The quiet in the Scandinavian land
Three Swedes considered joining Amish in U.S. but decided to follow Old Order ways on their ownBy Tim Huber Mennonite World Review
On a farmstead outside Skövde in southern Sweden, a group of Anabaptists is regularly mistaken for wayward Amish.
From the beards, hats and head coverings to the farm implements run only on Belgian draft horsepower, the visual similarities are extensive.
“We saw in the various Old Order groups living in North America a great example of how to live out Christianity just as the Bible teaches,” said Daniel Placzek, one of three Anabaptists who have lived a plain lifestyle for three years on about 80 acres of fields, pastures and forest.
Placzek, who grew up Catholic in Germany, wanted to live simply — farming by hand and horse, producing ecologically sound products while being nearly self-sufficient.
“We believe God says in the Bible we need to work with the land,” he said, citing the Ordnung (Order), a set of community principles used in some Anabaptist groups. “We should manage the earth, as farmers with horse and plow.”
He encountered similar sentiment in Sweden with others from Lutheran background, and the group gave serious consideration to simply emigrating to a U.S. Amish community.
“For us, the churches we encountered [in Europe] didn’t offer the original gospel we wanted to live,” he said.
They ultimately established a farm community, which they call Arvidstorp, and have dedicated themselves to creating a hybrid lifestyle unique to both Europe and Anabaptism.
They imported Amish farming implements from the U.S. and acquired books and other material from Gary Waltner at the German Mennonite Research Center in Weierhof.
Foundational books include Martyrs Mirror and Ernsthafte Christenpflicht, the first complete and self-contained German prayer book for Mennonites, first published in 1739. In biweekly worship services they sing a cappella from the Ausbund German hymnal and also pray in German, but the sermon is read in Swedish. Much emphasis is given to Anabaptist writings from the 16th and 17th centuries.
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