|This page is a text version of the RM of Rhineland History Book. You can purchase a PDF copy of the book in our online store. The PDF copy is an exact page by page representation of the original book. This text version has been reformated for the web and contains text recognition mistakes. These mistakes do not appear in the purchased version. The purchased version also includes each image in the original book.|
Page Index of the RM of Rhineland History Book
Previous - Page 45 or Next - Page 47
clerical influence from the start. More and more the Reinlaender Church or Old Colony ministry came to be involved in disciplining members who did not co-operate in colony decisions.
The ultimate method of social control was the use of the ban or the excommunication of church members. In the struggle to retain the open-field village system and during the dispute over the introduction of municipal government, members who left the village or participated in municipal affairs after 1884 were excommunicated from the Church. The frequent and at times petty use of this method of discipline lessened its effectiveness as excommunicated members simply joined the Bergthaler Church and other villagers still associated with banned members. IS
Rules multiplied to cover minute details of daily life and many rules were simply sidestepped. One example of this concerned the introduction of bicycles onto the West Reserve. A bicycle owner was not allowed to become a member of the Reinlaender or Old Colony Church, so those wishing to join the church gave their bicycles away to friends or relatives. After baptism the bicycle was taken back and the Church member continued to use it. 19
In spite of these defections and evasions, the Church's power of excommunication made it, for many years, the supreme authority in the settling of disputes and regulating social conduct. This was reflected in the social stratification, with the bishops and ministers at the top of Mennonite society. On the second rung of the social ladder were the members of the village government who were the connection between the secular and the religious in the village. These village leaders ultimately derived their power from the beliefs of the church. Below them were the ordinary farmers of the village and at the bottom were the Anwohner or landless.
The church was not only involved in colony government, but was the basis of many of the Mennonite social institutions. One such carry over from Russia to Manitoba was the Brandordnung or Fire Insurance. It was organized by region and church. Each central administration was headed by the Brandaeltester, district fire chief, with each village having a Brandschulze and three assessors. It was compulsory to insure one half of the assessed value and permissible to insure up to two-thirds of the assessed value.
Among the Old Colony each member was obliged to have a long fire hook, ladder and lantern and to make sure that the chimney was kept