Friday, December 20, 2013

What is a Mennonite?

The Mennonites are a Christian group based around the church communities of Anabaptist denominations named after Menno Simons (1496–1561) of Friesland (at that time, a part of the Holy Roman Empire). Through his writings, Simons articulated and 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, 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 believer's baptism. Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the historic peace churches because of their commitment to pacifism.
In contemporary society, Mennonites either are described only as a religious denomination with members of different ethnic origins or as both an ethnic group and a religious denomination. 

There is controversy among Mennonites about this issue, with some insisting that they are simply a religious group while others argue that they form a distinct ethnic group.  

Some historians and sociologists treat Mennonites as an ethno-religious group, while other historians challenge that perception.

There are about 1.7 million Mennonites worldwide as of 2012. Mennonite congregations worldwide embody the full scope of Mennonite practice from "plain people" to those who are indistinguishable in dress and appearance from the general population. 

The largest populations of Mennonites are in India, Ethiopia, Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United States, but Mennonites can also be found in tight-knit communities in at least 82 countries on six continents or scattered amongst the populace of those countries.

Below are the Mennonites I am mainly posting about.

There are Low German Mennonite colonies in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, and Paraguay, who are mostly descendants of Mennonites from Eastern Europe. A small Mennonite congregation continues in the Netherlands where Simons was born.

I will be adding more posts about the Eastern European Mennonites, tracing the migration history.

I got most of these facts from               

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