What makes a Mennonite?
Mennonites have been around for almost 500 years. Early leaders rejected the state church’s control over peoples’ lives. Mennonite ideas and insistence on separation between church and state are equally important today, when some governments in the global community attempt to suppress the rights of individuals and non-conformist communities.
Today, you won’t recognize most Mennonites by how they dress. But you will find vibrant Mennonite congregations scattered throughout rural areas, small towns and large cities across Canada and throughout the world.
What We Believe
Mennonites believe in Jesus Christ as the One sent by God to bring reconciliation to a broken world and believe in the Bible as the central source of inspiration for faithful living. Mennonites share essential core beliefs with Christians of Catholic and Protestant communities. We emphasize the connections between faith, words and actions.
We believe baptism should be voluntary and should be accompanied by a lifestyle that reflects the teachings of Jesus. Inside each of us there is a yearning to understand why we are here. Mennonites believe the answer lies in both believing in and following Jesus, and that peace building is an achievable way of life. Mennonites seek to live out Jesus’ teachings by being active members of church communities who live out their beliefs in the community at large.
We believe that peace and wholeness are real possibilities. It’s how God intends us to live here and now. We use the tools God has given us and we strive for wholeness through our faith in Jesus Christ. Living as peace builders when war comes is not easy. Many in our society believe it is foolish to refuse to defend oneself and one’s country in the face of aggression.
Walking the Talk
Mennonites have become increasingly recognized as leaders in conflict resolution—even on an international scale. Mennonites have been involved in helping differing groups or factions talk to each other in places like East Africa, Northern Ireland, the Middle East and Latin America. Mennonites were also involved in some of the early developments in victim-offender reconciliation organizations in Canada and the United States and the protion of restorative justice as a way of responding to criminal and anti-social behaviour. One of the biggest challenges for Mennonites is speaking out about what we’ve learned along the way. Many are calling for Mennonites to speak more boldly; to talk the walk.
Thanks to Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre for permission to use the information on Mennonites, found in “What Makes a Mennonite” ©2008. The complete brochure can be found at mennonitechurch.ca