Amana Church Society

A Pietistic sect in Iowa, called also “The Community of True Inspiration,” it includes about 730 members in seven congregations. The Amana Society arose in 1714 when a company of German Pietists was awakened by the message of Johann Rock and Ludwig Grüber, who claimed that the days of true and direct inspiration from God had not ended. After Rock's death in 1749 the movement waned until 1817, when three new “instruments of true inspiration,” Michael Krausert, Christian Metz, and Barbara Heinemann, led in a renewal of the fellowship. To escape government persecution, over 800 migrated from Germany in 1842 and settled in a village called Ebenezer near Buffalo, New York.

In 1855 the society moved to Iowa, where Amana and six other small communities were established and incorporated in 1859 under the Amana name. These constituted for a time an outstanding experiment in communal living. Their worship was simple, consisting of hymns, testimonies, prayers, reading of Scripture (or the writings of the “Inspired”), and occasional exhortations by the elders. In 1932 the society was reorganized-many of the communistic practices were abandoned-and reconstituted as a corporation for profit. Today members might be called cooperative rather than communistic. They are stockholders in a multimillion dollar corporation, conducting fifty different businesses. Though still a dominant influence, the church is now separated from the business affairs of the community. Many of the society's traditional rules, such as those regarding pacifism and worldly amusements, have been surrendered.