Mennonite
Overview
The Mennonites are a group of Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 Anabaptist
Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

 denominations named after the Frisian
Frisians
The Frisians are a Germanic ethnic group native to the coastal parts of the Netherlands and Germany. They are concentrated in the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen and, in Germany, East Frisia and North Frisia, that was a part of Denmark until 1864. They inhabit an area known as Frisia...

 Menno Simons
Menno Simons
Menno Simons was an Anabaptist religious leader from the Friesland region of the Low Countries. Simons was a contemporary of the Protestant Reformers and his followers became known as Mennonites...

 (1496–1561), who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders. The teachings of the Mennonites were founded on their belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ
Ministry of Jesus
In the Christian gospels, the Ministry of Jesus begins with his Baptism in the countryside of Judea, near the River Jordan and ends in Jerusalem, following the Last Supper with his disciples. The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus was "about 30 years of age" at the start of his ministry...

, which they held to with great conviction despite persecution by the various Roman Catholic and Protestant states.
Encyclopedia
The Mennonites are a group of Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 Anabaptist
Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

 denominations named after the Frisian
Frisians
The Frisians are a Germanic ethnic group native to the coastal parts of the Netherlands and Germany. They are concentrated in the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen and, in Germany, East Frisia and North Frisia, that was a part of Denmark until 1864. They inhabit an area known as Frisia...

 Menno Simons
Menno Simons
Menno Simons was an Anabaptist religious leader from the Friesland region of the Low Countries. Simons was a contemporary of the Protestant Reformers and his followers became known as Mennonites...

 (1496–1561), who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders. The teachings of the Mennonites were founded on their belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ
Ministry of Jesus
In the Christian gospels, the Ministry of Jesus begins with his Baptism in the countryside of Judea, near the River Jordan and ends in Jerusalem, following the Last Supper with his disciples. The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus was "about 30 years of age" at the start of his ministry...

, which they held to with great conviction despite persecution by the various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. Rather than fight, the majority survived by fleeing to neighboring states where ruling families were tolerant of their radical belief in adult baptism. Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the historic peace churches
Peace churches
Peace churches are Christian churches, groups or communities advocating Christian pacifism. The term historic peace churches refers specifically only to three church groups among pacifist churches: Church of the Brethren, Mennonites including the Amish, and Religious Society of Friends and has...

 because of their commitment to nonviolence
Nonviolence
Nonviolence has two meanings. It can refer, first, to a general philosophy of abstention from violence because of moral or religious principle It can refer to the behaviour of people using nonviolent action Nonviolence has two (closely related) meanings. (1) It can refer, first, to a general...

.

There are about 1.5 million Mennonites worldwide as of 2006. Mennonite congregations worldwide embody the full scope of Mennonite practice from "plain people
Plain people
Plain people are Christian groups characterized by separation from the world and simple living, including plain dress. These group include Amish; Old Order, Conservative and Old Colony Mennonites; Old German Baptist Brethren; the Hutterites; and Old Order River Brethren; and at one time Quakers,...

" to those who are indistinguishable in dress and appearance from the general population. The largest populations of Mennonites are in Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, but Mennonites can also be found in tight-knit communities in at least 51 countries on six continents or scattered amongst the populace of those countries. There are also significant numbers of Mennonites scattered throughout China. There are German Mennonite colonies in Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

, Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

, who are to a large extent descendants of Mennonites living in eastern Europe, and there remains a small congregation in the Netherlands
Mennonite Church in the Netherlands
The Mennonite Church in the Netherlands, or Algemene Doopsgezinde Sociëteit, is a body of Mennonite Christians in the Netherlands.The Mennonites are named for Menno Simons , a Dutch Roman Catholic priest from the Province of Friesland who converted to Anabaptism around 1536...

 where Menno was born.

The Mennonite Disaster Service, based in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, provides both immediate and long-term responses to hurricanes, flood
Flood
A flood is an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges land. The EU Floods directive defines a flood as a temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water...

s, and other disasters. The Mennonite Central Committee
Mennonite Central Committee
The Mennonite Central Committee is a relief, service, and peace agency representing 15 Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Amish bodies in North America. The U.S. headquarters are in Akron, Pennsylvania, the Canadian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.-History:...

 provides disaster relief around the world alongside their long-term international development programs. Other programs offer a variety of relief efforts and services throughout the world.

Since the latter part of the 20th century, some Mennonite groups have also become more actively involved with peace
Peace
Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the...

 and social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

 issues, helping to found Christian Peacemaker Teams
Christian Peacemaker Teams
Christian Peacemaker Teams is an international organization set up to support teams of peace workers in conflict areas around the world. These teams believe that they can lower the levels of violence through nonviolent direct action, human rights documentation, and nonviolence training. CPT sums...

 and Mennonite Conciliation Service.

Radical Reformation

The early history of the Mennonites starts with the Anabaptist
Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

s in the German and Dutch-speaking parts of central Europe. The German term is "Täufer" or "Wiedertäufer" (that is, Again-Baptists, or Anabaptists via the Greek ana [="again."]). These forerunners of modern Mennonites were part of the broad reaction against the practices and theology of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 known as the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

. Its most distinguishing feature is the rejection of infant baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

, an act that had both religious and political meaning since almost every infant born in western Europe was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. Other significant theological views of the Mennonites developed in opposition to Roman Catholic views or to the views of other Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 and Huldrych Zwingli
Huldrych Zwingli
Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism...

.

Some of the followers of Zwingli's Reformed church
Reformed churches
The Reformed churches are a group of Protestant denominations characterized by Calvinist doctrines. They are descended from the Swiss Reformation inaugurated by Huldrych Zwingli but developed more coherently by Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger and especially John Calvin...

 felt that requiring church membership beginning at birth was inconsistent with the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 example. They felt that the church should be completely removed from government (the proto-free church
Free church
The term "free church" refers to a Christian denomination that is intrinsically separated from government . A free church does not define government policy, nor have governments define church policy or theology, nor seeks or receives government endorsement or funding for its general mission...

 tradition), and that individuals should join only when willing to publicly acknowledge belief in Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 and the desire to live in accordance with his teachings. At a small meeting in Zurich on January 21, 1525, Conrad Grebel
Conrad Grebel
Conrad Grebel , son of a prominent Swiss merchant and councilman, was a co-founder of the Swiss Brethren movement and is often called the "Father of Anabaptists".-Early life:...

, Felix Manz
Felix Manz
Felix Manz was a co-founder of the original Swiss Brethren Anabaptist congregation in Zürich, Switzerland, and the first martyr of the Radical Reformation.-Birth and life:...

, and George Blaurock
George Blaurock
Jörg vom Haus Jacob , commonly known as George Blaurock , with Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz, was co-founder of the Swiss Brethren in Zürich, and thereby one of the founders of Anabaptism.George Blaurock was born in 1491 in Bonaduz in the Grisons, Switzerland...

, along with twelve others, baptized each other. This meeting marks the beginning of the Anabaptist movement. In the spirit of the times, many groups followed, preaching any number of ideas about hierarchy, the state, eschatology
Eschatology
Eschatology is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come...

, and sexual license, running from utter abandon to extreme chastity
Chastity
Chastity refers to the sexual behavior of a man or woman acceptable to the moral standards and guidelines of a culture, civilization, or religion....

. These movements are together referred to as the Radical Reformation
Radical Reformation
The Radical Reformation was a 16th century response to what was believed to be both the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church and the expanding Magisterial Protestant movement led by Martin Luther and many others. Beginning in Germany and Switzerland, the Radical Reformation birthed many radical...

.

Many government and religious leaders, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, considered voluntary church membership to be dangerous — the concern of some deepened by reports of the Münster Rebellion
Münster Rebellion
The Münster Rebellion was an attempt by radical Anabaptists to establish a communal sectarian government in the German city of Münster. The city became an Anabaptist center from 1534 to 1535, and fell under Anabaptist rule for 18 months — from February 1534, when the city hall was seized and...

, led by a violent sect of Anabaptists. They joined forces to fight the movement, using methods such as banishment, torture, burning, drowning or beheading.

Despite strong repressive efforts of the state churches, the movement spread slowly around western Europe, primarily along the Rhine. Many of the earliest Anabaptist leaders were killed in an attempt to purge Europe of the new sect. By 1530, most of the founding leaders had been killed for refusing to renounce their beliefs. Many believed that God did not condone killing or the use of force for any reason and were therefore unwilling to fight for their lives. The pacifist branches often survived by seeking refuge in neutral cities or nations, such as Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

. Their safety, however, was often tenuous, as a shift in alliances or an invasion could mean resumed persecution. Other groups of Anabaptists, such as the Batenburgers
Batenburgers
The Batenburgers were members of a radical Anabaptist sect led by Jan van Batenburg, that flourished briefly in the 1530s in the aftermath of the Münster Rebellion.-Jan van Batenburg:...

, were eventually destroyed by their willingness to fight. This played a large part in the evolution of Anabaptist theology.

In the early days of the Anabaptist movement, Menno Simons
Menno Simons
Menno Simons was an Anabaptist religious leader from the Friesland region of the Low Countries. Simons was a contemporary of the Protestant Reformers and his followers became known as Mennonites...

, a Catholic priest in the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, heard of the movement and started to rethink his Catholic faith. He questioned the doctrine of transubstantiation
Transubstantiation
In Roman Catholic theology, transubstantiation means the change, in the Eucharist, of the substance of wheat bread and grape wine into the substance of the Body and Blood, respectively, of Jesus, while all that is accessible to the senses remains as before.The Eastern Orthodox...

, but was reluctant to leave the Roman Catholic Church. His thinking was influenced by the death of his brother, who, as a member of an Anabaptist group, was killed when he and his companions were attacked and refused to defend themselves. In 1536, at the age of 40, Simons left the Roman Catholic Church. Soon thereafter he became a leader within the Anabaptist movement. He would become a hunted man with a price on his head for the rest of his life. His name became associated with scattered groups of nonviolent Anabaptists whom he helped to organize and consolidate.

Fragmentation and variation

During the 16th century, the Mennonites and other Anabaptists were relentlessly persecuted
Persecution of Christians
Persecution of Christians as a consequence of professing their faith can be traced both historically and in the current era. Early Christians were persecuted for their faith, at the hands of both Jews from whose religion Christianity arose, and the Roman Empire which controlled much of the land...

. This period of persecution has had a significant impact on Mennonite identity. Martyrs Mirror
Martyrs Mirror
The Martyrs Mirror or The Bloody Theater, first published in 1660 in Dutch by Thieleman J. van Braght, documents the stories and testimonies of Christian martyrs, especially Anabaptists...

, published in 1660, documents much of the persecution of Anabaptists and their predecessors. Today, the book is still the most important book besides the Bible for many Mennonites and Amish, in particular for the Swiss-South German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 branch of the Mennonites. Persecution was still going on until 1710 in various parts of Switzerland.

Disagreements within the church over the years led to other splits; sometimes the reasons were theological, sometimes practical, sometimes geographical. For instance, near the beginning of the 20th century, some members in the Amish church wanted to begin having Sunday School
Sunday school
Sunday school is the generic name for many different types of religious education pursued on Sundays by various denominations.-England:The first Sunday school may have been opened in 1751 in St. Mary's Church, Nottingham. Another early start was made by Hannah Ball, a native of High Wycombe in...

s and participate in progressive Protestant-style para-church evangelism. Unable to persuade the rest of the Amish, they separated and formed a number of separate groups including the Conservative Mennonite Conference
Conservative Mennonite Conference
The Conservative Mennonite Conference is a Christian body of conservative evangelical Mennonite churches.-Background:The first American settlement of the Amish Mennonites — who separated from the main body of Swiss Brethren and followed Jacob Amman — was in Berks County, Pennsylvania, around...

. Mennonites in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and other countries typically have independent denominations because of the practical considerations of distance and, in some cases, language. Many times these divisions took place along family lines, with each extended family supporting their own branch.

The first recorded account of this group is in a written order by Countess Anne, who ruled a small province in central Europe. The presence of some small groups of violent Anabaptists was causing political and religious turmoil in her state, so she decreed that all Anabaptists were to be driven out. The order made an exception for the non-violent branch known at that time as the Menists.

Political rulers often admitted the Menists or Mennonites into his/her state because they were honest, hardworking and peaceful. When their practices upset the powerful state churches, princes would renege on exemptions for military service, or a new monarch would take power, and the Mennonites would be forced to flee for their lives again, usually leaving everything but their families behind. Often, another monarch in another state would grant them welcome, at least for a while.

While Mennonites in Colonial America
Colonial America
The colonial history of the United States covers the history from the start of European settlement and especially the history of the thirteen colonies of Britain until they declared independence in 1776. In the late 16th century, England, France, Spain and the Netherlands launched major...

 were enjoying considerable religious freedom, their counterparts in Europe were in the same situation they always had been. Their well-being was dependent on the will of the ruling monarch, who would often extend an invitation only when there was poor soil that no one else could farm. By contrast, in The Netherlands the Mennonites (nl
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

: Doopsgezinden) enjoyed a relatively high degree of tolerance. The Mennonites often farmed and reclaimed land in exchange for exemption from mandatory military service. However, once the land was arable again, this arrangement would often change, and the persecution would begin again. Because the land still needed to be tended, the ruler would not drive out the Mennonites but would pass laws to force them to stay, while at the same time severely limiting their freedom. Mennonites had to build their churches facing onto back streets or alleys, and they were forbidden from announcing the beginning of services with the sound of a bell.

In addition, high taxes were enacted in exchange for both continuing the military service exemption, and to keep the states' best farmers from leaving. In some cases, the entire congregation would give up their belongings to pay the tax to be allowed to leave. If a member or family could not afford the tax, it was often paid by others in the group.

A strong emphasis on "community" was developed under these circumstances. It continues to be typical of Mennonite churches. As a result of frequently being required to give up possessions in order to retain individual freedoms, Mennonites learned to live very simply. This was reflected both in the home and at church, where their dress and their buildings were plain. The music at church, usually simple German chorales, was performed a cappella
A cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

. This style of music serves as a reminder to many Mennonites of their simple lives, as well as their history as a persecuted people. Some branches of Mennonites have retained this "plain" lifestyle into modern times.

Jacob Amman and the Amish schisms

In 1693 Jacob Amman
Jacob Amman
Jakob Ammann , was an Anabaptist leader and namesake of the Amish religious movement.-Birth and death:...

 led an effort to reform the Mennonite church in Switzerland and South Germany to include shunning
Shunning
Shunning can be the act of social rejection, or mental rejection. Social rejection is when a person or group deliberately avoids association with, and habitually keeps away from an individual or group. This can be a formal decision by a group, or a less formal group action which will spread to all...

, to hold communion more often, and other differences. When the discussions fell through, Jacob and his followers split from the other Mennonite congregations. Amman's followers became known as the Amish
Amish
The Amish , sometimes referred to as Amish Mennonites, are a group of Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches...

 Mennonites. In later years, other schisms among Amish Mennonites resulted in such groups as the Old Order Amish, New Order Amish, Kaufman Amish Mennonites, Amish Mennonites, Conservative Mennonite Conference, and Biblical Mennonite Alliance.

Russian Mennonites

In 1768 Catherine the Great of Russia acquired a great deal of land north of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 (in the present-day Ukraine) following a war with the Turks
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. Russian government officials invited those Mennonites living in Prussia to come farm the Russian steppes in exchange for religious freedom and military exemption. Over the years the Mennonite farmers were very successful. By the beginning of the 20th century they owned large agricultural estates and were even successful as industrial entrepreneurs in the cities. After the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

 and the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 (1917–1921) all of these farms (whose owners were called Kulak
Kulak
Kulaks were a category of relatively affluent peasants in the later Russian Empire, Soviet Russia, and early Soviet Union...

s) and enterprises were expropriated. Beyond expropriation
Confiscation
Confiscation, from the Latin confiscatio 'joining to the fiscus, i.e. transfer to the treasury' is a legal seizure without compensation by a government or other public authority...

, Mennonites suffered severe persecution during the course of the Civil War, at the hands of both the Bolsheviks and, particularly, the anarchists of Nestor Makhno
Nestor Makhno
Nestor Ivanovych Makhno or simply Daddy Makhno was a Ukrainian anarcho-communist guerrilla leader turned army commander who led an independent anarchist army in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War....

 who saw Mennonites as privileged foreigners of the upper class and targeted them. Hundreds of Mennonite men, women and children were murdered in these attacks. After the war people who openly followed religion were in many cases imprisoned. This led to a wave of Russian Mennonite emigration to the Americas (U.S., Canada and Paraguay).

When the German army invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, many in the Mennonite community saw them as liberators from the communist regime under which they had suffered. When the tide of war turned, many of the Mennonites fled with the German army back to Germany where they were accepted as "Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche - "German in terms of people/folk" -, defined ethnically, is a historical term from the 20th century. The words volk and volkische conveyed in Nazi thinking the meanings of "folk" and "race" while adding the sense of superior civilization and blood...

". After the war the remainder of the Mennonite community emigrated or, (because, as the Soviets saw it, they had "collectively collaborated" with the Germans) was forcefully relocated to Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 and Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, and many were sent to Gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

s. Many German-Russian Mennonites who lived farther to the east (not western Russia) were deported to Siberia before the German army's invasion, and were also often placed in labor camps. In the 1990s the Russian government gave these people the opportunity to emigrate. The Russian Mennonite immigrants in Germany outnumber the pre-1989 community of Mennonites in Germany by 3 to 1.

The world's most conservative Mennonites (on technology) are the Russian Mennonites of the colonies affiliated with the Lower Barton Creek Colony in Belize. These Mennonites do not use motors, paint, or compressed air.

North America

Persecution and the search for employment forced Mennonites out of the Netherlands eastward to Germany in the 17th century. As Quaker evangelists moved into Germany they received a sympathetic audience among the larger of these Dutch-Mennonite congregations around Krefeld, Altona-Hamburg, Gronau and Emden. It was among this group of Quakers and Mennonites, living under ongoing discrimination, that William Penn
William Penn
William Penn was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early champion of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful...

 solicited settlers for his new colony. The first permanent settlement of Mennonites in the American Colonies consisted of one Mennonite family and twelve Mennonite-Quaker families of Dutch extraction who arrived from Krefeld
Krefeld
Krefeld , also known as Crefeld until 1929, is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located northwest of Düsseldorf, its centre lying just a few kilometres to the west of the River Rhine; the borough of Uerdingen is situated directly on the Rhine...

, Germany, in 1683 and settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania
Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Germantown is a neighborhood in the northwest section of the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, about 7–8 miles northwest from the center of the city...

. Among these early settlers was William Rittenhouse
William Rittenhouse
-Life:William Rittenhouse was born in Germany with the name Wilhelm Rittenhausen. His name as "Willm Rittenhuysen" was on a petition for naturalization of residents of German Town, Pennsylvania dated 7th May 1691....

, a lay minister and owner of the first American paper mill
Paper mill
A paper mill is a factory devoted to making paper from vegetable fibres such as wood pulp, old rags and other ingredients using a Fourdrinier machine or other type of paper machine.- History :...

. Jacob Gottschalk was the first bishop of this Germantown congregation. This early group of Mennonites and Mennonite-Quakers wrote the first formal protest against slavery in the United States. The treatise was addressed to slave-holding Quakers in an effort to persuade them to change their ways.

In the 18th century, 100,000 Germans from the Palatinate, collectively known as the Pennsylvania Dutch
Pennsylvania Dutch
Pennsylvania Dutch refers to immigrants and their descendants from southwestern Germany and Switzerland who settled in Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries...

, emigrated to Pennsylvania. Of these, around 2,500 were Mennonites and 500 Amish. This group settled farther west than the first group, choosing less expensive land in the Lancaster
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lancaster is a city in the south-central part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is the county seat of Lancaster County and one of the older inland cities in the United States, . With a population of 59,322, it ranks eighth in population among Pennsylvania's cities...

, Pennsylvania, area. A member of this second group, Christopher Dock
Christopher Dock
Christopher Dock was a Mennonite educator.-Biography:He immigrated to the United States by 1714, becoming a teacher at Skippack in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania by 1718. After teaching for ten years, he turned primarily to farming, and bought in Salford Township in 1735...

, authored Pedagogy, the first American monograph on education. Today, Mennonites also reside in Kishacoquillas Valley
Kishacoquillas Valley
The Kishacoquillas Valley, known locally as both Kish Valley and Big Valley, is an enclosed anticlinal valley in the Ridge-and-valley Appalachians of Central Pennsylvania, lying between Stone Mountain ridge to the north and Jacks Mountain ridge to the south. The valley is located in Mifflin County...

 (also known as Big Valley), a valley in Huntingdon
Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania
Huntingdon County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. In 2010, its population was 45,913.Huntingdon County was created on September 20, 1787, from part of Bedford County. Its county seat is Huntingdon.-Geography:According to the U.S...

 and Mifflin counties, also in Pennsylvania.

During the Colonial period, Mennonites were distinguished from other Pennsylvania Germans in three ways: their opposition to the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, resistance to public education, and disapproval of religious revivalism. Contributions of Mennonites during this period include the idea of separation of church and state and opposition to slavery.

From 1812 to 1860, another wave of immigrants settled farther west in Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 and Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

. These Swiss-German speaking Mennonites, along with Amish, came from Switzerland and the Alsace-Lorraine
Alsace-Lorraine
The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle region of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east...

 area. These immigrants, along with the Amish of northern New York state, formed the nucleus of the Apostolic Christian Church
Apostolic Christian Church
The Apostolic Christian Church is a religious body in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Paraguay, and Japan that originates from the Anabaptist movement....

 in the United States.

The Swiss-German Mennonites that emigrated to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries settled first in Pennsylvania, then across the midwestern states
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

 (initially Ohio, Indiana, and Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

) are the root to the former Mennonite Church denomination (MC), colloquially called the "Old Mennonite Church". This denomination had offices in Elkhart
Elkhart, Indiana
Elkhart is a city in Elkhart County, Indiana, United States. The city is located east of South Bend, northwest of Fort Wayne, east of Chicago, and north of Indianapolis...

, Indiana, and was the most populous progressive Mennonite denomination before merging with the General Conference Mennonite Church (GCMC) in 2002.

The General Conference Mennonite Church
General Conference Mennonite Church
The General Conference Mennonite Church was an association of Mennonite congregations based in North America from 1860 to 2002. The conference was formed in 1860 when congregations in Iowa invited North American Mennonites to join together in order to pursue common goals such as higher education...

 was an association of Mennonite congregations based in North America beginning in 1860. The conference was formed in 1860 when congregations in Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

 invited North American Mennonites to join together in order to pursue common goals such as education and mission work. The conference was especially attractive to recent Mennonite and Amish immigrants to North America and expanded considerably when thousands of Russian Mennonites arrived in North America starting in the 1870s. Conference offices were located in Winnipeg
Winnipeg
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada, and is the primary municipality of the Winnipeg Capital Region, with more than half of Manitoba's population. It is located near the longitudinal centre of North America, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers .The name...

, Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

, and North Newton
North Newton, Kansas
North Newton is a city in Harvey County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 1,759. The city of Newton is located next to the city, but it not part of North Newton. North Newton is home of Bethel College, which has approximately 500 students.-Geography:North...

, Kansas. The conference supported a seminary and several colleges. It became the second largest Mennonite denomination with 64,431 members in 410 congregations in Canada, the United States and South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 in the 1990s. After decades of increasingly closer cooperation with the Mennonite Church, the two groups voted to merge in 1995 and completed reorganization into Mennonite Church Canada
Mennonite Church Canada
Mennonite Church Canada is the conference of Mennonites in Canada, with head offices in Winnipeg, Manitoba.The first Mennonites in Canada arrived from Pennsylvania in 1786. The majority of the Mennonites that migrated to Canada over the next 150 years came directly from Europe...

 in 2000 and Mennonite Church USA
Mennonite Church USA
The Mennonite Church USA, or MCUSA, is an Anabaptist Christian denomination in the United States. Although the organization is a recent 2002 merger of the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church, the body has roots in the Radical Reformation of the 16th century...

 in 2002.

Mennonites in Canada were automatically exempt from any type of service during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 by provisions of the Order in Council of 1873. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Mennonite conscientious objectors were given the options of noncombatant military service, serving in the medical or dental corps under military control or working in parks and on roads under civilian supervision. Over 95% chose the latter and were placed in Alternative Service camps. Initially the men worked on road building, forestry and firefighting projects. After May 1943, as a labour shortage developed within the nation, men were shifted into agriculture, education and industry. The 10,700 Canadian objectors were mostly Mennonites (63%) and Doukhobor
Doukhobor
The Doukhobors or Dukhobors , earlierDukhobortsy are a group of Russian origin.The Doukhobors were one of the sects - later defined as a religious philosophy, ethnic group, social movement, or simply a "way of life" - known generically as Spiritual Christianity. The origin of the Doukhobors is...

s (20%).

In the United States, Civilian Public Service
Civilian Public Service
The Civilian Public Service provided conscientious objectors in the United States an alternative to military service during World War II...

 (CPS) provided an alternative to military service during World War II. From 1941 to 1947, 4,665 Mennonites, Amish and Brethren in Christ were among nearly 12,000 conscientious objectors who performed work of national importance in 152 CPS camps throughout the United States and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

. The draftees worked in areas such as soil conservation, forestry, fire fighting, agriculture, social services and mental health.

The CPS men served without wages and minimal support from the federal government. The cost of maintaining the CPS camps and providing for the needs of the men was the responsibility of their congregations and families. Mennonite Central Committee coordinated the operation of the Mennonite camps. CPS men served longer than regular draftees, not being released until well past the end of the war. Initially skeptical of the program, government agencies learned to appreciate the men's service and requested more workers from the program. CPS made significant contributions to forest fire prevention, erosion and flood control, medical science and reform of the mental health system.

Schisms

Prior to migration to America, Anabaptists in Europe were divided between those of Dutch and Swiss-German background. However, both Dutch and Swiss groups took their name from Menno Simons who led the Dutch group. A trickle of Dutch Mennonites began the migration to America in 1683, followed by a much larger migration of Swiss-German Mennonites beginning in 1707.

After immigration to America, many of the early Mennonites split from the main body of North American Mennonites and formed their own separate and distinct churches. The first schism in America occurred in 1778 when Bishop Christian Funk's support of the American Revolution led to his excommunication and the formation of a separate Mennonite group known as Funkite
Funkite
Funkites were a group of Mennonite followers that splintered from mainstream Mennonites as the result of a schism caused by Bishop Christian Funk....

s. In 1785 this process continued with the formation of the orthodox Reformed Mennonite Church and continues into the 21st century. Many of these churches were formed as a response to deep disagreements about theology, doctrine, and church discipline as evolution both inside and outside the Mennonite faith occurred. Many of the modern churches descended from those groups that abandoned traditional Mennonite practices.

These historical schisms have had an influence on creating the distinct Mennonite denominations, sometimes using mild or severe shunning
Shunning
Shunning can be the act of social rejection, or mental rejection. Social rejection is when a person or group deliberately avoids association with, and habitually keeps away from an individual or group. This can be a formal decision by a group, or a less formal group action which will spread to all...

 to show its disapproval of other Mennonite groups.

Schools

Several Mennonite groups have their own private or parochial schools. Conservative groups, like the Holdeman, have not only their own schools, but their own curriculum and teaching staff (usually, but not exclusively, young unmarried women). See also :category:Mennonite schools.
Canada
  • Eden High School, St. Catharines, Ontario
  • Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute
    Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute
    The Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute is a private Mennonite Brethren Christian school located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It was founded in 1945...

    , Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Mennonite Collegiate Institute
    Mennonite Collegiate Institute
    Mennonite Collegiate Institute is a private high school located in Gretna, Manitoba. It has approximately 155 students from grade 9 to 12, teaching the curriculum requirements of Manitoba Education within an Christian/Anabaptist setting. Its main purpose is to serve Mennonite students but...

    , Gretna, Manitoba
  • Mennonite Educational Institute
    Mennonite Educational Institute
    Mennonite Educational Institute is an independent school consisting of four day schools — a preschool, elementary, middle, and secondary school — in the city of Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada...

    , Abbotsford, British Columbia
  • Rockway Mennonite Collegiate
    Rockway Mennonite Collegiate
    Rockway Mennonite Collegiate is a private Mennonite high school located in Kitchener, Ontario. It offers academic programs for grade 7–12 students, various cross-cultural exchanges, as well as numerous arts and athletics programs...

    , Kitchener, Ontario
  • Rosthern Junior College
    Rosthern Junior College
    Rosthern Junior College, an independent high school, has been a landmark institution in the town of Rosthern, Saskatchewan, Canada since 1905. Opening in that year as the German-English Academy, it was founded by Mennonite settlers in response to a need for trained teachers to work in the schools...

    , Rosthern, Saskatchewan
  • Westgate Mennonite Collegiate
    Westgate Mennonite Collegiate
    Westgate Mennonite Collegiate is a 7-12 Mennonite private school in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.-Mission Statement:Westgate Mennonite Collegiate is a Christian school grounded in the Anabaptist tradition. It is the mission of the school to provide a well-rounded education that will inspire and...

    , Winnipeg, Manitoba

United States
  • Belleville Mennonite School
    Belleville Mennonite School
    Belleville Mennonite School is located in Belleville, Pennsylvania, USA. It is situated between Stone Mountain and Jack's Mountain. The valley they form is known as Big Valley...

    , Belleville, Pennsylvania
  • Bethany Christian Schools
    Bethany Christian Schools
    Bethany Christian Schools is a private school for grades 4-12. The high school was founded in 1954, and was expanded to include a middle school in 1996. In the fall of 2011, Bethany began a 4th-5th grade combined class. Bethany is owned and operated by the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference...

    , Goshen, Indiana
  • Central Christian School
    Central Christian High School (Kidron, Ohio)
    Central Christian School is a private high school, middle school, and elementary school in Kidron, Ohio. It is a coed school, and they serve 232 students in grades 5 through 12. It is the first Mennonite high school in Ohio...

    , Kidron, Ohio
  • Christopher Dock Mennonite High School
    Christopher Dock Mennonite High School
    ]Christopher Dock Mennonite High School, also known as Christopher Dock High School, is a private high school in Towamencin Township, Pennsylvania that is affiliated with the Franconia Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church USA. The school was named after schoolmaster Christopher Dock of...

    , Lansdale, Pennsylvania
  • Eastern Mennonite High School
    Eastern Mennonite School
    Eastern Mennonite School is a K-12 private school in Harrisonburg, Virginia which is affiliated with the Mennonite Church USA.Eastern Mennonite School began in 1917 as a high school and Bible school, adding college classes as the institution grew...

    , Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Freeman Academy
    Freeman Academy
    Freeman Academy is a private, Christian middle school and high school in Freeman, South Dakota, that serves students in grades 5-12. Founded in 1901, the school is affiliated with Mennonite Church, but welcomes students of all denominations. It serves the greater Freeman community primarily, but...

    , Freeman, South Dakota
  • Immanuel Schools
    Immanuel Schools
    Immanuel Schools are Christian schools located in different areas of Reedley, California dedicated to religion and education. The schools offer a K-6 Immanuel Elementary school, a 7-8 Immanuel Junior High School, and a 9-12 Immanuel High School...

    , Reedley, California
  • Iowa Mennonite School
    Iowa Mennonite School
    Iowa Mennonite School is a private Mennonite high school near Kalona, Iowa, established in 1945.- Student body :Between 75% and 80% of the students are Mennonite, although students from any religious background are welcome...

    , Kalona, Iowa
  • Lancaster Mennonite High School
    Lancaster Mennonite School
    Lancaster Mennonite School is a private Christian school with four campuses in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Lancaster Campus, east of the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, serves students in grades six through twelve. The high school on the Lancaster Campus is known as Lancaster Mennonite...

    , Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Philadelphia Mennonite High School
    Philadelphia Mennonite High School
    Philadelphia Mennonite High School is a private Mennonite high school in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The school has approximately 100 students in 9th through 12th grades, and focuses on college preparation.-History:...

    , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Sarasota Christian School, Sarasota, Florida
  • Western Mennonite School
    Western Mennonite School
    Western Mennonite High School is a private Mennonite school near Salem, Oregon, United States.The school has been accredited by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools since 1975.Sports...

    , Salem, Oregon

Controversy in Quebec

Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 does not allow these parochial schools, as the Quebec government imposes its curriculum on all schools (public and private), while private schools may only add optional material to the compulsory curriculum but may not replace it. The Quebec curriculum is unacceptable to the parents of the only Mennonite school in the province. They have said they will leave Quebec, after the Education Ministry has threatened legal actions would be taken and that Youth Protection services might become involved if the children were not to register with the Education Ministry and either home-school using the Government approved material, or attend a "sanctioned" school. The local population and its mayor support the local Mennonites. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is a national parachurch association of over . All affiliated groups identify themselves as part of the evangelical movement in Canada....

 has also written to the Quebec government to express its concerns about this situation. This story has received quite a large echo in circles defending religious freedom, so much so that the Becket Fund placed Quebec on its weekly report of threatened religious traditions. Latest reports indicate that several Mennonites families have already left Quebec.
Canada
  • Bethany College, Hepburn, Saskatchewan
  • Canadian Mennonite University
    Canadian Mennonite University
    Canadian Mennonite University is a Christian university located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada that awards three and four-year degrees in a variety of programs...

    , Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Columbia Bible College
    Columbia Bible College (Abbotsford, British Columbia)
    Columbia Bible College is an institution of higher education in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The college states that its mission is to prepare people for a life of discipleship, service and ministry...

    , Abbotsford, British Columbia
  • Conrad Grebel University College
    Conrad Grebel University College
    Conrad Grebel University College is affiliated with the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. The college is owned by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada and named for early Anabaptist leader Conrad Grebel...

    , Waterloo, Ontario (part of the University of Waterloo
    University of Waterloo
    The University of Waterloo is a comprehensive public university in the city of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. The school was founded in 1957 by Drs. Gerry Hagey and Ira G. Needles, and has since grown to an institution of more than 30,000 students, faculty, and staff...

    )
  • Menno Simons College
    Menno Simons College
    Menno Simons College is a Mennonite college in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It is one of the three founding colleges of Canadian Mennonite University and is affiliated with the University of Winnipeg. MSC is located on the downtown campus of the University of Winnipeg.-History: The college is named...

    , Winnipeg, Manitoba (part of Canadian Mennonite University
    Canadian Mennonite University
    Canadian Mennonite University is a Christian university located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada that awards three and four-year degrees in a variety of programs...

     but affiliated with and located at the University of Winnipeg
    University of Winnipeg
    The University of Winnipeg is a public university in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada that offers undergraduate faculties of art, business and economics, education, science and theology as well as graduate programs. The U of W's founding colleges were Manitoba College and Wesley College, which merged...

    ).
  • Steinbach Bible College
    Steinbach Bible College
    Steinbach Bible College is a small Anabaptist college located in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada. It opened in 1936 as a training school for Mennonite Brethren and Evangelical Mennonite Brethren churches of Canada.-Affiliation:...

    , Steinbach, Manitoba

United States
  • Bethel College
    Bethel College (Kansas)
    Bethel College is a private college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. The college is located on the edge of the Flint Hills and the vast wheat fields of south central Kansas in the town of North Newton...

    , North Newton, Kansas
  • Bluffton University
    Bluffton University
    Bluffton University, located in Bluffton, Ohio, United States, is a Christian liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA.It was founded in 1899 as Central Mennonite College and became Bluffton College in 1913...

    , Bluffton, Ohio
  • Eastern Mennonite University
    Eastern Mennonite University
    Eastern Mennonite University is a private liberal arts university in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, affiliated with one of the historic peace churches, the Mennonite Church USA. Its main campus is on the edge of the small city of Harrisonburg, Virginia, about three miles from state-owned...

    , Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Fresno Pacific University
    Fresno Pacific University
    Fresno Pacific University also known as FPU is an accredited Christian university located in Fresno, California, United States. It was founded in 1944 by the Pacific District Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. The university awarded its first bachelor of arts degree in 1965...

    , Fresno, California
  • Goshen College
    Goshen College
    Goshen College, is a private Mennonite liberal arts college in Goshen, Indiana, USA with an enrollment of around 1,000 students. The college is accredited by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities...

    , Goshen, Indiana
  • Hesston College
    Hesston College
    Hesston College, a two-year college founded in 1909, is located in Hesston, Kansas, United States, north of Wichita. The college has an enrollment of about 450 students who typically come from about 30 states and 30 other countries...

    , Hesston, Kansas
  • Rosedale Bible College
    Rosedale Bible College
    Rosedale Bible College is an evangelical Anabaptist junior Bible college located in Rosedale in central Ohio. RBC offers associate degrees and one-year certificates in Biblical studies, with nine areas of concentration...

    , Rosedale, Ohio
  • Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas

Sexuality, marriage, and family mores

The Mennonite church has no formal celibate religious order similar to monasticism
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

, but recognizes the legitimacy of and honors both the single state and the sanctity of marriage of its members. Single persons are expected to be chaste, and marriage is held to be a lifelong, monogamous, faithful covenant between a man and a woman. In conservative groups, divorce is discouraged, and it is believed that the "hardness of the heart" of people is the ultimate cause of divorce. Some conservative churches have disciplined members who have unilaterally divorced their spouses outside of cases of sexual unfaithfulness or acute abuse. Until approximately the 1960s or 1970s, before the more widespread urbanization of the Mennonite demographic, divorce was, in fact, quite rare. In recent times, divorce is more common, and also carries less stigma, particularly in cases where abuse was apparent.

Traditionally, very modest dress was expected, particularly in conservative Mennonite circles. However, as the Mennonite population became urbanized and more integrated into the wider culture, this visible difference has disappeared outside of conservative Mennonite groups.

Some Mennonite communities embrace the idea of the rumspringa
Rumspringa
Rumspringa Pronounced A- generally refers to a period of adolescence for some members of the Amish, a subsect of the Anabaptist Christian movement, that begins around the...

, or that concept that young adults (peoples in their teens) may engage in rebellious behavior, often ignoring religious participation and engaging in behaviors that are "bad" but not necessarily illegal (drinking, partying, sneaking out, etc.). They are then expected to either conform to community standards or leave after entering adulthood (usually around the time they finish college, at the latest).

Some of these expelled congregations were dually affiliated with the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church, the latter of which did not act to expel the same congregations. When these two Mennonite denominations formally completed their merger in 2002 to become the new Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada denominations, it was still not clear, in all cases, whether or not the congregations that were expelled from one denomination, yet included in the other, are considered to be "inside" or "outside" of the new merged denomination. Also, some Mennonite conferences have chosen to maintain such "disciplined" congregations as "associate" or "affiliate" congregations in the conferences, rather than to expel such congregations. In virtually every case, a dialogue continues between the disciplined congregations and the denomination, as well as their current or former conferences.

The Mennonite church in the Netherlands was the first Dutch church to have a female pastor — Anna Zernike — authorized in 1911.

Theology

Mennonite theology emphasizes the primacy of the teachings of Jesus as recorded in New Testament scripture. They hold in common the ideal of a religious community based on New Testament models and imbued with the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount
Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of sayings and teachings of Jesus, which emphasizes his moral teaching found in the Gospel of Matthew...

. Their core beliefs deriving from Anabaptist traditions are:
  • Salvation
    Salvation
    Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

     through faith in Jesus Christ
  • The authority of Scripture and the Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

    .
  • Believer's baptism
    Believer's baptism
    Believer's baptism is the Christian practice of baptism as this is understood by many Protestant churches, particularly those that descend from the Anabaptist tradition...

     understood as threefold: Baptism by the spirit (internal change of heart), baptism by water (public demonstration of witness), and baptism by blood (martyrdom and asceticism or the practice of strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline).
  • Discipleship understood as an outward sign of an inward change.
  • Discipline in the church, informed by New Testament teaching, particularly of Jesus (for example ). Some Mennonite churches practice the Meidung (shunning).
  • The Lord's Supper
    Eucharist
    The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

     understood as a memorial rather than as a sacrament
    Sacrament
    A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

     or Christian rite, ideally shared by baptized believers within the unity and discipline of the church.


One of the earliest expressions of their faith was the Schleitheim Confession
Schleitheim Confession
The Schleitheim Confession was the most representative statement of Anabaptist principles, endorsed unanimously by a meeting of Swiss Anabaptists in 1527 in Schleitheim . The meeting was chaired by Michael Sattler. Michael Sattler was the leader of the Swiss and southern German Anabaptist movement...

, adopted on February 24, 1527. Its seven articles covered:
  • The Ban (excommunication
    Excommunication
    Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

    )
  • Breaking of bread (Communion
    Eucharist
    The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

    )
  • Separation from and shunning of the abomination
    Abomination (Bible)
    Abomination is an English term used to translate the Biblical Hebrew terms shiqquwts and sheqets, which are derived from shâqats, or the terms , tōʻēḇā or to'e'va or ta'ev...

     (the Roman Catholic Church and other "worldly" groups and practices)
  • Believer's baptism
  • Pastor
    Pastor
    The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....

    s in the church
  • Renunciation of the sword
    Sword
    A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

     (Christian pacifism
    Christian pacifism
    Christian pacifism is the theological and ethical position that any form of violence is incompatible with the Christian faith. Christian pacifists state that Jesus himself was a pacifist who taught and practiced pacifism, and that his followers must do likewise.There have been various notable...

    )
  • Renunciation of the oath
    Oath
    An oath is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow...

     (swearing as proof of truth)


The Dordrecht Confession of Faith
Dordrecht Confession of Faith
The Dordrecht Confession of Faith is a statement of religious beliefs adopted by Dutch Mennonite leaders at a meeting in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, on April 21, 1632...

 was adopted on April 21, 1632, by Dutch Mennonites, by Alsatian Mennonites in 1660, and by North American Mennonites in 1725. There is no official creed
Creed
A creed is a statement of belief—usually a statement of faith that describes the beliefs shared by a religious community—and is often recited as part of a religious service. When the statement of faith is longer and polemical, as well as didactic, it is not called a creed but a Confession of faith...

 or catechism
Catechism
A catechism , i.e. to indoctrinate) is a summary or exposition of doctrine, traditionally used in Christian religious teaching from New Testament times to the present...

 of which acceptance is required by congregations or members. However, there are structures and traditions taught as in the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.

Worship, doctrine, and tradition

There is a wide scope of worship, doctrine and traditions among Mennonites today. This section shows the main types of Mennonites as seen from North America. It is far from a specific study of all Mennonite classifications worldwide but it does show a somewhat representative sample of the complicated classifications within the Mennonite faith worldwide.

Moderate Mennonites include the largest denominations, the Mennonite Brethren and the Mennonite Church. In most forms of worship and practice they differ very little from other Protestant congregations. There is no special form of dress and no restrictions on use of technology. Worship styles vary greatly between different congregations. There is no formal liturgy; services typically consist of singing, scripture reading, prayer and a sermon
Sermon
A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a Biblical, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law or behavior within both past and present contexts...

. Some churches prefer hymns and choirs; others make use of contemporary Christian music with electronic instruments. Mennonite congregations are self-supporting and appoint their own ministers. There is no requirement for ministers to be approved by the denomination, and sometimes ministers from other denominations will be appointed. A small sum, based on membership numbers, is paid to the denomination, which is used to support central functions such as publication of newsletters and interactions with other denominations and other countries. The distinguishing characteristics of moderate Mennonite churches tend to be ones of emphasis rather than rule. There is an emphasis on peace, on community and service. However, members do not live in community — they participate in the general community as 'salt and light' to the world (Matt 5
Matthew 5
Matthew 5 is the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It contains the first portion of the Sermon on the Mount, which will also take up the next chapter and a half. Portions are similar to the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6, but much is found only in Matthew...

:13,14). The main elements of Menno Simons' doctrine are retained, but in a moderated form. Banning is rarely practiced and would in any event have much less effect than those denominations where community is more tight-knit. Excommunication can occur, and was notably applied by the Mennonite Brethren to members who joined the military during the Second World War. Service in the military is generally not permitted, but service in the legal profession or law enforcement is acceptable. Outreach and help to the wider community at home and abroad is encouraged. Mennonite Central Committee is a leader in foreign aid provision.

The Reformed Mennonite
Reformed Mennonite
The Reformed Mennonite Church is an Anabaptist religious denomination that officially separated from the main North American Mennonite body in 1812.-History:...

Church, with members in the United States and Canada, represents the first division in the original North American Mennonite body. Called the First Keepers of the Old Way by author Stephen Scott, the Reformed Mennonite Church formed in the very early 19th century. Reformed Mennonites see themselves as true followers of Menno Simons' teachings and of the teachings of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

. They have no church rules, but they rely solely on the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 as their guide. They insist on strict separation from all other forms of worship and dress in conservative plain garb that preserves 18th century Mennonite details. However, they refrain from forcing their Mennonite faith on their children, allow their children to attend public schools, and have permitted the use of automobiles. They are notable for being the church of Milton S. Hershey
Milton S. Hershey
Milton Snavely Hershey was an American confectioner, philanthropist, and founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company and the "company town" of Hershey, Pennsylvania....

's mother and famous for the long and bitter ban of Robert Bear, a Pennsylvania farmer who rebelled against what he saw as dishonesty and disunity in the leadership.

Holdeman Mennonites were founded from a schism in 1859, the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite
Church of God in Christ, Mennonite
Church of God in Christ, Mennonite is a 19th century offshoot of the Mennonite Church. They are also known as Holdeman Mennonites, after a leader, John Holdeman, who saw the decay in the Old Mennonite Church and having tried his best to reach all the mennonites in the US and Canada, and make them...

 church has about 22,000 members worldwide. They are known as Holdeman Mennonites after their founder. They emphasize evangelical conversion and strict church discipline. They stay separate from other Mennonite groups because of their emphasis on the one-true church doctrine and their use of avoidance toward their own excommunicated members. The Holdeman mennonites do not believe that the use of modern technology is sin in itself. But they discourage too intensive use of internet and avoid television, cameras and radio.

Old Order Mennonites cover many distinct groups. Some groups use horse and buggies for transportation and speak German while others drive cars and speak English. What most Old Orders share in common is conservative doctrine, dress, and traditions, common roots in 19th century and early 20th century schisms, and a refusal to participate in politics and other so-called 'sins of the world'. Most Old Order groups also school their children in Mennonite-operated schools.

  • Horse and Buggy Old Order Mennonites came from the main series of Old Order schisms that began in 1872 and ended in 1901 in Ontario, Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Midwest, as conservative Mennonites fought the radical changes that the influence of 19th century American revivalism had on Mennonite worship. Most Horse and Buggy Old Order Mennonites allow the use of tractors for farming, although some groups insist on steel-wheeled tractors to prevent tractors from being used for road transportation. Like the Stauffer or Pike Mennonites (origin 1845 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania), the Groffdale Conference, and the Old Order Mennonite Conference of Ontario, they stress separation from the world, excommunicate, and wear plain clothes. Some Old Order Mennonite groups are unlike the Stauffer or Pike Mennonites in that their form of the Ban is less severe because the ex-communicant is not shunned, and is therefore not excluded from the family table, shunned by a spouse, or cut off from business dealings.

  • Automobile Old Order Mennonites, also known as Weaverland Conference Mennonites (having their origins in the Weaverland District of the Lancaster Conference -- also calling "Horning"), or Wisler Mennonites in the US Midwest, or the Markham/Waterloo Conference having its origins from the Old Order Mennonites of Ontario, Canada, also evolved from the main series of Old Order schisms from 1872-1901. They often share the same meeting houses with, and adhere to almost identical forms of Old Order worship as their Horse and Buggy Old Order brethren with whom they parted ways in the early 20th century. Although this group began using cars in 1927, the cars were required to be plain and painted black. The largest group of Automobile Old Orders are still known today as "Black Bumper" Mennonites because some members still paint their chrome bumpers black.


Stauffer Mennonite
Stauffer Mennonite
Stauffer, or Piker, Mennonites are “Team Mennonites”, meaning they use horse drawn transportation. The original church was founded in 1845 but split into several separate churches very quickly. As of 2010, these groups are among the most conservative of all Swiss Mennonites outside the Amish...

s
or Pike Mennonites represent one of the first and most conservative form of North American Horse and Buggy Mennonites. They were founded in 1845, following conflicts about how to discipline child
Child abuse
Child abuse is the physical, sexual, emotional mistreatment, or neglect of a child. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Children And Families define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or...

 and spousal abuse by a few Mennonite church members. They almost immediately began to split into separate churches themselves. Today these groups are among the most conservative of all Swiss Mennonites outside the Amish. They stress strict separation from "the world", adhere to "strict withdrawal from and shunning of apostate and separated members", forbid and limit cars and technology, and wear plain clothing.

Conservative Mennonites
Conservative Mennonites
Conservative Mennonites include numerous groups who identify with the more conservative or traditional element among Mennonite or Anabaptist groups but not necessarily Old Order groups...

are generally considered those Mennonites who maintain somewhat conservative dress, although carefully accepting other technology. They are not a unified group and are divided into various independent conferences and fellowships such as the Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church conference. Despite the rapid changes that precipitated the Old Order schisms in the last quarter of the 19th century, most Mennonites in the United States and Canada retained a core of traditional beliefs based on literal interpretation of the New Testament Scriptures as well as more external 'Plain' practices into the beginning of the 20th century. However, disagreements in the United States and Canada between conservative
Conservative Christianity
Conservative Christianity is a term applied to a number of groups or movements seen as giving priority to traditional Christian beliefs and practices...

 and progressive (i.e. less emphasis on literal interpretation of scriptures) leaders began in the first half of the 20th century and continue to some extent today. Following WWII, a conservative movement emerged from scattered separatist groups as a reaction to the Mennonite Churches drifting away from the churches historical traditions. 'Plain' became passé as open criticisms of traditional beliefs and practices broke out in the 1950s and 1960s. The first conservative withdrawals from the progressive group began in the 1950s. These withdrawals continue to the present day in what is now the growing Conservative Movement formed from Mennonite schisms and/or from combinations with progressive Amish
Amish
The Amish , sometimes referred to as Amish Mennonites, are a group of Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches...

 groups. While Moderate and Progressive Mennonite congregations have dwindled in size, the Conservative Movement congregations continue to exhibit considerable growth. Other Conservative Mennonite groups descend from the former Amish-Mennonite churches, who split from the Old Order Amish in the latter part of the 19th century like the Wisler Mennonites. (The Wisler Mennonites are a grouping descended from the Old Mennonite Church). There are also other Conservative Mennonite churches that descend from more recent groups that have left the Amish like the Beachy Amish or the Tennessee Brotherhood Churches.

Progressive
Progressive Christianity
Progressive Christianity is the name given to a movement within contemporary Christianity characterized by willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity with a strong emphasis on social justice or care for the poor and the oppressed and environmental stewardship of the Earth...

 Mennonite
churches allow LGBTQ members to worship as church members and have been banned from membership in some cases in the moderate groups as result. The Germantown Mennonite Church in Germantown, Pennsylvania is one example of such a progressive Mennonite church. Progressive Mennonite Churches place a great emphasis on the Mennonite tradition's teachings on peace and non-violence.

Membership

In 2006, there were 1,478,540 Mennonites in 65 countries. The United States had the highest number of Mennonites with 368,280 members, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 with 216,268 members. The third largest concentration of Mennonites was in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 with 146,095 members, while the fourth largest population was in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 with 131,384 members. Europe, the birthplace of Mennonites, had 52,222 members.

Africa has the highest membership growth rate by far, with 10% to 12% rise every year, particularly in Ethiopia. Growth in Mennonite membership is slow but steady in North America, the Asia/Pacific region, and the South/Central America and Caribbean region. Europe has seen a slow and accelerating decline in Mennonite membership since about 1980.

Some churches in North America have begun profiling potential members and with some success have targeted inner city minorities in their recruitment efforts. Growth in the traditional churches is outpacing growth in the moderate churches.

Organization worldwide

The most basic unit of organization among Mennonites is the church. There are hundreds or thousands of Mennonite churches, many of which are separate from all others. Some churches are members of regional or area conferences. Some, but far from all, regional or area conferences are members of larger national or world conferences. Thus, there is no single authorized organization that includes all Mennonite churches worldwide.

Instead, there is a host of separate churches along with a myriad of separate conferences with no particular responsibility to any other group. Independent churches can contain as few as 50 members or as many as 20,000 members. Similar size differences occur among separate conferences. Worship, church discipline and lifestyles vary widely between progressive, moderate, conservative, Old Order and orthodox Mennonites in a vast panoply of distinct, independent, and widely dispersed classifications. For these reasons, no single group of Mennonites anywhere can credibly claim to represent, speak for, or lead all Mennonites worldwide.

The twelve largest Mennonite groups are:
  1. Mennonite Brethren (300,000 members on 6 continents worldwide)
  2. Old Order Amish
    Amish
    The Amish , sometimes referred to as Amish Mennonites, are a group of Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches...

     Church (250,000 in North America)
  3. Meserete Kristos Church
    Meserete Kristos Church
    Meserete Kristos Church , meaning "Christ is the foundation Church" is an Ethiopian Anabaptist church with 205,508 baptized members and a worship community of over 389,482 persons as of August 2009. The church has over 591 congregations and 863 church planting centers scattered in all 18...

     in Ethiopia
    Ethiopia
    Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

     (120,600 members;126,000 more followers attending alike churches)
  4. Old Colony Mennonite Church (120,000 in US, Canada, Mexico, Belize, Argentina, and Bolivia)
  5. Mennonite Church USA
    Mennonite Church USA
    The Mennonite Church USA, or MCUSA, is an Anabaptist Christian denomination in the United States. Although the organization is a recent 2002 merger of the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church, the body has roots in the Radical Reformation of the 16th century...

     with 114,000 members in the United States
  6. Brethren in Christ with 100,000 US and worldwide members
  7. Communauté Mennonite au Congo
    Democratic Republic of the Congo
    The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

    (87,000).
  8. Kanisa La Mennonite Tanzania
    Tanzania
    The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

     with 50,000 members in 240 congregations
  9. Deutsche Mennonitengemeinden with 40,000 members in Germany http://www.mennoniten.de/deutschland.html
  10. Mennonite Church Canada
    Mennonite Church Canada
    Mennonite Church Canada is the conference of Mennonites in Canada, with head offices in Winnipeg, Manitoba.The first Mennonites in Canada arrived from Pennsylvania in 1786. The majority of the Mennonites that migrated to Canada over the next 150 years came directly from Europe...

     with 35,000 members in Canada
  11. Conservative Mennonites
    Conservative Mennonites
    Conservative Mennonites include numerous groups who identify with the more conservative or traditional element among Mennonite or Anabaptist groups but not necessarily Old Order groups...

     with 30,000 members in over 500 US churches (2008 CLP church directory).
  12. Church of God in Christ, Mennonite
    Church of God in Christ, Mennonite
    Church of God in Christ, Mennonite is a 19th century offshoot of the Mennonite Church. They are also known as Holdeman Mennonites, after a leader, John Holdeman, who saw the decay in the Old Mennonite Church and having tried his best to reach all the mennonites in the US and Canada, and make them...

     with 21,765 members in about 19,000 in the US and Canada, with the remaining in members in 32 other countries (2008 data)


The Mennonite World Conference
Mennonite World Conference
The Mennonite World Conference is a global community of Christian churches that facilitates community between Anabaptist-related churches and relates to other Christian world communions and organizations....

 is a global community of 95 Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Mennonite national Churches from 51 countries on six continents. It exists to "facilitate community between Anabaptist-related churches worldwide, and relate to other Christian world communions and organizations", but it is not a 'governing body' of any kind. It is a voluntary community of faith whose decisions are not binding on member churches. The member churches of Mennonite World Conference include the Mennonite Brethren, the Mennonite Church USA, and the Mennonite Church Canada, with a combined total membership of at least 400,000, or about 30% of Mennonites worldwide.

Organization: North America

In 2003, there were about 323,000 Mennonites in the United States. About 110,000 were members of Mennonite Church USA churches, about 26,000 were members of Mennonite Brethren churches, and about 40,000 (2008 CLP church directory) were members of conservative churches. It is not known how many old order Mennonites there are. Other sources list 236,084 total United States Mennonites.

Total membership in Mennonite Church USA denominations decreased from about 133,000, before the merger in 1998, to about 114,000 after the merger in 2003. The Mennonite Church USA has begun profiling potential members and has been successful at recruiting inner-city minorities into the church in several large cities in the United States. Significant growth in the conservative churches seems to be occurring by itself in the already existing communities.

In Canada, in 2003 there were around 130,000 Mennonites. About 37,000 of those were members of Mennonite Church Canada churches and about another 35,000 of those were members of Mennonite Brethren churches. About 5,000 belonged to conservative Old Order Mennonite churches, or other ultra-conservative and orthodox churches. (That leaves about 55,000 Mennonites unaccounted for in other Canadian churches).

As of 2003, there were an estimated 80,000 Old Colony Mennonites in Mexico. These Mennonites descend from a mass migration in the 1920s of roughly 6,000 Old Colony Mennonites from the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In 1921, a Canadian Mennonite delegation arriving in Mexico received a privilegium, a promise of non-interference, from the Mexican government. This guarantee of many freedoms was the impetus that created the two original Old Colony settlements near Patos (Nuevo Ideal
Nuevo Ideal
Nuevo Ideal is a city and seat of the municipality of Nuevo Ideal, in the state of Durango, north-western Mexico....

), Durango
Durango
Durango officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Durango is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. The state is located in Northwest Mexico. With a population of 1,632,934, it has Mexico's second-lowest population density, after Baja...

, and Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua
Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua
Ciudad Cuauhtémoc is a city located in the west-central part of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It serves as the seat of the municipality of Cuauhtémoc....

.

Organization: United Kingdom

There is the United Kingdom Mennonite Ministry, which is part of the Nationwide Mennonites from Wisconsin (USA) which meets in Old Sodbury.
There are also the British Conference of Mennonites, and the London Mennonite Centre.

See also

  • Amish
    Amish
    The Amish , sometimes referred to as Amish Mennonites, are a group of Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches...

  • Anabaptism
  • Canadian Mennonite University
    Canadian Mennonite University
    Canadian Mennonite University is a Christian university located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada that awards three and four-year degrees in a variety of programs...

  • Eastern Mennonite Missions
    Eastern Mennonite Missions
    Eastern Mennonite Missions is a mission agency primarily supported by congregations of Lancaster Mennonite Conference, an area conference of Mennonite Church USA. Eastern Mennonite Missions sends more than 250 short- and long-term workers per year to approximately thirty-five countries...

  • Excommunication
    Excommunication
    Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

  • Funkite
    Funkite
    Funkites were a group of Mennonite followers that splintered from mainstream Mennonites as the result of a schism caused by Bishop Christian Funk....

  • Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online
    Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online
    The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online is an online encyclopedia of topics relating to Mennonites and Anabaptism. The mission of the project is to provide free, reliable, English-language information on anabaptist-related topics....

  • Guy Hershberger
    Guy Hershberger
    Guy F. Hershberger was an American Mennonite theologian, educator, historian, and prolific author particularly in the field of Mennonite ethics.-Life:...

  • Hutterites
  • Living in A Perfect World
    Living in a Perfect World
    Living in A Perfect World is a 2006 feature-length documentary film by National Geographic Channel International about the Russian Mennonite people between Chihuahua Desert and the Bolivian forest....

  • Martyrs Mirror
    Martyrs Mirror
    The Martyrs Mirror or The Bloody Theater, first published in 1660 in Dutch by Thieleman J. van Braght, documents the stories and testimonies of Christian martyrs, especially Anabaptists...

  • Mennonite Central Committee
    Mennonite Central Committee
    The Mennonite Central Committee is a relief, service, and peace agency representing 15 Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Amish bodies in North America. The U.S. headquarters are in Akron, Pennsylvania, the Canadian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.-History:...

  • Mennonite Church Canada
    Mennonite Church Canada
    Mennonite Church Canada is the conference of Mennonites in Canada, with head offices in Winnipeg, Manitoba.The first Mennonites in Canada arrived from Pennsylvania in 1786. The majority of the Mennonites that migrated to Canada over the next 150 years came directly from Europe...

  • Mennonite Church USA Archives
    Mennonite Church USA Archives
    The Mennonite Church USA Archives was founded in 2001 under the denominational merger of the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church...


Mennonite denominations
  • Mennonite Disaster Service
    Mennonite Disaster Service
    The Mennonite Disaster Service is a volunteer network through which various groups within the Anabaptist tradition assist people affected by disasters in North America...

  • Mennonites in Belize
    Mennonites in Belize
    As of 2008, there are close to 10,000 conservative Prussian Mennonites living in Belize. In addition to this there are another 2,000 mostly Kriol and Mestizo Belizeans who have converted to Mennonitism. Mennonites living in Belize are among the most traditional and conservative amongst all the...

  • Mennonites in Bolivia
    Mennonites in Bolivia
    As of 2010, there are close to 60,000 conservative Russian Mennonites living in Bolivia. In addition to this there are a number of native Bolivians who have converted to Mennonitism...

  • Mennonites in France
    Mennonites in France
    The Mennonites in France are religious descendents of the Anabaptist movement. Anabaptists first appeared in the east of France during the early years of the Protestant Reformation. Strasbourg was a haven for all kinds of religious dissidents during this period...

  • Mennonites in Mexico
  • Mennonites in Paraguay
    Mennonites in Paraguay
    As of 2010, there are 80,000 to 60,000 conservative Russian Mennonites living in Paraguay. In addition to this there are a number of native Paraguayans who have converted to Mennonitism. Mennonites contribute heavily to the agricultural and dairy output of Paraguay. Ethnic Mennonites in Paraguay...

  • Mennonite settlements of Altai
    Mennonite settlements of Altai
    Mennonite settlements of Altai arose after the 19 September 1906 act of the Duma and State Council of Imperial Russia, which provided for a resettlement bureau to distribute free land in Altai Krai...

  • More-with-Less Cookbook
    More-with-Less Cookbook
    The More-with-Less Cookbook is a cookbook commissioned by the Mennonite Central Committee in 1976 with the goal of "helping Christians respond in a caring-sharing way in a world with limited food resources" and "to challenge North Americans to consume less so others could eat enough"...

  • Orthodox Mennonites (Canada)
    Orthodox Mennonites (Canada)
    The Orthodox Mennonites consist of two separate but related groups of Old Order Mennonites located in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. The original unified group, named Elam Martins, was a division from the David Martin Mennonites in Waterloo Region, Canada in 1957.The Elam Martins, named after their...

  • Hans Reist
    Hans Reist
    Hans Reist was an elder of the Swiss Brethren, an Anabaptist group.Nothing is known of Reist's background or birthplace. He was probably from the Sumiswald region of Emmental in the Canton of Berne...

  • Schleitheim Confession
    Schleitheim Confession
    The Schleitheim Confession was the most representative statement of Anabaptist principles, endorsed unanimously by a meeting of Swiss Anabaptists in 1527 in Schleitheim . The meeting was chaired by Michael Sattler. Michael Sattler was the leader of the Swiss and southern German Anabaptist movement...

  • Shunning
    Shunning
    Shunning can be the act of social rejection, or mental rejection. Social rejection is when a person or group deliberately avoids association with, and habitually keeps away from an individual or group. This can be a formal decision by a group, or a less formal group action which will spread to all...

  • Silent Light
    Silent Light
    - External links :* * at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival* - External links :* * at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival* - External links :* * at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival*...

    a 2007 film by the Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas
    Carlos Reygadas
    Carlos Reygadas is a Mexican filmmaker known for his three films Batalla en el Cielo, Japón and Silent Light . After Batalla en el Cielo, he was known for his raw depiction of sex in his films and the use of old or ugly-seeming characters...

     set in a Mennonite community telling the story of a married man who falls in love with another woman.
  • Simple living
    Simple living
    Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one's lifestyle. These may include reducing one's possessions or increasing self-sufficiency, for example. Simple living may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they need rather than want...

  • Ten Thousand Villages
    Ten Thousand Villages
    Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit fair trade organization that markets handcrafted products made by disadvantaged artisans from more than 120 artisan groups in more than 38 countries....

  • Virginia Mennonite Missions
  • John Howard Yoder
    John Howard Yoder
    John Howard Yoder was a Christian theologian, ethicist, and Biblical scholar best known for his radical Christian pacifism, his mentoring of future theologians such as Stanley Hauerwas, his loyalty to his Mennonite faith, and his 1972 magnum opus, The Politics of Jesus.-Life:Yoder earned his...



External links

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