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The Mennonite Trek to Central AsiaApocalyptic Debacle or Christian-Muslim Paradigm?
Three Phases of the Story The migration & settlement of Mennonites in Central Asia The Prevailing Narrative: Apocalyptic D...
The Trek - BackgroundMennonites moved east since theReformation (1530’s to 1800’s): Netherlands to Prussia to Russia Searc...
The Trek - BackgroundMany felt their new refuge was further eastThe East = refuge from the Tribulation, siteof the Second ...
The Trek - InfluencesHeimweh (Homesickness)A novel by HeinrichJung Stilling, 1794 The hero, Christian von Ostenheim, finds a...
The Trek - Influences History of the Defenseless Baptism-Minded Community* Martin Klaassen, 1874   “Very likely in one of t...
The Trek - Influences            Claas Epp Jr.            1838 - 1913            “This place of refuge is            not in...
The Trek - Influences           Claas Epp Jr.           1838 - 1913            Islam would be “wiped            away” befor...
The Trek
The Trek
The TrekMany settled in Russian Turkestan(Kyrgyzstan)Most ardent “Bride Community” memberswent to Khiva (Uzbekistan)Of tho...
Khiva
Khiva        Claas Epp Jr. became        Increasingly radical         Character from Book         of Revelation         He...
Khiva Settlement: AkMetchet Claas Epp’s influence waned after failed prophecies Mennonites remained in Khiva until 1935 Bot...
Apocalyptic debacle? Prevailing narrative since the trek:  Focus on erroneous apocalyptic beliefs,  hardships of the trekk...
Apocalyptic debacle? C. Henry Smith, Mennonite Historian:  “Mennonites have been unusually  susceptible to unwholesome infl...
Apocalyptic debacle? Walter Unger, Fmr. Pres. of Columbia Bible College, BC:  “Contemporary prophecy teachers who read  cu...
Apocalyptic debacle?Karen Schmidt,Trek Descendant:(click here to play video)            “Why did first-cousins marry?”
Christian-Muslim paradigm? Recent contact between North American Mennonites and Uzbeks yield new evidence Mennonites had a...
Christian-Muslim paradigm? Modernizing influence in Khiva  Photography  and filmmaking
Christian-Muslim paradigm? Modernizing influence in Khiva:  Photography and filmmaking  Cotton production  Electricity  Arch...
Christian-Muslim paradigm?New Sacred Symbols Mosque in Serabulak, Uzbekistan
Christian-Muslim paradigm? New Sacred Symbols  Parquet floor at Khan’s palace
Christian-Muslim paradigm? New Sacred Symbols  Mennonite well at Ak Metchet
Christian-Muslim paradigm?Norman Epp:“Release ClaasEpp from thestigma...”(click here to play video)  New Sacred Symbols   ...
Christian-Muslim paradigm? Four Mennonite pilgrimages to Khiva since 2007 Local imam “prays to” Ak Metchet Mennonites ever...
Christian-Muslim paradigm? Khivan Mennonite Colony: An example of a peaceful, long-term Muslim- Christian cooperation and ...
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The Mennonite Trek to Khiva: Apocalyptic Debacle or Christian-Muslim Paradigm

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In the 1880’s hundreds of Mennonites from South Russia migrated to the Silk Road kingdom of Khiva. Their leaders, including Claas Epp Jr., taught that Central Asia would be the the promised refuge from the Tribulation, and the place of the Second Coming of Christ in 1889. Those who remained in Khiva long after the prophecies failed had a modernizing influence in the khanate. They also formed long-term, positive relationships among the Khiva’s elite. A dichotomy has emerged in how these Mennonites are regarded. For more than a century, Mennonites in the North America have portrayed the migration to Central Asia as a cautionary tale against radical eschatology. However, some historians now also view the Mennonites of Khiva as modernizers and an example of Europeans who came not to conquer, but to share their friendship and knowledge with their Muslim neighbors.

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The Mennonite Trek to Khiva: Apocalyptic Debacle or Christian-Muslim Paradigm

  1. 1. The Mennonite Trek to Central AsiaApocalyptic Debacle or Christian-Muslim Paradigm?
  2. 2. Three Phases of the Story The migration & settlement of Mennonites in Central Asia The Prevailing Narrative: Apocalyptic Debacle The Emerging Narrative: Christian-Muslim Paradigm
  3. 3. The Trek - BackgroundMennonites moved east since theReformation (1530’s to 1800’s): Netherlands to Prussia to Russia Search for self governance and freedom from military service 1870’s: Russia threatens to end exemptions Thousands move west to North America
  4. 4. The Trek - BackgroundMany felt their new refuge was further eastThe East = refuge from the Tribulation, siteof the Second Coming of ChristAbout 1,000 migrated to Central Asiabetween 1880 and 1884
  5. 5. The Trek - InfluencesHeimweh (Homesickness)A novel by HeinrichJung Stilling, 1794 The hero, Christian von Ostenheim, finds a utopian refuge in Central Asia
  6. 6. The Trek - Influences History of the Defenseless Baptism-Minded Community* Martin Klaassen, 1874 “Very likely in one of the lands of the rising sun, toward that direction God will rescue the little company of his own ... and exalt them on the Rock until his wrath and holy judgments will have passed.”*Geschichte der wehrlosen taufgesinnten Gemeinde
  7. 7. The Trek - Influences Claas Epp Jr. 1838 - 1913 “This place of refuge is not in the legally organized part of Russia ... This points us to the free area of the khanates of inner Asia, and to no other place in the world.”
  8. 8. The Trek - Influences Claas Epp Jr. 1838 - 1913 Islam would be “wiped away” before Tribulation Second Coming: 8 March 1889 “Bride Community” would prepare the way for True Believers
  9. 9. The Trek
  10. 10. The Trek
  11. 11. The TrekMany settled in Russian Turkestan(Kyrgyzstan)Most ardent “Bride Community” memberswent to Khiva (Uzbekistan)Of those who first went to Khiva, halfmigrated to North America in 1884
  12. 12. Khiva
  13. 13. Khiva Claas Epp Jr. became Increasingly radical Character from Book of Revelation Held Ascension Ceremony Godhead = Father Son, Holy Spirit, Claas Epp
  14. 14. Khiva Settlement: AkMetchet Claas Epp’s influence waned after failed prophecies Mennonites remained in Khiva until 1935 Both Talas Valley and Ak Metchet Mennonites shed apocalyptic views (mostly) Most descendants now live in Germany, U.S. and Canada
  15. 15. Apocalyptic debacle? Prevailing narrative since the trek: Focus on erroneous apocalyptic beliefs, hardships of the trekkers Claas Epp singled out for responsibility Used as a warning against millennialism
  16. 16. Apocalyptic debacle? C. Henry Smith, Mennonite Historian: “Mennonites have been unusually susceptible to unwholesome influences of this sort … A number of times, undue stress upon chiliastic and apocalyptic views on the part of fanatical leaders has led to unfortunate results.”
  17. 17. Apocalyptic debacle? Walter Unger, Fmr. Pres. of Columbia Bible College, BC: “Contemporary prophecy teachers who read current events back into Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation are repeating Claas Epp’s error.”
  18. 18. Apocalyptic debacle?Karen Schmidt,Trek Descendant:(click here to play video) “Why did first-cousins marry?”
  19. 19. Christian-Muslim paradigm? Recent contact between North American Mennonites and Uzbeks yield new evidence Mennonites had a modernizing influence in Khiva Contemporary values regarding interfaith cooperation shape the reassessment of the trek
  20. 20. Christian-Muslim paradigm? Modernizing influence in Khiva Photography and filmmaking
  21. 21. Christian-Muslim paradigm? Modernizing influence in Khiva: Photography and filmmaking Cotton production Electricity Architecture
  22. 22. Christian-Muslim paradigm?New Sacred Symbols Mosque in Serabulak, Uzbekistan
  23. 23. Christian-Muslim paradigm? New Sacred Symbols Parquet floor at Khan’s palace
  24. 24. Christian-Muslim paradigm? New Sacred Symbols Mennonite well at Ak Metchet
  25. 25. Christian-Muslim paradigm?Norman Epp:“Release ClaasEpp from thestigma...”(click here to play video) New Sacred Symbols Mennonite well at Ak Metchet
  26. 26. Christian-Muslim paradigm? Four Mennonite pilgrimages to Khiva since 2007 Local imam “prays to” Ak Metchet Mennonites every spring for good crops Museum planned in old city of Khiva
  27. 27. Christian-Muslim paradigm? Khivan Mennonite Colony: An example of a peaceful, long-term Muslim- Christian cooperation and friendship

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