The Communitarian Vision


The Eighth International Communal Studies Conference

International Communal Studies Association

The Amana Colonies, Iowa, USA

June 28 - 30, 2004
Pre-conference tour June 26-27, 2004

Our Eighth Conference will be held at the historic Amana Colonies in Iowa, the heartland of the United States. We will help Amana celebrate the sesquicentennial of the colonies' settlement in their current location in 1854. The theme of our conference is "The Communitarian Vision" The Amana Colonies emerged from Pietism, a Christian reform movement that sought to inject passion into what its adherents regarded as the cold and lifeless official churches of parts of Europe. One group of Pietists further espoused "inspirationism," the claim that certain living individuals could receive direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit. In 1714 a group of these believers formed the Community of True Inspiration in Germany under the leadership of Eberhard Gruber and Johann Rock, the latter a "Werkzeug," or inspired prophet. More than a century later a new Werkzeug, Christian Metz, arose among the inspirationists. Their faith had never been popular with the public authorities, and, to escape more conflict at a particularly difficult time, Metz led the group to America. They settled near Buffalo, New York, in 1843 an 1844 in a communal settlement they called "Ebenezer." New problems soon arose at Ebenezer, however, and in 1854 the group purchased a large tract of land in Iowa, where seven communal villages were soon established. Agriculture and industries were built up, forming the base for an extended period of communal prosperity. Today the best-known of the Amana industries is its large factory that manufactures refrigerators, air conditioners, microwave ovens, and other appliances. Social and economic problems led to the end of the fully communal economy at Amana in 1932. Much of the Amana tradition continues, however. The distinctive church still functions. The Amana Society continues to own a large tract of farmland and several businesses. A million visitors a year now enjoy the community's traditions, architecture, and friendly people. Our conference will take place over three days in the heart of the Amana Colonies. A two-day tour of historic and contemporary communal sites will be held just before the opening of the conference. Information about conference and tour registration will be published in the ICSA Bulletin and posted on the ICSA and conference websites (, and Local arrangements will be handled by Lanny Haldy and staff members and volunteers with the Amana Heritage Society, who may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..