Ixheim, a village south of Zweibrücken, Palatinate, Germany, now a suburb of the city, was the seat of a former Amish congregation which had some members living in the adjacent province of Lorraine, France. Until 1814 Zweibrücken was the capital of a duchy. After the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) the dukes of Zweibrücken, in order to rebuild their sorely devastated land, accepted persons who were suffering religious persecution. Thus in 1648 Swiss Mennonites were already finding their way to Zweibrücken. In 1712, when Louis XIV expelled the Mennonites from Alsace, some of the expellees came to Lorraine and to Zweibrücken, most of them from the principality of Rappoltstein. From that time on, the Zweibrücken congregation was an independent organization. It was represented at the conference in Essingen in 1759 by Jakob Steinmann and Uli Bachmann, in 1779 by Andreas Leyenberger, Jakob Bachmann, and Jakob Dettweiler. In the records of both conferences it is called the Zweibrücken congregation but in several issues of the [[Naamlijst der tegenwoordig in dienst zijnde predikanten der Mennoniten in de Vereenigde Nederlanden|Naamlijst ]](e.g., 1769, 1784) it is called Hirschberg-Kirschbach, possibly after certain villages in which the meetings were most frequently held in the homes of members. When the Palatinate passed into French hands in 1797 many of the Ixheim people emigrated to Bavaria, and with them, some from Lorraine and Lower Alsace. The prefect of the Moselle region writes in 1803: "The emigration of these Anabaptist farmers would be disastrous, for they are the most competent, and in general they are very obedient to the law. Several families from the region of Zweibrücken have already been lured to Bavaria by the elector, their former ruler, and he is planning to bring as many as possible into his new state."
In the course of the 19th century emigration continued. Many went to the interior of France; many a French Mennonite family of today stems from Zweibrücken. Others went to America. In spite of all this, the church maintained itself. Meetings were held in the scattered homes on both sides of the border. In 1844, when a division took place in the congregation, one party of' 17 families built a small church at Ixheim, while the remaining families met on the Stuppacherhof near Hornbach, and later rented a hall in Zweibrücken (Mennonitische Blätter (1859) 15), where they continued to meet until the death of their last elder, Christian Stalter, in 1909. After that they all met together at Ixheim. About this time several families joined them from the Bitscherland congregation in Alsace which had been dissolved about 1902. After World War I the remnants of the latter congregation formed a new organization at Saargemund. The Ixheim congregation was incorporated in 1912.
The Ixheim Amish long maintained their distinctive practices: lay preachers, beards, strict shunning, feetwashing (some of the older members until 1932). And although hooks and eyes were discarded by 1880, the Ixheim members were long called Häftler and the nearby Ernstweiler Mennonite members Knöpfler (buttoners). In 1859 Ixheim had 141 members; the preachers were Christian Oesch, Christian Stalter, and Christian Gingerich, and the deacon was Georg Guth. The congregation was fully organized as Ixheim in 1884. In 1937 the baptized membership was 134, with Christian Guth as elder (since 1907), and Otto Schertz and Georg Nafziger as preachers; the congregation was at that time called Ixheim-Saar, since it included the remnant of the Saar congregation. On 17 January 1937 the Ixheim and Ernstweiler congregations met jointly, agreed to merge the proceeds from the sale of their properties, and established a single congregation called "Mennonitengemeinde Zweibrücken." Hugo Scheffler, pastor of Ernstweiler, served as pastor until the appointment of Theo Hotel of Kaiserslautern in 1952. This was the last Amish Mennonite congregation to merge with the South German Mennonite Conference. The Ixheim meetinghouse still stood as a private dwelling in the 1950s.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: II, 448 f.
Scheffler, Hugo. "Vereinigung Ixheim-Ernstweiler." Mennonitischer Gemeinde-Kalender (1939): 71-81.
|John A. Hostetler|
Cite This Article
Sommer, Pierre and John A. Hostetler. "Ixheim (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 21 Oct 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ixheim_(Rheinland-Pfalz,_Germany)&oldid=95387.
Sommer, Pierre and John A. Hostetler. (1957). Ixheim (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 October 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ixheim_(Rheinland-Pfalz,_Germany)&oldid=95387.
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