People are often confused as to what a Mennonite is so I thought I would briefly give you a bit of history.
The term Mennonite comes from Menno Simons who was a catholic priest in 1536 in the Netherlands. During and even before the priesthood, he never read the Bible. When he started getting questions about the bread and wine at the Lord’s supper, he went into deep study of the Bible. Shortly after he heard about the Anabaptists, his brother being one of them and he started studying infant baptism. He believed it to be wrong and so he left the Catholic Church, was baptized again and became a minister. The followers of Menno Simons were called Mennonites.
Some of the things they believed in were (and still are):
- voluntary adult baptism
- No swearing of oaths
- No violence/ pacifists
- Separation from state/and the world
- Communion for believers
- Shunning or excommunication for believers who were unrepentant of their sins
The Mennonites were greatly persecuted at that time by the Catholic Church. Mennonites, Hutterites and Amish all come from the same original Anabaptist group. Jacob Hutter (Hutterites), Menno Simons (Mennonites) and Jacob Ammen (Amish).
The main reason for the split of these groups was because they couldn’t agree on how strictly the church should enforce the rules of the church.
Further down the line, due to persecution, they migrated to the Ukraine, Prussia, Russia and some other countries. Some immigrated to North America already at this time. (My family lineage comes from Russia.) When persecution started there, they migrated to Canada. With time the state wouldn’t allow the Mennonites to have their own private schools, so some of them picked up and moved to Mexico. Some stayed in the U.S.A and some stayed here in Canada. The term Mexican Mennonite is somewhat incorrect for all of us because we originate from all different parts of the world. Many have never even been to Mexico. My great grandparents were born in Saskatchewan.
So that is some basic history. In the future I plan to share a bit more about our culture and maybe go into a bit of a deeper explanation of the difference between Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites.
Some good books on the topic of the persecution during Menno’s time or just about Mennonites and Menno Simons in general are:
Not Regina by Christmas Carol Kauffman (Fiction)
Menno Simons: His Life, Labours and Teachings
The Mennonites: A Brief History of Their Origin and Later Development in Both Europe and America