Amana Church Society

 

The Community of True Inspiration
Amana Church History
    In Europe in the 1600 and 1700's a number of scholars advocated spiritual awakening through prayer, self-examination and study, drawing closer to God through Jesus Christ. Two German men, Eberhard L. Gruber and Johann F. Rock were influenced by these scholars to begin their own search for religious understanding. Through their study and close association with other theological writers and teachers, Gruber and Rock came to believe that God communicates to his followers through inspired individuals as in the days of the Biblical prophets.

    Called instruments of the Lord, or "Werkzeug," in German, these individuals were inspired to speak or write through the Holy Spirit. The beginning of the Amana Church Society or as it was called in Germany, The Community of True Inspiration, can be traced back to 1714 when Gruber and Rock began writing about their beliefs and traveled throughout Germany and Switzerland forming small prayer groups. Strongly advocating that Christians spend time in prayer and sincere worship, the Inspirationist prayer groups met in one another's homes. Eventually a network of these small groups or communities formed, ties strengthened and were maintained through letters, the circulation of Inspirationist writings and inspired messages or testimonies. The community published the first of many editions of its own hymnal in 1718. The first hymnal contained 901 hymns by many song writers including hymns by Rock, Gruber and other community members.

    Rock, Gruber and other friends were persecuted for their beliefs. Because they criticized the established church and the church-run schools and advocated withdrawal from the state sanctioned church, they were perceived as a local threat by both the clergy and the government officials. Wherever they traveled in Germany and Switzerland, the Inspirationists were harassed, sometimes jailed, and even physically assaulted. Because of persecution, the Inspirationists moved to Hessen, Germany where a slightly more tolerant attitude prevailed. There they settled in several
estates, including the Ronneburg castle, near Büdingen. Following the death of Gruber in 1728, Rock maintained leadership as other Inspirationist community leaders emerged. After Rock's death in 1749, the community remained strong for several decades then fell into a period of decline. 

    In 1817 Michael Krausert started a revival or reawakening among members of the Inspirationist community. Krausert, a tailor from Strassburg, is the author of a book concerning "the peace which is promised to God's people." Barbara H. Landmann, an uneducated servant girl was given the gift of inspiration and taught for many years, stressing the need for spiritual rebirth in Jesus Christ. She and Krausert ushered in a period of renewed vigor within the Community of True Inspiration. Christian Metz of Neuwied am Rhein, a carpenter in his early 20's whose parents were members of the Community of True Inspiration, began his leadership in 1819 when he delivered the first of many inspired testimonies which began, "Gather, oh, gather all you souls and become truly still. Yes, become very still and attentive speaks Eternal Love… devote your youthful strength entirely to divine service. Only then can I, "speaks Jesus Christ", become magnificently evident and forcefully guide all things on their course."

    In 1842 the community determined that a move to America and the religious freedom it offered would be best, so Metz and three friends traveled to America and purchased 5,000 acres near Buffalo, New York for the community. Eventually, close to 1,000 Inspirationists abandoned their homeland and settled in this are, named Ebenezer. In 1855 the Ebenezer community again relocated, this time, to eastern Iowa, where seven villages were established, Amana, West Amana, South Amana, East Amana, Homestead, High Amana and Middle Amana, often called collectively the Amana Colonies.