Who Are the Mennonites?

img

Mennonites are Christians

  • We believe in the lordship and saving grace of Jesus Christ.
  • We yearn to grow more like Christ.
  • We believe in the triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Mennonites are Anabaptists

  • We are neither Catholic nor Protestant, but we share ties to those streams of Christianity. We cooperate as a sign of our unity in Christ and in ways that extend the reign of God’s Kingdom on earth.
  • We are known as “Anabaptists” (not anti-Baptist) – meaning “rebaptizers.” The Anabaptist movement began in the 16th Century in Europe.

Why?

In Europe during the 16th century, our faith ancestors broke away from the state religion’s practice of baptizing infants. As they looked to the scriptures for guidance, they believed that only adults could make a decision to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized voluntarily.

So they “rebaptized” as adults those whom the Church had already baptized as  infants. It was considered a heresy to do so, and many were persecuted and even killed for their actions and beliefs.

Another way

Rather than baptize our infants, many families participate in a service of dedication of their children to God. The parents ask their congregation to help them train their child in the way of Jesus Christ. Our hope is that our children will choose to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized, but we leave that decision to them as they mature into adulthood.

Mennonites are named after Menno Simons

  • While we called ourselves “Anabaptists” in the 1500s, others nicknamed us the “Mennonites” after one of our early leaders, Menno Simons, a Catholic priest who aligned himself with the Anabaptists in 1536. The nickname stuck. And after 500 years, we’re still known as the Mennonites.
  • There are books devoted to Menno Simons and his contributions to our faith, as well as many writings by him. In every publication written by Menno Simons, he included a verse from First Corinthians 3:11:

“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

To Menno Simons, this verse summed up the whole Anabaptist movement: There is no source or authority for the Christian Church other than Jesus Christ.

  • The centrality of Jesus Christ and our formation as followers of Christ remains the number one priority of Mennonite Church USA today.

(Click here to see a list of other Mennonite Church USA denominational priorities.)

Mennonites are not a closed group

Mennonites value the sense of family and community that comes with:

We are not a closed group. You are welcome to join us as together we follow Jesus and pursue Christ’s purpose in the world. Our vision is one of healing and hope:

  • God calls us
  • to be followers of Jesus Christ

and,

  • by the power of the Holy Spirit,
  • to grow as communities of grace, joy and peace,

so that

  • God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world.

Mennonites are not Amish

We find that many people asking about Mennonites are actually thinking of the Amish or “Old Order Mennonites.” Mennonites and Amish come from the same Anabaptist tradition begun in the 16th century, but there are differences in how we live out our Christian values. The distinctiveness of the Amish is in their separation from the society around them. They generally shun modern technology, keep out of political and secular involvements and dress plainly.

(If you still want to know more about Mennonites, a 15-minute version on DVD, titled “Who are the Mennonites?” is available as well as a “Who are the Mennonites?” brochure.

To see and learn more about Mennonites, check out these resources curated by the Mennonite Church USA Archives:

What do Mennonites Believe?