Daring! 500 Years Anabaptist Movement 1525 –2025

A glance behind and ahead

“Daring! The Anabaptist Movement, 1525-2025” reminds us of the Reformation movement in which many Christians as mature adults, consistently and with one mind, wanted to lead a life aligned with biblical standards and values. Their ideals were freedom of faith and nonviolence. They dared much and, for that, suffered persecution, forced migrations and discrimination. “Daring!” calls us to consider, following the Anabaptist lodestar, what being Christian means in the 21st Century.

2025 reminds those congregations and churches that stem from the Anabaptist movement of the sixteenth century—or those others that profess a common bond—about the first Anabaptist baptism upon confession of faith that took place at the end of January 1525 in Zurich. Within the common name, “Anabaptist,” was hidden in the 16th Century a great diversity. Alongside the Wittenberg and Swiss Reformation, the Anabaptists constituted the third Reformation stream. Various groups such as the Mennonites, the Hutterites, the Swiss Brethren, the Melchiorites—and many other separate, mostly smaller groups—belonged to the Anabaptist movement.

Der Täufer Dirk Willems rettet seinen Verfolger.
The Anabaptist Dirk Willems saves his pursuer. Image by Jan Luyken (1685). Source: Wikimedia Commons
Täuferdisputation in Zürich im Jahr 1525
Anabaptist disputation in Zurich in 1525. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Anabaptists lived, among other places, in the Netherlands and in Northwest Germany, in the Confederation (Switzerland), but also in the Palatinate, Bavaria, Hesse, Thüringen, Württemberg, as well as in Austria and Moravia. Also, Baptists and Quakers, who emerged in connection with the English Reformation at the beginning of the 17th Century, are ranked within the wide spectrum of Anabaptist churches. A colorful and compelling culture of remembrance traces its origins back to this diversity.

The Anabaptist Movement of 500 years is a history of highs and lows, of emergence, decline and renewal, of debates, discussions and controversies, of courageous faith and feeble faith. This diversity grants the courage to reflect upon one’s own faith, bringing it into ecumenical discussion self-confidently and with dialogical skill, and having the curiosity to learn to know the faith of others.

“Daring!” therefore focuses not only upon the past, but also asks about the meaning of the Anabaptist traditions for today and tomorrow.

“Daring! The Anabaptist Movement, 1525-2025” invites us on a five-year common path, to reflect on history, memory, tradition and heritage, in order to shape the today and tomorrow, and to establish ecumenical impulses. Annual brochures will be produced, intended to stimulate reflection within discussion groups, koinonia groups, congregations, ecumenical groups and educational institutions, concerning the theme-year at hand. Exhibits, materials for schools and educational institutions, along with conferences, will illustrate and bring depth to the wrestling with the past 500-year trail of Anabaptist history.

The theme-years will come to life through the involvement of churches, congregations, conferences, initiatives, study groups and educational establishments. The goal is, via the Internet, to report contemporary activities, resulting in a worldwide interconnectedness.

The annual themes:

2020: daring! living responsibly
Baptism – Voluntariness – Religious Freedom

2021: daring! living together
Equality – Responsibility – Autonomy

2022: daring! living consistently
Orientation on Jesus – Nonconformity – Confession of Faith – Martyrdom

2023: daring! living non-violently
Church of Peace – Resistance – Reconciliation

2024: daring! living in hope
The Kingdom of God – Utopia – Renewal

2025: daring! Bible. life.
held – unfolded – shaped

In the year 2025 commemorative events will take place, coordinated and sponsored by various institutions and networks of the Anabaptist churches, such as the Mennonite World Conference and the Baptist World Alliance.

Coordinating office

The office coordinating all activities concerning the annual themes is the society, “500 Jahre Täuferbewegung 2025,” located in Frankfurt, Germany.

Verein „500 Jahre Täuferbewegung 2025 e.V.“

PD Dr. Astrid von Schlachta (Chairperson)

Dr. Andreas Liese (Vice-Chairperson)

Urs Bruhn (Treasurer)

Bernd Densky (Executive Director)