Mennonite FAQs

What do Mennonites believe?

Mennonites are Christians. We believe that every person is a sinner who deserves eternal death. But God graciously sent his perfect son Jesus to die instead of us. Jesus’ death removes our sin and allows us to come before our holy God.

Some distinguishing characteristics in regards to other denominations* are:

  • Nonresistance/Pacifism
  • Separation of Church and State
  • Living Simply/Stewardship
  • Discipleship Emphasis (obeying the Bible)
  • Service (esp. relief work)
  • Community
  • Believer’s Baptism (vs. infant baptism)
  • Salvation by Faith (vs. sacraments)
  • Priesthood of the Believers (vs. papal authority)
  • Footwashing Ceremonies
  • Excommunication/Accountability

Resource: 1963 Mennonite Confession of Faith.

What is the history of Mennonites?

For centuries, the church was largely under the authority of the Catholic pope. However, in 1517 when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses criticizing the Catholic church, the Protestant Reformation was born.

Anabaptists felt like the Protestant Reformation didn’t go far enough (sometimes calling themselves the “Third Way”). This third, smaller group started when Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, and Wilhelm Reublin illegally baptized each other one night.

Anabaptists were fragmented because of intense persecution. Menno Simons was a leader of some of these Anabaptist groups that became known as the Mennonites. Other Anabaptist groups include the Hutterites, Brethren, Dunkards, Amish and Beachy Amish.

What is the difference between Amish and Mennonite?

In the late 1600s, Jacob Amman and his followers left the Mennonites and started the Amish because they did not feel that Mennonites were severe enough when they excommunicated a church member. While at that time their dress and mode of travel were not all that different, the Amish emphasized nonconformity as more technology was developed.

How do Mennonites live?

I would argue that one is a Mennonite based on his theology –not his lifestyle, but, for better or worse, Mennonites have developed a sense of culture. We like to joke about our affinity for farms, thriftiness, big families, four-part a cappella singing, hymn #606, Dutch Blitz, Rook, the “Mennonite Game” (finding out how you’re related to someone), Pennsylvania Dutch accents, shoefly pie, quilts, and whoopee pies.

Perhaps the story which has been retold so much it’s become a part of our identity is of Dirk Willems an early Anabaptist in the 1500s who had been put in prison because he was rebaptized as an adult and had hosted adult baptisms in his home. He escaped by running across an icy pond. When his pursuer fell in, Dirk went back and rescued him instead of running away. In going back, Dirk was recaptured, tortured and burned at the stake.

 *Denominations are Protestant groups who unite over similar beliefs. For example, Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians/Anglicans, and Presbyterians are various denominations.

All information compiled and researched by Tabitha Driver