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Thursday, 5 May 2016


The radical Protestant group, the Mennonites developed from the Anabaptist movement. They took their name from their most prominent early leader Menno Simons who died in 1561.

Menno Simons

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.

The Mennonites were the first Christian group in the colonies to condemn slavery in Pennsylvania in 1688.

Swiss Mennonite leader Jakob Ammon formed his own branch of the church following a schism in Switzerland and South Germany within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Mennonites in 1693 The split came about after Ammon took issue with other Swiss Mennonite leaders over discipline issues and those who followed Ammann became known as Amish Mennonites or just Amish.

Ann Jemima Allebach (1874 – 1918) was an American educator and suffragette. She became the first woman to be ordained as a Mennonite minister in North America on January 15, 1911. There was not another Mennonite woman ordained until 1973.

Allebach, c. 1916

In 2009, there were 1,616,126 Mennonites worldwide.  Most Mennonites are in the United States Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and India 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.

Germantown Mennonite Meetinghouse, built 1770

There are many different types of Mennonite communities in the world. There are those that dress in old-fashioned ways, and others who are indistinguishable in clothing and appearance from the general population.

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.

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