Mennonites have their roots in the Reformation of sixteenth-century Europe. They are named after Menno Simons, a Roman Catholic priest who joined the Anabaptist wing of the Reformation. Hence Mennonites are often known as Anabaptist-Mennonites. The Anabaptists (literally, “re-baptizers”) differed from other reformers, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, in emphasizing adult baptism (making a choice to follow Christ), a radical separation of church and state, and the way of nonviolence (pacifism). For the Anabaptist-Mennonites, the community of faith, the church, is the primary interpreter of the Bible, and following the teachings of Jesus (discipleship) is the sign of a true Christian who has been saved by God’s grace.
Migrations and mission efforts have seen the Anabaptist-Mennonite faith spread around the world. In Canada today, there are about 123,000 Mennonites (baptized church members), and many more who claim the Mennonite heritage. The Mennonite World Conference now encompasses about 1.5 million members in 74 countries.
For further reading:
Anabaptist History and Theology: Revised Student Edition by Arnold Snyder (Kitchener: Pandora Press)
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective (Waterloo: Herald Press)
One Quilt Many Pieces: A Guide to Mennonite Groups in Canada by Margaret Loewen Reimer (Waterloo: Herald Press)