New things I learned and experienced this summer #7
Early on April 12, 1528, members of the Anabaptist congregation in the German city of Augsburg gathered in the home of Susanna Doucher, located along the Bürgergässchen, for an Easter Sunday sunrise service.
At the time, Augsburg was a vibrant center of the Anabaptist movement in south Germany. Already in 1526, only a year after the first Anabaptist baptism in Zurich, the congregation had grown to include between 700 and 1,000 people, despite the fact that they were forced to meet in secret.
By 1527, the group had developed its own organization for poor relief, a regular Bible study for members, a rudimentary job-placement program for immigrants and a plan for training evangelists. At the same time, however, resistance to the movement from Augsburg and elsewhere was growing. During the fall of 1527, most of the leaders of the Augsburg congregation were arrested, tortured and banished, and the city issued dire warnings against anyone caught baptizing or meeting in secret.
Yet, despite these storm clouds on that April morning of 1528, the beleaguered congregation of Augsburg gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. At around 7 a.m., the police arrived and arrested all 88 members who were present. Many were later imprisoned, tortured, or banished. Although individual Anabaptists continued to live in the city, by the early 1530s the congregation in Augsburg had ceased to exist.
On April 12, 2013, 485 years later, the mayor of Augsburg gathered with a group of Mennonites, representatives from the Protestant church and Friedrich Aschoff, a 14th-generation direct descendant of Susanna Doucher, outside Susanna’s former home to unveil a plaque commemorating the Augsburg Anabaptists and the events that had taken place there.
Excerpts from an article by John Roth. Please read the entire article at: http://www.themennonite.org/issues/16-6/articles/The_Anabaptist_martyrs_are_not_dead
For me, one of the highlights of the pilgrimage this summer was finding this plaque after almost an hour of circling alleys and streets and asking locals who knew less than we did. There was a certain sense of adventure and intrigue, along with frustration, as we searched; the euphoria of finally seeing it was worth the search. The plaque and its location were rather ordinary, but I felt a strong connection to the congregation that met in this house 485 years ago. Thank-you for meeting, and passing on your faith.