After 89 editions since its original publication in German in 1708, this rich prayer book is now available to English speakers. The 62 prayers cover the gamut of human concerns, yet display a deep, abiding Anabaptist faith, using language replete with biblical phrases.
One of the best-kept publishing secrets is the existence of a small tome, Die ernsthafte Christenpflicht. It has gone through 87 known editions or reprints since the first known edition in 1708. This stands as the Amish and Mennonite book in North America with the most (64) editions or reprints.Now for the first time, all the prayers of the current edition of Christenpflicht have been translated by Leonard Gross and are available in English-including the seven prayers appended in the 1992 edition from the first (1846) Canadian edition. 152 Pages.
Leonard Gross, consulting archivist at the Archives of the Mennonite Church, served as executive secretary of the Historical Committee of the Mennonite Church and director of its archives and historical research program during 1970-1990.
Earlier, Gross worked with youth in North Germany on assignment with Mennonite Central Committee. He studied as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Basel, with doctoral studies in church history, general history, and New Testament.
Gross is the author of The Golden Years of the Hutterites, 1565-1578. He translated and edited Golden Apples in Silver Bowls, and cooperated to produce Selected Hutterian Documents in Translation, 1542-1654.
Leonard is a member of College Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana. He is married to Irene Geiser, and they are the parents of two grown daughters, Suzanne and Valerie.
"These prayers were offered three centuries ago by devout Christians in Europe. Their voices cross barriers of time, language and culture, expressing thanks for God's caring protection, sincere confession of sin, longing for God's merciful forgiveness, and gratefulness for God's grace, which crowns the daily sunrise.
The prayers express a desire for lives of obedience, hearts full of peace, and congregations of love and harmony. They truly are 'rich in spirit' and give comfort to 'devout Christian hearts...in every season and in every need.' I commend them for regular use, in personal, family, and congregational worship."
-John E. Sharp, Director, Historical Committee of the Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana
"A lasting tribute to Anabaptism as a whole, making Die ernsthafte Christenpflicht available to English readers." -Amos B. Hoover, Muddy Creek Farm Library, Denver, Pennsylvania
"A remarkable Anabaptist book, with prayers of surprising warmth and purpose. Suitable for public use as well as in intimate groups. Deserves wide distribution." -Beulah Stauffer Hostetler, Author of American Mennonites and Protestant Movements, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
"Classics of second-generation Anabaptism, roots that give assurance and peace. Sin, death, and the devil are very real; so is the grace of God. The central themes of spiritual life are represented her, For devotional as well as public use. A significant new resource." -C.J. Dyck, Author of Spiritual Life in Anabaptism, Elkhart, Indiana