The Confessionalist Strategy of Flemish Leaders
The congregation of Flemish Mennonites was by far the largest and most historically significant in Hamburg and Altona. At the same time that the Dompelaars were losing members, the Flemish were building a strong set of institutions and growing in size. Background about Dutch Mennonite history is necessary to understand the development of Mennonite confessionalism in Hamburg and Altona. Like other mainstream Protestant and Catholic confessional documents, seventeenth-century Dutch Mennonite confessions of faith were frequently the collective statements resulting from negotiations between groups of religious leaders. Although it joined the Zonist Society relatively late, the congregation in Hamburg and Altona was one of the key centres of Mennonite confessionalist activity into the early nineteenth century. While the development of an interregional Mennonite confessional community was a part of a major trend in the history of early modern European Christianity, it was not a trend reflected with equal strength in all quarters of the northern European Anabaptist tradition.