(Nov 1993), Professor John Hostetler, author of the book Hutterite Society,
traveled in Canada with several men from a non-Hutterite religious communal
group that he has known for a number of years.
He contacted me and said that I might want to get acquainted with these
people. He gave me the name and
address of a couple that live in northeastern Washington (Ted and Peggy Lakman,
Ione, WA). As a result, we became
very interested in getting to know this group.
I called the colony boss at South Peace Hutterite colony, Dawson Creek,
BC who said that these people are located about 75 miles north of the South
Peace colony and they visit back and forth.
He said that they are 'good people'.
I also called Art Katz (Christian writer) in Minnesota.
He has spoken at their conventions.
Art said that he has some differences with them but they are strong
Christians. So I felt that I should
visit these communities (called The Move of the Spirit, and also Sam Fife's
people), along with a long overdue visit to the Hutterite elders in Alberta.
1/8/94 8:24am Left our community at Fan Lake, WA, for Alberta.
It snowed about 2 inches last night and was still snowing when I left.
Driving our 1992 Dodge mini-van by myself.
Charles Hutchins, founder of the Hospitality House in Wenatchee, was to
go with me but called three days ago to say that he was unable to come at this
Stopped at Bonners Ferry, ID, for a cup of coffee and to call home to
check on Shelly. Bonners Ferry is
80 miles from Fan Lake. Still
snowing. Roads are a bit difficult.
At one place, I came around a sharp curve in the road and saw a large
big-horned sheep in the road, licking the salt off the pavement.
He didn't move as I drove by in the other lane.
Arrived at the BC-Alberta border. The
snow had stopped by the time I had crossed the US-Canada border.
1/8/94 2:52pm Riverside Colony
Arrived at Pincher Creek (city) in southwestern Alberta where I got gas
for the car. Pincher Creek is 289 miles from Fan Lake (closer than
Seattle). Very little snow in
southern Alberta. Drove to
Riverside Hutterite colony where I spent an hour or so visiting at the colony
boss (Haushalter), Joe Tschetter vetter's house.
Joe, his wife Lydia, sister Martha, son Steve and others were there. Spoke with their mother, Katie-bal, who's husband Joe vetter
(Prediger or minister) passed into eternity on Jan 1st.
They had been married 53 years. Katie-bal
has always been an inspiration to me and now she is grieving over the loss of
her long-time partner.
1/8/94 5:05pm Raley Colony
Arrived at Raley Hutterite colony in time for church, which had just
started (6pm their time). After supper in the colony kitchen, spent the evening at
Elias Waldner's house (his wife Esther was gone to visit a daughter in another
colony). David Waldner vetter (the
minister) and others came over. Elias
told me that we, at Fan Lake, were in a sinking ship because we were not living
in an ethnic Hutterite colony... Stayed
overnight at Elias's house (in my usual room).
It is always a joy to visit Raley Colony.
Elias vetter seems to regularly have many grandchildren in his house,
which are such a blessing. Their
father, old Samuel Waldner, passed into eternity in 1990 at the age of 95.
He invariably showed such a concern for me and had urged me to start an
'English' colony (a colony for converts) as he said, 'That's the only way that I
can see that will work.' I visited
him several days before he died. He
told me then, 'Jesus is my life, dying is my gain.'
1/9/94 Sunday Raley Colony
Breakfast in the colony kitchen at 7am, church from 9am to 10:45, lunch
at 11am (local time). Talked with David vetter.
He said that the Hutterites were waiting for us (Fan Lake) to get more
members before they could accept us. He
also said that we should come to Raley to live for a time.
I told him that there was seven adults at our community, including two
1/9/94 Sunday afternoon Old Elm Colony
Left Raley colony and drove to Old Elm Hutterite colony and met with
Isaac Wurz vetter (the colony minister and an elder of the Lehrerleut Hutterite
and his wife. They are old friends
with deep spiritual insight. Isaac
vetter told me that he had met Paul Gross, minister at Espanola colony near
Spokane, a year ago and Paul vetter said to him, 'Why did you tell Don Murphy
that I should baptize him?'. I
responded to Isaac vetter that Paul vetter must have mixed him up with John Wurz
vetter of Wilson who had told me that. Isaac
vetter's advice to me was that the Dariusleut Hutterite conference should follow
up on their word to me. If John
Wurz vetter tells me to go start an 'English' colony then they should follow up
on it. Asked Isaac vetter if he
knew of the communities north of our Dawson Creek colony but he didn't.
He had read my letter in the Sept 93 issue of KIT.
Spent about an hour with him.
1/9/94 Sunday evening Wilson Colony
Arrived at Wilson Hutterite colony just in time for supper.
Met John Wurz Jr (second colony minister) as he was bringing supper from
the kitchen for him and his elderly father (John Sr, the first colony minister
and the head elder of the Dariusleut Hutterite conference).
After supper in the colony kitchen, I visited with John Sr and John Jr
for a while. John vetter seems to
be in good health (he will be 93 years old in May) but only talked for a little
while. He showed me a calendar that
he received from Japan and then he went to lay down in another room.
John Jr said that there will be a minister's conference in February and
they will discuss our situation. John
Jr also said that we should go and join the Schoonover colony in Washington.
Katie-bal from Keho Lake colony was there and we talked about the Owa
in Japan (where we had visited together some years ago).
When I went to say good-bye to John Sr vetter, he said that we should
join the Owa colony. I reminded him that he had said that about six years ago and
that Owa was not accepting new members. Katie-bal
said that she would speak with her husband (George Wurz vetter, minister at Keho
colony and son of John Sr) about that. Left
Wilson about 7pm for Lakeside colony (12 miles away).
It suddenly got very cold this afternoon. The temperature dropped from
about 25 to -4 in a short period.
1/9/94 Sunday evening Lakeside Colony
Arrived at Lakeside Hutterite colony and met with Joe Wipf vetter
(minister) and his wife Kathrina-bal. Helped
Joe vetter with his computer (backed up his address book databases and his
family book databases - they never get backed up except when I or Pat (my son)
do it for him).
Had my meals at Joe vetter's house and stayed over night there (in my
usual room). Kathrina-bal is using
a cane and doesn't get around very much these days.
Lakeside and stopped briefly at their new colony 3 miles north.
Sam vetter, the minister, showed me around.
His son, Leonard, who was the electrician at Lakeside, is now the boss at
this new colony. The place is very
impressive, all new buildings, modern hog barns, big kitchen.
The kitchen, school and church are all in the same, large building.
1/10/94 Byemoore Colony
Arrived at Byemoore Hutterite colony in north central Alberta where there
is lots of snow (blowing and drifting) and is very cold.
Met with Mike Stahl vetter and his wife.
Mike vetter is the assistant head elder of the Dariusleut conference of
the Hutterian Brethren Church. He
is elderly (83), but in good health and active.
Gave him a report of our situation at our Fan Lake colony where we have
been for nearly four years. I told
Mike vetter that we needed help, that our colony was too small.
I asked Mike vetter if we could be invited to the next minister's
conference. He said that would be
Ok. He also said that it would be
Ok if we used the name 'Hutterian' in our corporate name. Also asked him about the non-Hutterite communities north of
Dawson Creek but he did not know of them. His
wife Sarah-bal told me to tell my son Pat that the young man Mike, who shared a
room with Pat (when Pat was at Byemoore), got married and now has a beard.
This Mike came by later and sends greetings to Pat.
overnight at Mike vetter's house at Byemoore colony and ate in the colony
kitchen. My next destination was
the South Peace Hutterite colony at Dawson Creek, BC, where I had never been
before. I could not find anyone at
Byemoore who had been there either and they didn't know the way but they thought
it was about a six hour drive. The
roads are icy and snow covered. After
driving about six hours, I was about 200 miles northwest of Edmonton and
realized that I still had a long ways to go to get to the South Peace colony.
It was about 3pm and getting dark (gets dark early this far north).
So I checked my map of the Alberta Hutterite colonies and found that
Valley View Hutterite colony was nearby. I
had never been there before and didn't know anyone there.
The man at the gas station in the town of Valley View gave me directions
and I drove out to the Valley View colony just as it was getting dark.
1/11/94 Valley View Colony
When I first arrived, I wasn't sure that I wanted to stay at the Valley
View Hutterite colony. The place did not look too prosperous and the first man that
I met did not seem to welcome me. But
then I met others, including Eli Tschetter (the minister), his brother Sam (the
boss), and their brother Wally, all young men.
They had gone through a lot of tribulations. Eight families had left to join a cult (called the 'Two By
Twos') and left the colony in bankruptcy. The old minister died. Then Eli broke
both of his legs and next he lost the sight in his left eye.
All this had resulted in him drawing close to God.
Others in the colony also responded by turning to the Lord, including
Wally, a single man who had left the colony but returned.
I was very impressed with their response to the trials and tribulations
that they had gone through. The people at Valley View Colony were a great
blessing to me. I stayed at Eli's
house (he moved out of his bedroom for me) and I ate my meals at his house (as I
was older than him, he asked me to say the blessings before and after the
meals). He suggested that I meet
with John Wipf vetter (an elder of the Lehrerleut) at Twilight colony (located
north of them). So I made plans to
visit him on the way back.
left Valley View Colony in a snow storm. The
temperate was about -15 degrees. I
could hardly see the road. I prayed
that I would not be troubled by the many large trucks that travel on the
highway. The Lord heard my prayer
and I was not troubled by trucks that entire day!
That whole morning, I was so elated over my visit to Valley View colony
that I was singing and praising God for a long time. During this time I glanced down at my speedometer and found
that I was doing 70 mph in a snow storm on an icy highway! That didn't bother me but I did slow down to a reasonable
speed. And a short time later, I
realized that I hadn't encountered any trucks since I had prayed.
Then I remembered the words in the Bible, "you have not because you
ask not" and it occurred to me that if God can answer my prayer about the
trucks, He can also control the weather. So
I prayed to God to clear up the weather. Within
a few minutes, the visibility went from a few yards to ten miles or more!
It remained that way for the rest of the day!
1/12/94 South Peace Colony
I stopped at the Dodge dealer in Dawson Creek and purchased a car engine
heater as it was so cold. Arrived
at the South Peace Colony Hutterite just before dark.
The South Peace Colony has 122 members (many school children) and farms
20,000 acres located in a triangle with two very large rivers on two sides. They are a very impressive colony. Every thing is large scale and neat and clean (as is
customary in a Hutterite colony). Met
Mike vetter (the second minister) and then Peter Hofer vetter (the first
minister) who is in a wheelchair due to a broken leg.
Felt very stressed during church and then after supper in the colony
kitchen, got into a heated discussion at Peter Tschetter's house (the colony
boss) concerning a newspaper that they receive.
It is published by a right-wing Catholic organization and contains all
kinds of garbage. (Was that the
reason for the stress that I felt during church?)
1/13/94 South Peace Colony
The next morning, at South Peace colony, breakfast was like the previous
supper. There was no talking during
the meal. Everyone was dressed in
their church clothes. They ate quickly and then sat in absolute silence for a
minute or two before the closing prayer was said.
Meals are like a church service, like a sacred occasion.
After breakfast, Peter vetter (the boss) showed me their sheep and cattle
operations. They have 600 sheep
that are protected by three large guard dogs which live with the sheep day and
night. They use collies for herding
the sheep. Peter vetter also showed
me their school, which has two teachers and is part of the local school system.
They have several neighbor children who attend their school.
One of the teachers lives in a house on the colony. The other lives in
town. One of the boys at the colony
installed the heater in the car for me and filled it with gas before I left.
1/13/94 Shepherd's Inn
Drove to Shepherd's Inn which is at Mile 72 on the Alaska Highway (which
means that it is 72 miles north of Dawson Creek).
Shepherd's Inn is a small community of about 60 people, most of whom live
in mobile homes behind the church building.
The church building is located just behind the motel-gas
station-restaurant named Shepherd's Inn which is owned by the community.
Got directions at the Shepherd's Inn for Blue Berry Farm.
Shepherd's Inn and Blue Berry Farm are two of the communities of the late
Sam Fife's group.
1/13/94 Blue Berry Farm
Arrived at Blue Berry Farm just as they were finished eating lunch in the
community kitchen (they call it the Tabernacle).
You leave your outdoor shoes (or boots) in the hall way.
Most people have a set of indoor shoes that they keep there.
Inside was very noisy, about
a hundred or more of men, women and children were standing around and talking.
Everyone is dressed just like the people in town except you do not see
any beards on the men (strange in this north country) and nor do you see any
pants on the women. Met Dave
Smillie and John Austin, two of the elders.
They said that they were expecting me and took me over to Dave Smillie's
house, a large log building on the side of the hill. Dave said that the building belongs to the community but he
owns the furniture in the house (very nice furniture). Their electricity is provided by the community's own
generator and goes off at night (except during very cold weather).
They have running water in most of the houses but do not have flush
1/14/94 Blue Berry Farm
Breakfast at the Austin's house. They
live in a large log house on the second floor (enter by an outside doorway).
There are 16 people living there, including a 16 year old boy from Japan.
John asked me to share after the meal so I read briefly from a Hutterite
sermon (Mt 5:1-12). We then went to
the Tabernacle which had been set up for a meeting.
The tables were put aside and the chairs arranged in rows. A man from Scotland, Bobby Owens, was at Blue Berry Farm for
three weeks teaching daily (sometimes twice daily) on the Tabernacle of Moses.
Before he started, there was singing for about 45 minutes (everyone
standing, very lively). Then Bobby
preached for an hour (he is an old time Pentecostal preacher).
The singing was wonderful. The
preaching was about what one would find in most Pentecostal churches.
1/15/94 Blue Berry Farm
Ate breakfast at the Austin house. John
asked me to share so I passed out the Hutterite song books and we sang a
Hutterite song. I felt concerned about the weather so I decided to leave
right after breakfast. Roger
Henshaw came over and helped me get the snow off the car.
He and his wife, Bertie, are wonderful people. It had been snowing and was very cold the past few days.
When I got to the road, the Alaska Highway, the visibility was very poor
and I was tired from lack of sleep the past three nights.
1/15/94 Shepherd's Inn
The highway was very bad, especially when you met one of those large
trucks. When they pass by, they
throw up such a cloud of snow that you can not see out of your windshield for a
while. Very dangerous driving.
When I got to Shepherd's Inn, I saw several large trucks parked there, so
I thought that if the driving was too bad for these trucks, maybe I had better
stop here for a while. There I met
Don and Dorothy Rutherford who manage the inn.
I called Peter vetter at South Peace colony.
He said that they had about 6" of new snow overnight, no vehicles
had gone out and the road hadn't been plowed in several days.
He said that he would call John vetter at Twilight colony (my destination
that day) to see how the roads are. He called back in about 20 minutes and said that John vetter
said that I'd better wait a day or two as their roads are blocked.
1/16/94 Shepherd's Inn
Breakfast at Don & Dorothy's house.
They have a wood stove heating the kitchen and Don said it was too hot in
there. Dorothy thought it was a bit
cold (which shows a common difference between men and women).
I described the situation of the Arnoldleuts a bit and told them that the
Arnoldleuts have two major organizational problems:
their decision making process is badly flawed (they do not decide major
questions by secret ballot but mostly just let their leader, a grandson of the
founder, decide everything) and they allow women to be leaders and decision
makers (contrary to the teachings of the New Testament).
LeDuc, AB, at 6am and drove to Ron Hoffmann's place near Carstairs.
His living conditions are about the same (no indoor plumbing).
His oldest daughter has left. He
seems to think that he is doing Ok. Drove
on to the Fairview colony and met with their minister, John Tschetter. Asked him to call me when the next minister's conference is
announced. Spent about an hour with
him. He suggested that I return
home by going west from Calgary, instead of south, so I did. Picked up three hitchhikers in Calgary.
It was very good to meet the people at
the Blue Berry Farm and the Shepherd's Inn.
How to describe them? I
think that the words in II Cor 6:17-18 describe them best:
out from among them, purify yourselves, says the Lord.
Do not touch anything unclean, and then I shall welcome you.
I shall be father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me, says
the almighty Lord."
They feel called out
of the world, with a strong desire to be clean before the Lord.
They want to hear His voice (John 10:16), and answer His call.
They believe, along with the Apostle Paul, that 'Christ in you, your hope
of glory' (Col 1:27). Your new-born spirit, born of the Father, the Spirit of
Christ, must grow within each child of God.
The growth of the Spirit of Christ within a person corresponds to the
death of carnal nature of the child of God.
We can only increase in Christ as we decrease in ourselves.
It seems to me that these people probably are like the Hutterites were at
the time of Jacob Hutter and Peter Reidemann
- very strong in faith and close to God.
Communities in northern BC going north
along the Alaska Highway:
about 60 people including 8 elders and 5 deacons
The people in all
the communities, except Shepherd's Inn, give 50 percent of their income to the
community. I understand that Blue
Berry Farm is moving to total community (giving up all private possessions).
Shepherd's Inn is moving that way also.
They seem to recognize that they can not have total unity with their
brothers and sisters as long as they hold on to their own possessions.
KIT is a publication for former members of the Society of Brothers, also
called the Arnoldleuts.
They have several communities located in the eastern United States
and were, for a time, united with the Hutterites.
to the South Peace Colony from Shepherds Inn:
Go 9 miles south from the Peace River bridge, just past a place that
looks like a Hutterite colony - its called South Peace Ranch, to the Tower
Lake Road. Turn
left there and to about two miles to the Tower Lake community hall, turn
right and go about two miles to an intersection, turn left and go about 12
miles to the colony.
about 10 miles north of the Shepherd's Inn is a rest area.
About 6 miles past the rest area, turn right.
Sign on stop sign says 'Mile 86'.
A short ways in is a sign for Blue Berry Farm.
Follow the road a couple miles to the creek, cross the creek to the
community just around the bend.
5:32 'Any one who marries a divorced woman commits adultery', Luke 14:33
'None of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions', I
Peter 3:3-4 and I Tim 2:9 'women are not to wear jewellery', I Cor 11:2-16
'head covering', I Tim 2:11-12 'woman is not to have authority over a man'.