Friday, 7 December 2012

"I am Hutterite" -Book recommendation.

Some years ago I wrote about a couple of Hutterite women who work in a local supermarket, and retain their traditional dress.  This is anomalous since Hutterite people live in “colonies”, and there is no such colony in this neck of the woods.

I had a brief conversation with the older of the two women (it turns out that they are aunt and niece).  She was more than a wee bit surprised that I knew of Jacob Hutter. In common with other Hutterites she is very reserved; therefore I have not pressed her for more of her story.

Last week whilst I was browsing at Sarasota’s Fruitville Library I glimpsed a title, which then caught my attention.

The book is “I am Hutterite”, by Mary-Ann Kirkby (Thomas Nelson 2010).

It is a delightfully nuanced memoir about growing up in Hutterite Colonies in Canada: - (New Rosedale and Fairholme, in Manitoba).

Mary-Ann’s parents made the fateful decision to leave the colony and with it everything that was familiar, lovely, and tender. They were also leaving what they believed to be autocratic and arbitrary leadership.

The book speaks of the joys of  life in the colony, and of the struggles and hardships the family endured when they left.

Mary-Ann writes with pure affection about life in the Hutterite community – and of the difficulty of adjusting to life amongst the “English” when her family left.

("English"  is how Hutterites, and also Amish refer to people in the outside world). 

(Amish and Hutterite folks refer to others as  “English” , because in both Hutterite and Amish communities older German dialects are the lingua franca).


1. Although Hutterites and Amish trace their origins to the radical wing of the European Reformation they have no common history. (The Amish emerged from the Mennonites when they perceived that the latter were getting too lax!).

2. Hutterites do not “shun” those who choose to leave.

I recommend this gracious book  (and will return my copy to the Sarasota Library on Saturday 8th December 2012)

For more information see:


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