Pioneer Mennonite missionaries, Dhamtari, India (9019374328).jpg
Pioneer Mennonite missionaries, Dhamtari, India
Total population
Menno Simons
Regions with significant populations
North America672,000
Asia and Pacific420,000
Latin America and Caribbean270,000
The Bible
Known for commitment to pacifism and believer's baptism

The Mennonites are members of certain Christian groups belonging to the church communities of Anabaptist denominations named after Menno Simons (1496–1561) of Friesland. Through his writings, Simons articulated and formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders, with the early teachings of the Mennonites founded on the belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus, which the original Anabaptist followers held with great conviction, despite persecution by various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. An early set of Mennonite beliefs was codified in the Dordrecht Confession of Faith in 1632,[2] but the various groups do not hold to a common confession or creed.

Rather than fight, the majority of the early Mennonite followers survived by fleeing to neighboring states where ruling families were tolerant of their belief in believer's baptism. Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the historic peace churches, due to their commitment to pacifism.[3]

In contemporary 21st century society, Mennonites are described either only as a religious denomination with members of different ethnic origins,[4][5] 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.[6] Historians and sociologists have increasingly started to treat Mennonites as an ethno-religious group,[7] while others have begun to challenge that perception.[8] Discussion also exists as to 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 roughly 2.1 million Anabaptists worldwide as of 2015 (including Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites and many other Anabaptist groups formally part of the Mennonite World Conference).[1] 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. Mennonites can be found in communities in 87 countries on six continents.[9] The largest populations of Mennonites are found in Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, and the United States.[9] There are Mennonite colonies in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia,[10] Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay,[11] and Paraguay.[12] Today, fewer than 500 Mennonites remain in Ukraine.[13] A relatively small Mennonite presence, known as the Algemene Doopsgezinde Societeit, still continues in the Netherlands, where Simons was born.[14]

  1. ^ a b "Global Statistics – 2015 Directory; Mennonite World Conference". July 14, 2015. Archived from the original on August 29, 2016. Retrieved August 28, 2015.
  2. ^ Kraybill, Donald B. (September 12, 2017). Eastern Mennonite University. Penn State University Press. p. 94. ISBN 9780271080581.
  3. ^ "Historic Peace Churches". Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  4. ^ "Who are the Mennonites?". Third Way Cafe. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  5. ^ "Did you know..." Mennonite Historical Society of Canada. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  6. ^ "The Mennonite Game". Mennonite Historical Society of Canada. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  7. ^ "Multicultural Canada: Mennonites". Archived from the original on May 16, 2007. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  8. ^ "Ethnicity". Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  9. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference MWC stats was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  10. ^ "Bolivian Reforms Raise Anxiety on Mennonite Frontier". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  11. ^ "Aus Montevideo: Galizische Mennoniten in Uruguay" [Mennonites from Galitzia in Uruguay]. November 1, 2012. Archived from the original on August 1, 2012. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  12. ^ De La Cova, Antonio (December 28, 1999). "Paraguay's Mennonites resent 'fast buck' outsiders". Retrieved October 29, 2011.
  13. ^ Cite error: The named reference MWC-Ukraine was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  14. ^ "Member Churches – Mennonite Church in the Netherlands". World Council of Churches. World Council of Churches. Retrieved September 21, 2016.