Erb Mennonite Church - Are You Sure You're on the Right Road? - Matthew 7:13,14


Who are the Mennonites?

The Mennonites are a religious group adhering to the principles of the Anabaptist movement, which began in Europe during the Reformation. The Anabaptist movement started in the home of Felix Manz on the evening of January 21, 1525. That evening a group of about 15 young people met for a time of worship, Bible study and prayer. During the meeting a young man, George Blaurock, stood and boldly declared his conviction for baptism based upon repentance and thus asked one of the group leaders, Conrad Grebel, to baptize him. This request for baptism was a huge risk as the State Church had believed and performed only infant baptisms. Re-baptism was against the law. Before that gathering ended, each one of those young persons also requested water baptism. Conrad Grebel continued to lead this group in an attempt to recover New Testament Christianity, encouraging this growing movement to verbalize their faith in Jesus Christ.

Word of this reached Ulrich Zwingli, the most powerful leader and teacher of the Reformation. Zwingli held strong to the State Church belief of infant baptism and through numerous debates attempted to criticize and ridicule these re-baptizers. Zwingli believed all baptized infants were part of the Church. The Anabaptists on the other hand believed that faith in Christ was a voluntary decision, and baptism was only for those who repented of their sin and personally made a decision to follow Jesus. This opposing position to the State Church teaching on baptism placed the lives of Anabaptists in jeopardy. Thus the early Anabaptists were pursued, jailed, tortured, and many put to death as a result of this position. Many of these stories are recorded in the Martyrs Mirror.

The word ‘Mennonite’ emerged from an Anabaptist leader named Menno Simons. Menno, a Catholic priest, began to search the scriptures to better understand Communion and the teachings of Jesus. Through this study he became convicted and thus left the State Church in 1536, joining the emerging Anabaptist movement. He spent many years preaching and teaching small secret gatherings of Anabaptists in the Netherlands and putting into writing much of the Anabaptist theology. Menno Simons became the first Mennonite bishop and is most noted for his contribution to the Anabaptist peace position, that of non-resistance. Followers of Menno Simons became known as ‘Mennonites’, a part of the Anabaptist Community.

Mennonites Today

Currently there are over 1.6 million members world-wide. Mennonite beliefs and practices vary widely, but following Jesus in daily life remains at the core of our identity. The Bible is the foundation for our Christian faith and practice. Thus as a practical expression of our Christian discipleship we strive to promote peace, justice, separation of church and state, simplicity of life, stewardship, obedience, reconciliation, and to help alleviate the sufferings of the poor.

Erb Mennonite Church is a member congregation of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference which is a part of the Mennonite Church USA. The Conference has adopted the ‘Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective’as its statement of faith.

To learn more about the Mennonites, please visit Third Way Café.

To research information regarding Mennonite tradition and belief, please visit The Global Mennonite Encyclopedia.

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