You may know Mennonites best as those people who drive horses and buggies and live off the grid. But most Mennonites don’t live that way. At TUMC, we’re pretty ordinary folks. You’ll find vibrant and growing Mennonite congregations everywhere, from small towns to major urban centres across North America and around the world.
Mennonites have been around for about 500 years, part of a Protestant Reformation movement called Anabaptism that rejected the allegiance between church and state, emphasized belief as a personal choice, and called for a radical way of living with peace, community and compassion, following the way of Jesus in daily life.
To learn more, watch this 4-minute video:
Here are some basics of Mennonite beliefs:
Mennonites believe in the centrality and inspiration of the Bible and in Jesus Christ as the One sent by God to bring reconciliation between the Creator and a broken world. We try to emphasize connections between faith, words and actions. We believe baptism and church membership should be voluntary and an adult decision. We emphasize community, peace and love, helping others and being a diverse, multicultural and welcoming church.
Mennonites believe peacebuilding is an achievable way of life. Because God is loving and just, Mennonites feel called to live lives that reflect this reality. We believe that peace and wholeness is a real possibility in time and space. It’s how God intends us to live here and now, and we have been given all the necessary tools to achieve this through our faith in Jesus Christ. Living as peacebuilders when war comes is not easy because many in our society believe it’s foolish to refuse to defend yourself and your country in the face of aggression. However, refusal to participate in violence and war goes back to the earliest beliefs of Christ’s followers, who were uniformly pacifist for the first 300 years.
Walking the talk. Mennonites have become recognized as leaders in the art of conflict resolution — including on an international scale. Mennonites have been involved in helping differing groups or factions talk to each other in East Africa, Northern Ireland and Central America. Mennonites were also involved in some of the early developments in offender-victim reconciliation organizations in Canada and the United States, and in promoting restorative justice as a way of responding to criminal and antisocial activity. Organizations such as Mennonite Central Committee, Christian Peacemaker Teams and Mennonite Disaster Service are channels where Mennonite volunteers work in relief, development, peacemaking and restoration around the world. Locally, TUMC works with victims of human trafficking, refugees and nursing home care, as well as activities aimed at reconciliation between Indigenous and settler peoples in Canada. 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.
Mennonites recognize the value of an organized religion. Throughout history, religious faith has helped people understand life’s meaning and encouraged cohesive social order. But at times the lines between church and state have blurred and the church has also been part of oppressive movements, suppression of individuals’ rights and even wars. Some even feel religion is the greatest cause of war. This is a familiar issue for Mennonites. And yet we recognize the need organize as a group of Christian believers. We try to trust that God’s Spirit will lead us to a way that reflects the life and teaching of Jesus. Inside each of us is a yearning to understand why we are here. Mennonites believe the answer lies in both believing in and following Jesus.
Mennonites are a global people. Once mostly of European heritage, Mennonites have become increasingly multicultural and multinational. The global Mennonite family now includes about 1.6 million members, with people of colour now the majority. We cherish our connections with vibrant churches around the world, with whom we connect through Mennonite World Conference. Our own congregation includes members born in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
We believe our emphasis on community is a positive response to the indifference of modern culture. In an era of mass marketing, uncontrolled consumerism, digital isolation, loneliness and violence, we work to create a community. You are more than welcome to join us. We are not a closed group. We believe the best response to cynicism, doubt and isolation is to invite both friends and strangers to share the burdens and joys of life together in Christ’s new community.
Adapted from an article by Ken Gingerich
You can learn more about Mennonite beliefs, values, culture and practices at these sites:
- Third Way Cafe
- Mennonite Church Canada
- Mennonite Church Eastern Canada
- Mennonite World Conference
- Mennonite Central Committee
- The Canadian Mennonite (national news magazine)
- The Quickest Ever DVD Guide to Mennonites and their Values (A funny, breathless 4-minute YouTube video produced by Mennonite Health Services)