The Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther sparked the formation of
radical "Anabaptists" branch of Christianity in the sixteenth century, many
eventually fled religious pressures and persecution in their countries of
resettled in the Americas, while others found relative safety in Russia.
many of the Russian Anabaptists sought refuge in the United States by the
Many of the later Anabaptist immigrants to America came from
and Germany, and they retained most of their cultures of origin, such as
dialects and cuisine. Many more communities or sects developed within the
Mennonite Anabaptists, totaling more than one million, in the Americas,
and in Europe, their land of origin.
Mennonites took their name from a converted Dutch priest by the name
Menno Simons (1496-1561) who provided Anabaptism with his leadership in
Century Holland. The appellation "Anabaptist" refers to their practice of
adult believers.(2) Subsequent philosophical differences led to the
stricter, more orthodox Mennonites living in Switzerland and Alsace into
"Amish", named for Jakob Ammann (1644-1725), in 1693.(3)
1. About Mennonites (2001) Mennonite.net: Accessed at:
2. The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions Bower, J.(1997) Oxford
The first groups of Amish migrating from Switzerland settled in
in the early 18th Century, and subsequently spread primarily to Ohio and
while also establishing a presence in twenty other states by the end of the
Century. The United States is home to more than two hundred distinct
Mennonites, comprising approximately 150,000 people, the vast majority of
still live in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Kansas.
The principle philosophical differences between the Mennonites and the
Amish sects of Anabaptism concern the relative strictness of practice,
the underlying Christian belief. Specifically, the Amish practice strict
exclusivity, while the Menn...