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Mennonites & Anabaptists
Mennonites are part of a Protestant Christian tradition which goes back directly to the Anabaptists, the most radical group that emerged from the Protestant Reformation in Europe in the early 1500s.
The name “Anabaptist” literally means "re-baptizer" – a pejorative nickname given to the group because they rejected infant baptism, instead baptizing adults who were able to make an informed commitment to their faith. This, in addition to other beliefs and practices such as voluntary church membership, separation of church and state, and pacifism were the cause for harsh persecution and even martyrdom of early Anabaptists by the dominant state governments of Europe.
In its early days, Anabaptism grew three branches: Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites. A fourth, the Brethren, emerged in Germany in 1708. Today Mennonites – named after Menno Simons (1496-1561), a former Roman Catholic priest who led an Anabaptist group in Holland - comprise more than 50 groups, ranging from Old Order to progressive. In between are numerous conservative bodies whose members drive cars and engage in mission activity but wear plain clothing and embrace conservative standards of doctrine and practice.
Today, Anabaptists and Mennonites share many beliefs in common with other Christians, but often hold these convictions somewhat differently than others. A 1943 essay by Harold S. Bender is widely considered the most influential view of Anabaptism in the 20th Century. In it, he sets out the following three core ideas:
Today, there are over 236,000 Mennonites in America, and over 1.6 million worldwide.
You can find out more information about Mennonites and Anabaptists at these websites:
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