Locust Lane Chapel
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
- Doing in Our Day what Jesus did in His
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Who are Mennonites?

Mennonites are a Christian faith group that began in the 16th century and descended from the Anabaptist stream of the Protestant Reformation.  Anabaptists represent a stream of faith that emerged 500 years ago in Europe. At about the time Reformers were challenging the Catholic Church, a small group of people in Switzerland were studying the Bible. They came to the conclusion that Jesus meant what he said in the Sermon on the Mount. As a result they emphasized the practice of non-violence and the belief that the church should be a voluntary community. Prior to this, church participation was not a voluntary thing. You were born into it. And baptism was used to create a citizen for tax purposes; it wasn’t just religious.

The Anabaptists got into trouble with this behavior. They stopped baptizing infants which angered the state, and they re-baptized adults which angered the Catholic Church (that’s how they got there name. “Ana-” means “again,” so the name “Anabaptist” means to baptize again). Both the Catholics and the Reformers began arresting, drowning, and burning Anabaptists at the stake for their religious and civil crimes. Because the Anabaptists practiced non-violence, they refused to fight back and instead withdrew from city centers for survival. It was a painful beginning, and they remained distant from mainstream society for several generations.

Early on, a Catholic priest named Menno Simons became one of the leading Anabaptists. He was kicked out of the Catholic Church and his followers became known as the Mennonites.

In the last fifty or sixty years, most Mennonites have become fully integrated into society, but they still retain many of the distinct practices of Anabaptism. Specifically, there is a strong emphasis on community, the Bible as authoritative, Jesus as the center, service to the world, peacemaking, and the pursuit of justice. This is what happens when you try to follow Jesus as expressed in the “Sermon on the Mount” and the Gospels.
 
For a more detailed, yet user-friendly, description of Mennonite history, read this description from "Third-Way Cafe".