About Mennonites

Menno Simons. Marsupium CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Menno Simons. Marsupium, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mennonite Historical Roots

The Mennonite Church grew out of the Radical Reformation in Europe, when the Anabaptists imitated the first century Christian church, by stating their allegiance to Jesus Christ, their adherence to the Scriptures as their guide, and their beliefs in baptism upon confession of faith (instead of being born into the church), discipleship, the priesthood of all believers, and nonresistance. They held to these beliefs in spite of severe persecution and even martyrdom.

This principle of nonresistance, or biblical pacifism, has been practiced resolutely by the faith descendants of the Anabaptists, particularly in a steadfast stance of conscientious objection to war, and in working toward conflict resolution in troubled areas around the world. It is this principle that Mennonites continue to uphold as they “seek peace and pursue it.”

Mennonites Today

Today, as with any group of people, you will find Mennonites of all “shapes and stripes” with differing beliefs and understandings of our place in the world. No, we are not Amish but at the center of Mennonitism you will often find a core of people that are seeking to engage, in meaningful ways, their communities where they live and the world around them.

Church members sit attentively and listening intently.

Our Beliefs as Mennonites

At the center of Mennonite teachings is the belief in Jesus Christ as the one who died and rose from the dead in order that people could live in union with God. Mennonites believe that the life and teachings of Jesus guide our daily living. We believe that the church should keep Christ’s life and ministry alive in the world, just as though Christ was still living on earth. That’s why the church gets referred to as the “body of Christ.”

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New Life in Christ

Because we are human beings, we all sin: we commit wrongs, we don’t do the things we should, and we’re out of touch with God. In history, God sent Jesus Christ to the world so that all those who believe in Jesus Christ could receive forgiveness for their sins, as well as the gift of a whole life today and the promise of living forever with God. Taking part in a regular worship service enables Christians to respond to God with praise and thanks, and to live for Jesus through the week.

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Helping each other

“In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Ro. 12:5, NIV). Mennonites feel that Christians need each other for encouragement and growth, for confronting one another in a supportive way, and for help in times of crisis. The church grows in faith, unity, service, and witness when it is a caring and loving community.

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Commitment to Christ

A church is strong when those present experience God’s love and are wholeheartedly committed to its purpose. For that reason, “believer’s baptism” is practiced to symbolize the decision of an adult to make a public commitment to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. In baptism the believer shows willingness to share the good news about Jesus by words and actions.

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Living Peacefully

As disciples of Jesus, Mennonites try to live under Christ’s rule: for many this means loving the enemy and refusing to use violence or participate in military service, living peaceably with others at all levels, serving the poor and needy, and taking risks to work actively for justice and mercy.

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Reaching out to the World

Jesus Christ said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21, RSV). He sends the church to bring “good news” to all persons throughout the world. Jesus wants his followers to help each other. As Jesus put it, “The Spirit of the Lord … has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, … freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind” (Luke 4:18, RSV). Mennonites also believe it’s important to be concerned for both the “spiritual” and “physical” aspects of life.

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Belonging to each other

“In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Ro. 12:5, NIV). Mennonites feel that Christians need each other for encouragement and growth, for confronting one another in a supportive way, and for help in times of crisis. The church grows in faith, unity, service, and witness when it is a caring and loving community.

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The Bible Central

The church tries to live in obedience to the Word of God — the Bible. Mennonites believe that God’s spirit, or “Holy Spirit,” helps the community of believers understand that Word. The life and teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Bible help in interpreting the meaning of the “Old Testament” part of the Bible: “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:1 1, RSV). The Holy Spirit uses the written Word to give new life to the church and to help people grow in faith.

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