SEPTEMBER 6, 2014.
WHO ARE THE MENNONITES? Having seen quite a few Mennonite women in the area…everywhere from the check-out line at Walmart to walking in the woods, I realized I knew next to nothing about them or their religion. Here’s what I’ve learned. They are Christians, believing in the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are neither Catholic or Protestant, but they share ties to those streams of Christianity. They are known as “Anabaptists” (not anti-Baptists) meaning that they are “re-baptizers.” Adults are baptized. Children are not.
In Europe during the 16th century, their faith-ancestors broke away from the state religion’s practice of baptizing infants. They believed that only adults could make a decision to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized voluntarily. So they “re-baptized” as adults those whom the Church had already baptized as infants. It was considered a heresy to do so and many were persecuted and even killed for their actions and beliefs. Mennonites value a sense of family and community. It is not a closed group…all are welcome to join.
MENNONITES ARE NOT AMISH. Mennonites and Amish come from the same Anabaptist tradition begun in the 16th century, but there are differences in how they live their Christian values. The distinctiveness of the Amish is in their separation from the society around them. they generally shun modern technology and avoid political and secular involvement. Although the Mennonite women we’ve seen wear long dresses and cover their hair, many are not even distinctive in their dress. Most are quite modern in what technology they use, including cell phones and the internet. When we get to Pennsylvania and meet some Amish folks, I’ll learn a bit about that religion and embellish the differences.
INTERESTING AMERICANS. As I’ve stated many times on this blog, my Great American Adventure has as much to do with meeting people as it does with visiting places. I continue on my quest to meet interesting Americans. So far, I’m having lots of luck!