Saturday, 3 November 2012

Reflections of Hutterites who Visited Amana (guest bloggers)

Was happy to hear that quite a few people enjoyed the Amana posts! Thanks for the feedback! Today, I'm happy to welcome fellow Hutterites, Jesse Hofer and Kenny Wollmann as guest bloggers. They visited Amana a few years ago and kindly agreed to share their reflections.

Hutterites Visit Amana - August 19-20, 2010
The Chronicle of the Hutterian Brethren relates that Hutterites and the people of Amana share a warm connection. In the early years of the Hutterites’ North American experience, the kindness of the Amana residents enabled the financially challenged Hutterites to purchase land and get established in a foreign land. The Chronicle concludes by commenting that, since then, “Hutterites visit the Amana people at every opportunity.”

When the opportunity presented itself in August of 2009, a group of Hutterite educators—including most of the members of the Hutterian Brethren Education Committee—visited the Amana villages in southern Iowa. The group attended a planning meeting in Minnesota before making the trip south to tour the villages.

Conscious of their own history and experience as a communal society, Hutterites are very interested in what they can learn from the Amana story. Our group was particularly interested in learning more about why Amana abandoned the practice of community of goods.

Michael Hofer, working in metal shop
When we arrived at Amana, Peter Hoehnle and his infant son, Jonathan, greeted us in front of the General Store. Listening to Peter relate the colourful characters and stories that shaped Amana, we quickly recognized the strong similarities to our own experiences, obviously due to our common Germanic heritage and communal life-style.

Part of the group of 22 was Rev. Arnold Hofer from Acadia Community, Carberry, Manitoba. Arnold is great nephew to Michael Hofer, a former Hutterite from Bon Homme, South Dakota. Michael became a resident of Amana after visiting to receive treatment for an eye condition. He stayed, worked in the blacksmith shop and eventually married one of the locals, Anna Marie Stuck. It was a touching experience to visit the metal shop where Michael served the community as a blacksmith.

The visit provided another generation of Hutterites the occasion to honour the Amana people for their generous assistance in the past. We were reminded of the richness that communal life can have—a fact we can easily lose sight of when we are too busy living life. Like the Amana of old, we are encouraged to “Bleib treu!”

Thank you, Jesse and Kenny! It's obvious you had a wonderful time soaking up Amana hospitality. Hopefully one day I will have the opportunity to visit there as well. Until then, I dream!


  1. Why did they give up community of goods?

  2. libbiali, read my 'Amana - Hutterite Connections' post. If that's not enough info, there's also a link to the Amana website.

  3. I have not seen this photo of my great grandfather. Thank you for sharing. Susan Kippenhan Sevig, granddaughter of Susanna Hofer Kippenhan, Michael Hofer's daughter.


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