The Mennonites are Christian groups belonging to the church communities of Anabaptist denominations named after Menno Simons (1496–1561) of Friesland in what is now one of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. Through his writings, Simons articulated and formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders. The early teachings of the Mennonites were founded on the belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus, which the original Anabaptist followers held to with great conviction despite persecution by the various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. Rather than fight, the majority of these followers 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 21st-century 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 is also a discussion about the term " ethnic Mennonite". Conservative Mennonite groups, who speak Pennsylvania German, Plautdietsch (Low German), or Bernese German fit well into the definition of an ethnic group, while more liberal groups and converts in developing countries do not.
There are about 2.1 million Anabaptists worldwide as of 2015 (including Mennonites, Amish, Mennonite Brethren, and many other Anabaptist groups formally part of the Mennonite World Conference). 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. Mennonites can also be found in tight-knit communities in at least 87 countries on six continents or scattered amongst the populace of those countries. There are German Mennonite colonies in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, and Paraguay, who are mostly descendants of Plautdietsch-speaking Mennonites who formed as a German ethnic group in what is today Ukraine. A small Mennonite congregation continues in the Netherlands where Simons was born.
The Mennonite Disaster Service, based in North America, provides both immediate and long-term responses to hurricanes, floods, and other disasters. Mennonite Central Committee 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 become more actively involved with peace and social justice issues, helping to found Christian Peacemaker Teams and Mennonite Conciliation Service.
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Mennonist \Men"non*ist\, Mennonite \Men"non*ite\, n. (Eccl. Hist.) One of a small denomination of Christians, so called from Menno Simons of Friesland, their founder. They believe that the New Testament is the only rule of faith, that there is no original sin, that infants should not be baptized, and that Christians ought not to take oath, hold office, or render military service.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
member of an Anabaptist sect, 1560s, from name of Menno Simons (1492-1559), founder of the sect in Friesland, + -ite (1). As an adjective by 1727. Alternative form Mennonist (n.) attested from 1640s.
Usage examples of "mennonite".
The bloodlines of most Amish, and those Mennonites descended from them, are so tangled and intertwined that most of us are our own cousins.
Back in the days when my people were Amish, there had been no light in the barn, but my grandparents had joined the Mennonite church and were allowed electricity.
The Catholicism of the Matern family, as one might expect of a family of millers, was dependent on the wind, and since there was always a profitable breeze on the Island, the Matern mill ran year in year out, deterring them from the excessive churchgoing that would have antagonized the Mennonites.
It was men, and not women, who invented such sordid and literal faiths as those of the Mennonites, Dunkards, Wesleyans and Scotch Presbyterians, with their antipathy to beautiful ritual, their obscene buttonholing of God, their great talent for reducing the ineffable mystery of religion to a mere bawling of idiots.
Mennonites, Schwenkenfelders, Dunkards, Moravians and Amish, but it was the Amish in particular who spoke the Palatinate dialect of High German that eventually evolved into the tongue that most know as Pennsylvania Dutch.
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Mennonites, Anabaptists and the rest of them still give me something to laugh about.
Very quickly, Altona found itself well-nigh flooded with every unpopular religious group: Mennonites, Anabaptists, Jews.