Mennonitische Freikirche Österreich

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Contact Information

Date Established

Presiding Officer

MWC Affiliated?

Number of Congregations



xxxx (200x)

xxxx is xxx associated with Mennonite World Conference. In 200x, xx had xx congregations and xx members.[1]

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Austria is predominantly nominally Catholic but there is a growing presence of Evangelical groups. [3] The Mennonite Free Church of Austria is one of the five frets of churches that make up the Free Church in Austria (Freikirchen in Osterreich or FKO). [9] The other four churches in this group are the Baptist Union, the Federation of Evangelical Communities, Elaea Christian Communities, and Free Christian Community, and the Pentecostal Church. There are 160 Free Church communities in all of the provinces of Austria. [2]

Since 1953 there have been Mennonites in Austria. American missionaries came to Austria after World War II to bring material and spiritual relief to the people. As a result of this mission work there were several church plantings starting in Linz, Steyr, and Wels and spreading to Salzburg, Vienna Penzing, Liezen, Gmunden, Linz-Urfahr… Today there are about 600 Christians who meet in Mennonite churches in Austria. [10]


Early 1500s During the protestant reformation up to two-thirds of the Austrian population sympathized with the new ideas. Many Anabaptist, however, suffered for their beliefs as a result of the Counter Reformation under the leadership of Emperor Ferdinand II. He brutally enforced Catholicism on the country and Anabaptists were imprisoned and threatened with death for their beliefs. As a result of this, thousands of Protestants and Anabaptists fled to other countries or reverted back to Catholicism. There were very few Protestants that remained in Austria despite the persecution and hardships but they continued to meet in secret for the next 200 years. [2][3]
1951 After World War II, North American churches sent relief ministry workers to Austria. MCC relief started with rehabilitation and reconstruction work in Linz, the capital of Upper Austria. The Mennonite Brethren Missionaries followed up on MCC relief work by helping to establish new congregations of believers, many of whom were refugees. [2]
1953 Two missionary Families Gossen and John and Martha Vogt chose Linz as the place to begin their work among the refugee camps. Together with Abe and Irene Neufeld they initially provided refugees with material aid but then began to preach the gospel message. [2]
1955 The first Mennonite Brethren congregation in Austria was founded. It was located in Linz and initially met in the home of the Neufelds but later was moved to a local restaurant where they would hold Bible studies. [2]
1958 A second congregation was formed in Neustadt where George H. and Marianne Jantzen worked. [1] During this same time Henry K. Warkentins of Reedley, CA came to Steyr showing evangelistic films. He bought an old house and remodeled it. This became their first church building. The presence of an actual building helped to increase their numbers. [2]
1960 Helmut and Doris Funck went to Vienna on behalf of the Swiss Mennonite Evangelism Committee and directed a small congregation there for eleven years. [2]
1962 From the time the first church was formed there was expressed desire to form an Austrian conference of churches that would meet as a national body. The first step towards this was the formation of a union to look after the legal rights and privileges of the larger church body. [2]
1966 Helmut Funck from Vienna and Lawrence and Selma Warkentin from Wels regularly held services in Salzburg and up to twenty people attended. [2] Leadership of this congregation was soon transferred to the first national pastor among the European MB church plants and the Warkentins moved on to another location. During this same time the first conference was established and called the Arbeitsgameinschaft Mennonitischer Bruedergemeinden in Deutschland. [6]
1968 The churches in Linz, Wels and Steyr united to form a conference known as the Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches of Austria (AMBO). [2]
1969 The small church in Vienna joined the Mennonite Brethren churches. [2]
1970s Church in Gmunden began as a result of Helmut Funck (pastor of the Steyr church) forming Bible study circles in the town. [2]
1975-1980 The AMBO conducted a two-year Bible school that began in Linz and then moved to Traun. Due to low student enrolment, lack of teaching staff, and a shortage of funding, the school was closed. They still wanted to support a school so in 1988-1993 they helped to partially finance a full-time Austrian teacher named Franz Rathmair in a school in Ampflwang. [2]
1979 Church in Vienna disbanded due to some serious crisis. Most members joined the independent Tulpengasse congregation formed by the Neufelds. [2]
1988 The Tulpengasse sister congregation, Hietzing, joined the Mennonite Brethren Conference. [2]
1990 A new church building was constructed and by 1991 the congregation had 66 members and was operating as a financially independent church. [2]
1991 AMBO stated to investigate what it would take to be legally recognized by the Austrian state. The existing law for new churches dates back to 1874 and was constituted in such a way that hindered the formation of new religious organizations. State recognition would bring opportunities such as access to radio broadcasting and TV and newspaper advertising. But many churches did not want to approach the government and were content with the existing constitution. So the investigation was put to the side. [2]
1992 The church had been know up to this point as the Mennonitische Brudergemeinde (Mennonite Brethren Church) but it changed its name to the Mennonitische Freikirche (Mennonite Free Church) [2]
1998 A new law regulating state registration of smaller religious confessional groups was enacted. As a result, the Free Church of Austria gained recognition as a state registered confessional community. This permitted the church to conduct their own religious services and have church buildings. While they were now legally allowed to do this the intolerance toward non-Catholics was still deeply ingrained and many Austrians regard members of the Protestant Free Church with skepticism. [2]
2005 There were six congregations who were a part of the Mennonitische Freikirche Osterreich (Mennonite Free Churches of Austria) [1]
2006 Mennonite Free Church of Vienna purchased and remodeled a new building. It was dedicated the following year in 2007 [2]
2013 The Mennonite Free Church of Austria was legally recognized as a church by decree of the Educational Ministry of Culture as a part of the religious society of “free churches in Austria.” [3]

Key Individuals in the Life of the Church

  • Timm Smutny is a Pastor at Castle Park Mennonite Free Church Austria (Gemeinda am Schlosspark) [4]
  • Walter Klimt is the Chairman of the Council of the free churches in Austria [3]
  • Edwin Jung is the Deputy Chairman of Council of the Free Churches in Austria [3]
  • Sepp Enzenberger is a specialist in Austrian Anabaptism

Electronic Resources


  1. "2006 Mennonite World Conference Directory for Asia/Pacific," Mennonite World Conference. (accessed 17 June 2009).

Annotated Bibliography

1. Baecher, C., Blough, N., Fehr, J., Hoekema, A. Jecker, H., Klassen, J., Lichdi, D., Straten, E., Verbeek, A. (2000). Testing faith and tradition, Europe: A global Mennonite history. Kitchener: Pandora Press.

2. Dueck, A. (2010). The Mennonite Brethren church around the world: Celebrating 150 years. Ontario: Pandora Press.

3. The “free churches in Austria” imagine. (n.d.) Retrieved from

4. Gemeinde am Schlosspark (2014)Retrieved from

5. The Genealogical Evening: Naturwissenschaftlicher and historical society for the country Lippe (n.d.). Retrieved from

6. Jost, L. & Faber, C. (2002) Family matters: Discovering the Mennonite Brethren. Winnipeg:Kindred Productions.

7. Mennonitische Freikirche Gmunden (n.d.) Retrieved from

8. Mennonitische Freikirche Osterreich (2014). Retrieved from

9. Mennonitische Freikirche Wien (n.d.). Retrieved from

10. Mennonitische Freikirche Wels (2010). Retrieved from

11. Osterreichischer Freikirchen-Atlas (n.d.) Retrieved from

External Links