In previous blogs I have given some background to the division. It was another time of more intense persecution, with the Bernese government confiscating property and exiling Anabaptists. Some would stubbornly return. It was also a time of evangelization. There were new converts to Anabaptism, such as Jacob Ammann's family and my ancestor Isaac Kaufmann's family. Many of these new converts were found in the Bernese Oberland, near Thun, whereas the oldtimers were here in the Emmental, around Langnau. Perhaps part of the new popularity of Anabaptism was from the Pietist movement that emphasized a personal piety and not just going to church for the sake of going to church.
Apparently Hans Reist, an elder among the oldtime Anabaptists, at some point appoints Jacob Ammann an elder. Eventually Ammann moves to what is today France, in Alsace, a German-speaking region, to the town of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines in French, Markirch in German. He manages to successfully sell his property in Switzerland, no small undertaking since the government assumes that all Anabaptist property belongs to it, and buy a farm in Markirch.
He also believes it is not enough to simply excommunicate sinners, so that they cannot take communion but otherwise are not treated differently. They must be shunned, one should not eat ordinary meals with them either. This is the defining issue of the Amish-Mennonite division, the one that endures.
Ammann also had a specific case in mind, where a known liar was not excommunicated. He thought this proved his case that discipline was not taken seriously.
As Ammann travelled in Switzerland, apparently on a commission from the Alsace Anabaptists, to see where the Swiss Anabaptists stood on these issues, he thought he was finding some sympathy for his concerns. For example Peter Gyger and Niklaus Moser, the owner of Fridersmatt, seemed to agree with him.
I am not sure how many attended but I think it was a crowd. These large Swiss farmhouses would have room for a large group particularly in the barn area . Reist and his closest leaders did not attend. They sent word that they were too busy with farming and so could not make it.