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Mennonite Genealogy in Switzerland, Pennsylvania & Ontario

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Mennonite Historical Overview

Menno Simons (ca 1496-1561) was a Dutch religious reformer. In 1536 he left the Roman Catholic priesthood because of his disagreement of infant baptism and other Catholic teachings. He organized and led the less aggressive division of Anabaptists in Germany and Holland. The name Mennonites is derived from his name, although he did not actually found the sect.

Anabaptists was the name given to certain Christian sects who believed that infant baptism is not authorized in Scripture, and that baptism should be administered only to believers. Prominent in Europe during the 16th century they were persecuted everywhere. Their chief leaders were Thomas Münzer and John of Leiden. Mennonites and Hutterites are descended from them.

The Mennonites were a Protestant sect which arose from Swiss ANABAPTISTS. They were also called Swiss Brethren. The group seceded in 1523 from the state church in Zürich Switzerland after rejecting its authority and infant baptism. They believed in nonresistance, refused to take oaths, and held the Bible as their sole rule of faith. Their distinctive beliefs were embodied in the Dordrecht Confession of Faith (1632). Mennonites have two sacraments, baptism (for adults only) and the Lord's Supper. The sect spread to Russia, France, and Holland. In America Mennonites first settled in 1683 at Germantown, PA. One of the most conservative divisions of the Mennonite Church is the Amish Church, which, under Jacob Ammann broke away in the late 17th century from the main body in Europe. The principal U.S. Amish groups are the Old Order Amish, who hold services in German and adhere to traditional customs (wearing plain clothing and shunning modern education and technology), and the Conservative Amish, who hold services in English as well as German and have adopted some innovations.

During the sixteenth century, the Mennonites and other Anabaptists were relentlessly persecuted. By the seventeenth century, some of them joined the state church in Switzerland and persuaded the authorities to relent in their attacks. The Mennonites outside the state church were divided on whether to remain in communion with their brothers within the state church, and this led to a split. Those against remaining in communion with them became known as the Amish, after their founder Jacob Amman. Those who remained in communion with them retained the name Mennonite

Be sure to join my Mennonite Mailing List on Rootsweb!

MENNONITE. A mailing list for anyone with a genealogical interest in the Swiss Mennonites (Anabaptists) who emigrated to North America.

To subscribe send "subscribe" to
mennonite-l-request@rootsweb.com (mail mode)
mennonite-d-request@rootsweb.com (digest mode).


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