What is communal life like for Hutterites?
Two weeks ago we asked for your questions for Linda Maendel, member of a Manitoba Hutterite community and author of the upcoming Hutterite Diaries.
Linda has answered many of them and we’re sharing the first of those today. Wendy asked:
Hutterites live “communally”. Explain how this differs from Amish. Do they share all meals together? Do males and females live separately or do they live with their families?
Do Hutterites live off the grid like the Old Order Amish (i.e. no electricity, computers, phones, etc.)?
Linda’s response is below.
Home & Family
Each family has their own modern home, not too different from that of mainstream society. Most meals are taken at the communal kitchen, however there are times when we eat at home with our families. All snacks, provided by the colony are eaten at home as well.
For the most part, whatever is in a family’s home is considered private property. But it’s very common for people to share of that with others when the need arises.
Our problems are similar to those of non-Hutterites; these days it seems technology is heavy on many minds. It’s here to stay, however we have to be mindful of how much time is spent with things like video games, movies, cell phones…especially where children are concerned. We try to instill from a young age not to abuse these things.
Hutterites are known to be very sociable people, enjoying interactions with other people, Hutterites and non-Hutterites alike. So it’s very disturbing when we see children and your people spending too much time staring at a screen for long periods of time, which tends to block others out, which is never a good thing.
Children & School
Our children have the best play area one could wish for; huge playgrounds, wooded areas to explore nature and run around in, and all their friends are always nearby. Children love to be around animals, and there’s ample opportunity for that, since each colony is a big farm with chickens, cows, turkeys, duck, geese or horses. Many times children work alongside their dad or another adult and learn about taking care of the animals.
Each colony has its own school. And they’re within walking distance for each child. In many colonies we also have our own Hutterite people who are the teachers. In most colonies, though there are non-Hutterite people, hired by the school divisions, who come to the colony to teach.
Meals are prepared for everybody three times daily. For example, I work in our school and do not have to worry about what to cook or prepare a lunch to take along with me. I simply go to the communal kitchen at the set time and enjoy delicious homemade meals and pastries!
Admittedly, as this is such a normal part of our everyday life, we tend to take it for granted. Until, we stop and think about it, for example as I’m writing this post. That so much is done for us daily, truly is a blessing.
One of the things that is key to our life of faith is worshiping together with our fellow brothers and sisters. We have evening church services a few times during the week and a morning and evening service on Sundays. Children and young people attend Sunday school.
The joys of this way of life are endless. Our people are taken care of by their family from the cradle to the grave; no one has to worry who will take care of them when they get sick or old. Someone is always there to help, most often it is immediate family.
I’m happy to say, many of the questions that came up on the post where I introduced Hutterite Diaries will be answered in that book. It’s exciting to see how many are interested in our way of life.
Thanks so much
Our Church faces much the same issues. I appreciate your sharing about technology and we feel much the same. Our Church is Amish-Mennonite so we use words like “Standard” instead of “Ordnung” and in our standards we have limitations on technology. We do not oppose it entirely but we see the potential for evil in the fact that the games and such can take away from personal interaction and family communication.
My family has enjoyed watching an online video with the title “What happened when some Hutterites were born again?” I think Flat Willow is the name of that community. It is an older video with a tone similar to The Amish A People of Preservation.
Also, I have really enjoyed listening to sermons by Reuben Walter, who is the preacher for Fort Pitt Farms Christian Community in Saskatchewan. That community has a website with pictures of their colony. I have appreciated learning more about Hutterites from these two sources. I wonder if Linda is familiar with either of these colonies?
I know that these colonies exist, Naomi, but don’t know anybody there.
Thank you Linda, for taking the time to fill us in on the details. It’s nice to learn more about you and your community. Wishing you all the best with your book!
I’ve enjoyed reading about the Hutterites as well. I had never heard of Hutterites until about 3 or 4 years ago.
I think there is much to admire about communal living and I considered living a communal life many years ago, but never took the steps to do so.
I know its a huge blessing and relief for anyone to know that they will be well taken care of by their own community when they are old. Or when they are not so old too..
In our plain, car Mennonite Church, we have the same concerns about technology and have all internet access through a mandatory filtered server, with strict limits on what we can access as well as time limits. All smart phones are connected through the same filter. Our conference report requires that computers be used for business purposes and that all games be removed. Excessive texting also is discouraged.
Some time if we ever get to tour the west by car, we do want to visit a Hutterite community. We have so many things in common and yet so many significant differences. Thanks for taking the time to share with us, Linda.
Hope it’s not too late for questions —
1. Is there still a Hutterite colony in Nigeria? How’s it doing?
2. What are Hutterite customs around dating and marriage? Does a Hutterite ever marry an outsider, and remain Hutterite?
3. Anything equivalent to “rumspringa” in the Hutterite community