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THE MENNONITE LIFESTYLE

History and Origins:


The Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther sparked the formation of
a

radical "Anabaptists" branch of Christianity in the sixteenth century, many
of whom

eventually fled religious pressures and persecution in their countries of
origin. Some

resettled in the Americas, while others found relative safety in Russia.
Ultimately,

many of the Russian Anabaptists sought refuge in the United States by the
end of

World War I, too.(1)


Many of the later Anabaptist immigrants to America came from
Switzerland

and Germany, and they retained most of their cultures of origin, such as
their German

dialects and cuisine. Many more communities or sects developed within the

Mennonite Anabaptists, totaling more than one million, in the Americas,
Africa, Asia,

and in Europe, their land of origin.


Mennonites took their name from a converted Dutch priest by the name
of

Menno Simons (1496-1561) who provided Anabaptism with his leadership in
16th

Century Holland. The appellation "Anabaptist" refers to their practice of
rebaptizing

adult believers.(2) Subsequent philosophical differences led to the
splintering off of

stricter, more orthodox Mennonites living in Switzerland and Alsace into
the

"Amish", named for Jakob Ammann (1644-1725), in 1693.(3)



1. About Mennonites (2001) Mennonite.net: Accessed at:
http://history.mennonite.net/

2. The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions Bower, J.(1997) Oxford
University Press.

3. ibid




The first groups of Amish migrating from Switzerland settled in
Pennsylvania

in the early 18th Century, and subsequently spread primarily to Ohio and
Indiana,

while also establishing a presence in twenty other states by the end of the
20th

Century. The United States is home to more than two hundred distinct
groups of

Mennonites, comprising approximately 150,000 peopl...

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