other ways that French Mennonites create inter-Mennonite relationships is through annual assemblies of European conference ministers; through MCC West Europe, which has its office in Strasbourg; and their participation in the “Réseau francophone Mennonite,” which builds relationships between French-speaking Mennonites on three continents.

Challenges facing French Mennonites

Like any group, French Mennonites are faced with a number of struggles. To begin, although this is not problematic, sociological shifts have effected French Mennonite congregations. With shifts from rural to urban settings, there has been a push toward trained as well as paid pastoral leadership positions. In addition, there have been developments of multi-cultural congregations.

Secularization is becoming problematic for all Christian groups in France making one challenge faced by French Mennonites the maintaining of an Anabaptist-Mennonite theological identity while being a minority within the Protestant and Evangelical minority in France. Furthermore, French Mennonites are searching for an identity that is linked to theology rather than ethnicity or family names.

Post World War II, French Mennonites created social institutions to express their compassion, recently, though, French Mennonites are dealing with a lack of initiatives due to the difficulty that comes from establishing recognized social activities, an absense of theological drive (something that North American Mennonites brought with them when they offered relief, and French Mennonites never fully integrated), and the gentrification of French Mennonites. [2]

However, the Relief Fund was created in 1977 and has been a way for French Mennonites to offer a lending hand. The Relief Fund has been helpful in places like Syria and Afghanistan. [3]

Future

Plans are already underway for France to host the European Mennonite conference in 2018.

One way that French Mennonites are responding to the continuing secularization of France is making a more visible presence within society by creating social institutions, evangelism, and church-planting. Two church planting projects are currently in progress.


Key Individuals in the Life of the Church

Electronic Resources

Citations

  1. "2006 Mennonite World Conference Directory for Europe," Mennonite World Conference. http://www.mwc-cmm.org/en15/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13&Itemid=16 (accessed 17 June 2009).
  2. http://eumen.net/en/locations/france.html#
  3. http://eumen.net/en/locations/france.html#

Annotated Bibliography

Claude Baecher, et al. Testing Faith and Tradition Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2006. Print.

External Links