Monday, July 22, 2013
ELMER - HOW THE MENNONITE AND AMISH RELIGIONS WERE FOUNDED
First, the Mennonites, like the Amish, are not all alike. Most of the Mennonites dress in modern clothes-like yours, drive modern cars-like yours, and live much like you in the world. These Mennonites still practice a non-resistance or pacifism, and refuse to participate in any form of violence. Another group is the Old Order Mennonites, made up of Jean, David, Martha, Joseph and thousands more. They dress plain, use horse and buggy, and live the life that Jean has told you about on here and Amish Stories. The third group of the Mennonites is the conservative group that dress like Jean and David, but drive cars and are open to a more modern technology and church programs, but still preserve a separated lifestyle.
Now that I have you confused, again, I will tell your how the Mennonite Religion was founded and then the Amish. Founding of the Mennonite religion goes back to the Protestant Reformation when a movement was started by Martin Luther, separating from the Catholic Church in 1517. Reformation groups throughout Europe felt that the Catholic Church did not meet the needs of the people or the standards of God. A small group of young adults had been meeting for Bible study and prayer at Zurich, Switzerland in 1525. Their beliefs were that adults should be baptized on confession of faith and that they should be separated from the ways of world and state and should not take part in any form of violence.They also felt that only truly converted Christians living holy, dedicated lives should be members. Because of these beliefs, they felt convicted to re-baptize each other. At that time, they were called Anabaptists.
Despite the persecution, torture, and martyrdom to them by both Catholics and Protestants, the Anabaptist religion grew. (The history of our persecution, torture and martyrdom are in a book: The Martyrs' Mirror. This book is in most Amish and Mennonite homes.) In Holland, a Catholic Priest named Menno Simons had been following the Anabaptists. In 1536 Simons joined the Anabaptists. He studied the Bible Scriptures, he also wrote and taught about community, helping others, support to widows and children, nonviolence, servant hood and peacemaking. Simons became a leader of the Anabaptists. Over the years, the Anabaptists have accepted the name Mennonites. When migration was started to North America by William Penn for religious freedom, Mennonites was one of the first to come.
Despite what some of the Amish, Mennonites and Englishers believe, shunning was not the only reason that the Amish separated from the Mennonites. There were differences among some of the Mennonites when in 1693, Jacob Ammann, a church leader, felt that not all the church leaders were following the strict separation from the world. They did not believe in the shunning, washing of feet, communion, not marrying outsiders, the way of dress and more. Ammann separated from the Anabaptist Mennonites and his followers were called Amish.
After migration to North America, the Mennonites now do many of the things that separated the Amish like washing of feet, communion, marrying only members of their church and more. Still there are differences. There is a lot more to the founding of both the Mennonite and Amish religions that I left out. but I wanted to keep this shorter. Also, some Mennonites and Amish have never forgotten the separation history. In some areas Mennonites and Amish keep separate, don't associate unless necessary. I am glad that the area we live in is not that way-although we have our religious differences, we are one with the Lord.
My next post will be on the differences of the Old Order Mennonites and Old Order Amish, today.
Trust God's Wisdom,