Hutterites

An Anabaptist group living communally in North America, tracing their roots to the 16th-century Radical Reformation in Europe.


The Hutterites are a distinctive ethnoreligious group of Anabaptists, akin to the Amish and Mennonites, with a history tracing back to the Radical Reformation of the early 16th century. They are named after Jakob Hutter, who played a significant role in establishing their colonies based on the principles of community of goods and nonresistance.

Historical Roots and Migration

Originating from the Anabaptist movement which began in Switzerland, the Hutterites initially formed in response to the early Reformation led by Huldrych Zwingli. The Anabaptist movement, known for adult baptism and separation from state churches, quickly spread from Switzerland across Europe. Jakob Hutter, an early convert in South Tyrol, became a prominent leader, but faced intense persecution, leading to his execution in 1536.

The Hutterites experienced continual migration due to religious persecution. Nearly extinct by the 18th century, they moved to Russia in 1770 and then, about a hundred years later, migrated to North America. Today, the majority of Hutterites reside in Western Canada and the upper Great Plains of the United States, with a population recovered from about 400 to approximately 50,000.

Communal Living and Beliefs

Hutterites live in communal groups known as Bruderhöfe or colonies, emphasizing the sharing of goods and a non-resistant way of life. This approach to living is inspired by the early Christian church as described in the Acts of the Apostles. Their religious practices include daily church services and adherence to the Schleitheim Confession, a classic Anabaptist statement of faith. The Hutterites place great emphasis on the community of goods, which involves shared ownership and cooperative labor.

Modern Challenges and Adaptations

While maintaining traditional values, Hutterites have adapted to modern life in certain ways. They engage in farming, raise livestock, and produce manufactured goods for sustenance. Each colony typically consists of about fifteen families who work together for the well-being of the community.