What Does It Mean to Be Mennonite? Amethyst Blankenship, April 2011
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In the beginning of this class I had no idea what the true meanings of the terms Anabaptist and Mennonite were. All I knew was that these people believed and acted out their faith differently than I do. From the few times that I went to a College Mennonite Church I discovered that the Pentecostal church and the Mennonite Church had very different ways of doing things, but I did not know why. So basically I attended a Mennonite college for a year and a half without even knowing what it meant to be Mennonite. But thanks to this class I have a basic understanding of the history of Mennonites. And that tradition has been one of sorrow and sadness in times, but it also represents hope and love.
Anabaptists/Mennonites are a people who have been persecuted because of their faith for almost their entire existence, yet they have persevered since their founding despite the odds of attempts by various governments. They were persecuted by the Catholic Church and government at the very beginning of the movement, and that trend has not ceased in the present day. They scattered all over the world in search of a land in which they could have religious freedom. However, most of the time they met opposition; such countries included Russia and Zimbabwe. Yet despite this opposition, they were strong and proud and happy to be called Mennonites. They continued to act and serve God in the way that they thought was correct, disregarding the ways of the world. And the Mennonite Church is growing today; there are Mennonite churches founded all over the world.
The Mennonite church of today is very impressive. One of their main goals, which I gathered from the readings, is to peacefully help those in need. They have many organizations constructed to help those in other countries who are suffering. They have huge hearts for the needy. Their actions and beliefs are visible in their daily life which is something to be admired in a society where corruption is running rampant. Even though I am not a pacifist, I now feel tremendous respect for a people who can hold true to that belief for such an extended period of time. The one disagreement that I have with the Mennonite beliefs is that they do not think that missions are a big deal. From my group discussion in class I have realized that Mennonites in the US do not think that missions are essential. They do not want to push their beliefs on others. I think there should be a balance. We do not have to push our beliefs on people, but we should get out there and share our good news.
Anabaptist/ Mennonite history is a great class to take if you do not know about the Mennonite origins and history. I have really benefited from the class. I think it should be a required class for the college. There are many students like me who did not know anything about the subject which is unfortunate. I now feel like I have a better understanding and appreciation for the Mennonite Church and beliefs.
- What can be done to inform students about Mennonite beliefs? Most students will not want to take a class.
- Do you think the Mennonite Church will continue to expand its church to the globe, or will it become stagnant as so many other churches have?
This essay was completed for an Anabaptist/Mennonite History class at Goshen College in April 1999.