Who Are the Mennonites?
First and foremost, Mennonites are Christians. Our beliefs and actions are grounded in the life, teachings, death, resurrection, and promise of Jesus Christ. We believe in one God who is manifested through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Mennonites practice believers baptism and are committed to non resistance and serving others. We believe in the priesthood of all believers and read scripture together through the lens of Jesus Christ.
Mennonites track their history to the Protestant Reformation in Europe in the 1500s. Following the religious reforms of Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, our faith ancestors questioned many of the practices of the church of that day. As they looked to the scriptures for guidance they concluded that the state church’s practice of baptizing infants was in error. Only adults can make a decision to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized. In January 1525 this belief was put into a reality when a small group of believers “rebaptized” each other in secret.
As the ideas of this movement spread, persecutions of the group began. The practice of baptizing adults was seen as heresy and deemed illegal. Authorities called these believers Anabaptists, meaning “rebaptizers.” Although many were condemned for their beliefs the Anabaptist movement grew. Along with practicing adult baptism, the early Anabaptists also came to the conclusion that Jesus modeled and taught the way of peace. Additionally Mennonites believed in the “priesthood of all believers,” meaning that all believers are equal and have a say in the interpretation and application of scripture.
Mennonites get their name from a former priest by the name of Menno Simons. Menno became part of the fledgling Anabaptist movement in 1536 and soon became a leader in it. Those who followed Menno became known as Mennonites and the name has stuck around ever since. Menno was also a prolific writer who articulated many of the things the Anabaptists believed. Perhaps his best known quote is: “True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant... It clothes the naked. It feeds the hungry. It comforts the sorrowful. It shelters the destitute. It serves those that harm it. It binds up that which is wounded. It has become all things to all people.”
Today Mennonites can be found all around the world on all six continents. Along with Amish, Hutterities, and Brethren believers, Mennonites are part of the global Anabaptist family. Rossmere Mennonite Church is a member of Atlantic Coast Conference, Mennonite Church USA, and Mennonite World Conference. For more information about Mennonites check out www.thirdway.com