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Religious structure of the court

The anabaptists perceived their brotherly courts in a biblical spirit, following the example of the early Christians, where they all had everything in common, one heart and one soul. (cf. Acts 2: 44; 4, 32). The multistage hierarchical organization of the anabaptists is found in the Schleitheim confession of 1527. In 1540, Peter Riedemann defined the duties and status of the servants in the confession of the Rechenschaft. Within the service and at the same time the highest-ranking reports were called apostles or messengers (Sendboten). They were followed by bishops, stewards (Vorsteher). They were helped in proclaiming, teaching and preaching the servants of the Word. Material needs and matters were dealt with by emergency helpers (Diener der Notdurft). All these servants had elders at their disposal, consisting of mature and community-respected men.

After 1622, almost every year in Sobotište new elections of servants were held, which they chose from among the proven men. First of all, for a test that lasted a year or two, and only then, if he proved himself in service, was he chosen to be a servant of the Word by putting the hands of the elders. Together, all the courts formed one village (Gemeinde), which was administered by the bishop (Vorsteher). Like other ministers, the bishop was appointed for life. Should any of them misrepresent their mission, he was deposed. The bishop was the supreme judge, steward, leader and supervisor of all the anabaptists. He communicated with the other courts in writing, through ambassadors or directly at joint meetings.

At the forefront of each court was an elected clergyman known as the minister of the Word (Diener am Wort, Diener im Wort or Diener des Wortes) or the minister of the Gospel (Diener des Evangelions). Each of these servants was trained in some craft, which they performed even after appointment as a servant. The servant of the Word was assisted by the emergency helpers with whom they coordinated the economic affairs of the court. The mission of the emergency servants corresponded to the deacons in the early Christian communities.

The basis of the anbaptist belief is the baptism of adults who have voluntarily decided to accept it. Baptism was not perceived as a sacrament; rather it was a symbol that expressed the attitude of a disciple, a follower of Christ. The fraternal community and the anabaptists principles applied in everyday life were a natural continuation of baptism. The Lord’s Supper was the culmination of this attitude of life. The most severe punishment was exclusion from the church, the community. The aim was to bring the wrongdoers to regret. The Liturgy of the anabaptists consisted of singing, reading the Scripture and preaching. By the recatholization of the anabaptists, this whole structure disappeared.