The Fine Arts: Mennonite Architecture and Music
Mennonite church architecture was quite modest. A precedent existed for this tradition. In the Reformation era when Anabaptists were forbidden from constructing churches, many met in homes. East European and Russian Mennonites who settled in nineteenth century Kansas brought with them a severely plain rectangular European meetinghouse design. The transition in Mennonite church architecture was due to modernization. Mennonites traditionally avoided altars since they presumably violated the "universal priesthood of all believers" concept. The church music of Mennonites illustrates the confrontation between the principle of nonconformity and the process of Americanization. Congregational singing was a regular part of Anabaptist-Mennonite worship from the beginning. Although Mennonite architecture was modest by 1939 American standards and church music still revealed traces of an Anabaptist tradition, Kansas congregations in the twentieth century gradually took on a number of American characteristics. The development of American Mennonite church architecture and music from 1874 to 1939 was a gradual process.