Your cart is empty.
The Ältester - Herman D.W. Friesen, A Mennonite Leader in Changing Times

The Ältester

Herman D.W. Friesen, A Mennonite Leader in Changing Times

Paperback : 9780889775725, 324 pages, September 2018


Offering a unique window into the Old Colony Mennonite community in Saskatchewan, this biography of Herman D. W. Friesen reveals the life of a man who attempted to modernize his community, often in opposition to traditional religious beliefs.

The story begins on the Hague-Osler Mennonite reserve in the 1910s and 20s. At this time the government was pressuring Mennonite communities to send their children to province-run schools. This set off a series of migrations, in which Mennonites left for Mexico, Central America, and other parts of Canada.

During the watershed decade of the 1960s, Friesen was elected as a minister, and later as the Äeltester (Bishop). Despite growing up in an environment filled with intense governmental conflict and considerable suspicion towards “the English outsiders,” he did not try to organize another migration out of Saskatchewan. Instead, taking a unique approach to leadership, Friesen tried to navigate a gradual process of accommodation to the changes taking place in the province.

Included in the book are Friesen’s sermons, translated from German, providing a unique glimpse into the Old Colony Mennonite theology that aided him in guiding the church in a strategy of gradual cultural accommodation.



"Bruce Guenther is eminently qualified to tell this story. He is one of Herman’s fifty-four grandchildren and a gifted writer. " Royden Loewen, author of Horse and Buggy Genius: Listening to Mennonites Contest the Modern World

"A significant contribution [. ..]. One of the rare investigations of the Mennonite experience reaching into the 1960s. " Hans Werner, author of The Constructed Mennonite