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California Mennonites

Brian Froese

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How did California Mennonites confront the challenges and promises of modernity?

Books about Mennonites have centered primarily on the East Coast and the Midwest, where the majority of Mennonite communities in the United States are located. But these narratives neglect the unique history of the multitude of Mennonites living on the West Coast. In California Mennonites, Brian Froese relies on archival church records to examine the Mennonite experience in the Golden State, from the nineteenth-century migrants who came in search of sunshine and fertile soil to the traditionally agrarian community…

How did California Mennonites confront the challenges and promises of modernity?

Books about Mennonites have centered primarily on the East Coast and the Midwest, where the majority of Mennonite communities in the United States are located. But these narratives neglect the unique history of the multitude of Mennonites living on the West Coast. In California Mennonites, Brian Froese relies on archival church records to examine the Mennonite experience in the Golden State, from the nineteenth-century migrants who came in search of sunshine and fertile soil to the traditionally agrarian community that struggled with issues of urbanization, race, gender, education, and labor in the twentieth century to the evangelically oriented, partially assimilated Mennonites of today.

Froese places Mennonite experiences against a backdrop of major historical events, including World War II and Vietnam, and social issues, from labor disputes to the evolution of mental health care. California Mennonites include people who embrace a range of ideologies: many are historically rooted in the sixteenth-century Reformation ideals of the early Anabaptists (pacifism, congregationalism, discipleship); some embrace twentieth-century American evangelicalism (missions, Billy Graham); and others are committed to a type of social justice that involves forging practical ties to secular government programs while maintaining a quiet connection to religion.

Through their experiences of religious diversity, changing demographics, and war, California Mennonites have wrestled with complicated questions of what it means to be American, Mennonite, and modern. This book—the first of its kind—will appeal to historians and religious studies scholars alike.

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California Mennonites

Brian Froese

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Reviews

Reviews

Immediate audience for this book will be those with an interest in Mennonite history, others will find it useful as a case study of the effort of a religious group to relate to a new and very different cultural environment.

Sobering, insightful and witty... Froese's treatment of these complex religious transformations is well-balanced, even-handed and well-documented... A solid contribution to the growing understanding of the ways that faith communities engage their worlds and continue to transform.

An insightful study of the California Mennonite story.

Brian Froese's new history of California Mennonites tackles the vagaries of 'secular Mennonitism' with a scholarly precision not accessible to most undergraduates... California Mennonites is a welcome addition to the blossoming historiography of American Mennonite and Amish culture.

In describing California Mennonites’ creatively navigated embrace of modernity, Froese moves them from the margins to the center of the American Mennonite experience. His book will remain the standard on the subject for years to come.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
368
ISBN
9781421415123
Illustration Description
30 halftones, 3 maps
Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Going to California: The Mennonite Migration
2. Alone in the Garden: Boosters, Migrants, and Refugees
3. Urban Dystopia and Divine Nature: The Early Mennonite Colonies
4

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Going to California: The Mennonite Migration
2. Alone in the Garden: Boosters, Migrants, and Refugees
3. Urban Dystopia and Divine Nature: The Early Mennonite Colonies
4. Outsiders from Within: Defining California Mennonite Identity
5. New Neighbors: Confronting Racial and Religious Pluralism
6. From Sewing Circles to Missionary Societies: The Public Roles of Women in the Church
7. Peaceful Patriots: California Mennonites during World War II
8. Socially Active Mennonitism and Mental Health: The Origins of Kings View Homes
9. Feeding the Hungry: A Story of Piety and Professionalization
10. Protect and Assimilate: Evangelical Education in California
11. Labor Tensions: Mennonite Growers, the United Farm Workers, and the Farm Labor Problem
12. From Digging Gold to Saving Souls: The Transformation of California Mennonite Identity
Epilogue: A New Breed of Mennonites
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Brian Froese
Featured Contributor

Brian Froese

Brian Froese is an associate professor of history at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Manitoba.