I’m Mennonite, Not Amish: 7 Common Questions

For those of you who are Mennonite, you have likely been asked at some point, when sharing about your faith tradition, whether or not you are Amish. And if you happen to have a sort of nebulous Swiss-German-Western-European look like myself, you probably get asked this question fairly often. I usually don’t mind when people ask me this question because: 1) My grandpa was actually Amish and left the church, so I’m not that far removed, and it gives me the chance to tell a family story ; 2) It shows me that people are interested in my faith tradition and it gives me a chance to explain a bit more about who Mennonites are and what I believe; and 3) I really like and respect the Amish.

Living in California over the last few years, I have had many opportunities to perfect my “elevator speech” about the relationship between Mennonites and Amish. So, when this question comes up in casual conversation, I usually give a short answer that goes something like this:

The Mennonites and the Amish do share a common Anabaptist lineage, but today we are actually two distinct Christian groups. The Amish still cultivate a very intentional counter-cultural lifestyle: still relying on alternative forms of transportation, very tied to rural areas and agriculture, and dressing in cape dresses and plain clothes. Mennonites do share some beliefs with the Amish: a commitment to nonviolence and a desire to live simply (although this gets expressed in very different ways), but today, Mennonite Church USA (the group that I am a part of) might have more in common with Quakers, Brethren or other historic peace churches. (For a longer description, visit Third Way Cafe).

Sometimes this is enough to assuage people’s curiosity, but there are often follow-up questions and a good discussion ensues. But over the course of the last few years, living outside Los Angeles and traveling around the United States a bit more, I have encountered some pretty hilarious questions about my religious identity as a Mennonite.

So, without further ado, here are variations on 7 common questions I’ve encountered and the responses I have often offered:

1. So you’re Mennonite and married? Does your husband have a really large beard?

Sadly, no. I think Justin would fail at being a good Amish man, because, despite many attempts, he has been unable to produce a respectable goatee, let alone a full-blown beard.

2. A question posed at a restaurant, while enjoying a glass of wine. So, you must be in the midst of those “wild years” (rumspringa)?

Nope. Unlike the Amish, Mennonites don’t really stick to any beliefs about a “free period” during adolescence when you can just “go wild” before committing to the church. So, depending on who you ask, I’ve either always been a pretty responsible Mennonite or my choice to drink wine means that I’m living in a perpetual state of heresy.

3. I love Beverly Lewis’ book, The Shunning. Has your church shunned you for dressing like that?

Nope. Mennonites don’t practice plain dress, and aren’t too prone to shunning (and actually, many Amish communities practice the “ban” very infrequently, too). Although what does the fact that you are asking this question say about your thoughts on my clothing choices?

4. So you are a grad student studying at Claremont, right? Is it hard to read process theology by lamplight?

OK friends, let’s be honest here, it’s sort of hard to read process theology by any light, but don’t worry. Mennonites are all about the electricity, although one would hope that we have developed our ecological sensibilities far enough to use it responsibly.

5. Where do you park your buggy in Los Angeles?

Alright people. There is a reason that many Amish communities are located in rural areas, and that they rent vans with drivers when they travel to urban areas. No one in their right mind would take a buggy on the I-10 freeway with all that traffic, and, as a Mennonite, my little Hyundai Elantra works just fine and is also doctrinally acceptable.

6. So you pretty much have to be born into a Mennonite group, right? Or do you allow converts?

No worries here! Everyone who wants to can be a Mennonite. Yay! In fact, although it is less common, some individuals have been able to join Amish communities, too. But like many other Christian groups, the Mennonite church welcomes new members who have found an affinity for our particular brand of Christian beliefs and who wish to follow Jesus in community with other believers, are welcome to join.

7. Do you churn your own butter and raise all of your own food?

Urg, I wish. Actually, Mennonites are historically agricultural people too (although we are becoming increasingly urban), and do have a history of simple living, eating off the land, and being locavore eaters. I did dutifully buy my own copy of the Saving the Seasons:How to Can, Freeze or Dry Almost Anything cookbook, and Justin and I have always aspired to be gardening and canning machines, who makes their own homemade pickles and jam. But alas, we have yet to find space in our small apartment for a butter church and a local cow to buy milk from, and our attempts at patio gardening have been flops (despite producing one surprisingly robust crop of basil).

So, if you are a Mennonite, what interesting questions have you been asked about your identity? And if you’re not, what questions do you have? Any question is fair game!

198 Comments

Filed under Mennonite Identity

  • Melissa Jantz

    Hannah, I’m loving this blog! And I especially love this post. I have had so many of these questions before, especially when I worked as a waitress at The Amish Barn summers between Goshen College. I used the opportunity to give some Mennonite history lessons and think maybe was tipped better because of it.

    I’ve thought of these questions, too, in the context of the book Mennonite in a Little Black Dress which yes, was hilarious but also frustrated me because the author portrayed herself as Mennonite when she was actually Brethren, and she acted like she was the official spokewoman on Mennonites when in fact she is not. I love how you show the complexities and how someone would view drinking a glass of wine, for example, as heresy or a personal choice. Do you consider coverings and wearing dresses plain dress? I know not many choose that, but I still have cousins who would dress “plain,” as in Mennonite plain, not Amish plain. See–it gets confusing even for those of us who grew up Mennonite!

    • Hannah Heinzekehr

      Hey Melissa – Thanks for reading the blog! It has been an interesting exercise for me to think about writing “publicly” in this way. And I agree with you about “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress.” I had many of the same reactions! I think she actually capitalized on a lot of the confusion/curiosity that is out there surrounding Mennonite identity and that some of these questions that I mentioned point to. And yes, you are so right about the confusions with dress: I have relatives who are Beachey Amish, Conservative Mennonite, Old Order, etc. and I frankly could not even begin to tell you accurately about the differences in lifestyle expectations among those different groups.

    • http://mycropht.wordpress.com Katherine Coble

      Wow! I thought I was the only one a bit annoyed by _Mennonite In A Little Black Dress_. I feel comforted knowing I’m not alone.

    • Kristen

      So I have a few questions…. 1. So Mennonites aren’t too far off from English people? Only difference is between “some” English is that you’re Christians and believe strongly in your faith?

      Second question I have been doing a lot of family history on ancestry.com and ALL my family are from Lancaster and Cambria county Johnstown Pennsylvania. (German background) Lots of family first names are Elijah,Maria,Ruth,Jacob, Hessakiah, Gabriel, Abraham act. Is there a way to tell if I had Mennonite or Amish ancestors?

      Only thing I’ve found so far on Ancestry.com is where they’re from in Pennsylvania and most of them worked on dairy farms, had rye and buckwheat farms.

      If you know a way to find this out it would be appreciated.
      Thanks
      1700′s-1930′s is the family history I have
      Last names Dormeyer,Dunmire, Altemus

    • Laura

      Question I would like to be a penpal with a Mennonite person how can I find someone to be a penpal with?

      • Tamara

        Laura are you still looking?

        • Gabrielle

          Tamara, I recently started looking, if you know of some one I might be a penpal with. =)

      • daisy

        i too would like to sign up for a Mennonite or Amish penpal. My ignorance to this culture saddens me.

        • Dixie

          I grew up in a conservative Mennonite home and was baptized into the church when I was 18. I left the church when I was an adult and I believe that I can answer your questions impartially. If you have not found someone who is able to give you the information you are looking for feel free to contact me.

  • Pamela Dintaman

    I bumped into your blog yesterday for the first time and totally enjoyed reading what young adult Mennonite women are thinking and writing. One of my favorite Mennonite questions from my past: I was traveling on a commercial airliner for my work with what-was-then-called Mennonite Board of Missions. When my seatmate learned I was Mennonite he said, “Should you be flying?”

    I’m a Mennonite pastor–now hospice chaplain–living in the Sonoran desert in rural Arizona, sorting through my theology again… Pamela

    • Hannah Heinzekehr

      Ha! Love it! I travel a lot for work, too, and it’s always interesting to see people’s responses when they ask me what kind of work I do and I tell them I work for the Mennonite church.

      Thanks for reading the blog and for commenting. If ever you find yourself wanting to reflect on your theological journey in the desert (that sounds very monastic!) in a more public venue, let me know. I’d love to continue to broaden the conversation that’s happening here to be more intergenerational.

      • Pamela Dintaman

        Thanks Hannah for providing a place for people to converse in this way. After reading some of the entries, I started playing with the idea of writing some personal reflections. Might take me awhile ’cause I live a slow pace these days. I identified something recently–a silent message from my Mennonite background that says: IF you vary too much from what you’re taught, be the “quiet in the land” and just go away. Nobody ever said that aloud, and it’s a strange distortion on ‘the quiet in the land,’ but it was helpful to realize that the message occasionally lurks some place within me.

    • Bill Coffman

      How can a woman be a Mennonite pastor? That does not follow the precepts of the Bible? I came from a long line of Mennonite pastors dating back to Switzerland. We were the last ones to leave southwest Missouri for the Midwest. I commend you for your devotion to the Lord! So much has changed over the years I guess that’s why I am now an independent Baptist!

      • Joyce Bixler

        The Bible mentions a number women leaders of the Church.

        • BIll COFFMAN

          Show me where!?

          • Jeff

            I’m sorry you don’t have access to a Bible to look for yourself, Bill. I’ll point out to you some female leaders in the Bible. Deborah, in the Book of Judges 4-5. Also Micah 6:4 identifies Miriam as helping lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Huldah, who the King Josiah especially chose to authorize and document long lost Scripture that became the core of Scripture. There were also several other prophetesses mentioned in the Bible. Esther is another OT example. Junia is a New Testament example in Romans 16:7, where she is identified as an apostle, and Phoebe and Priscilla are two other female leaders, (Phoebe a deaconess and Priscilla an evangelist).

          • Bill Coffman

            I think Jeff that you had better read your Bible a little closer. There is a big difference when women of note are mentioned but none are mentioned as having leadership in the church. Paul’s words are not the words of the Lord but only describing women supporting the men in leadership positions. But then again that is your interpretation and if you are happy with that then I’m happy for you.

          • Jeff

            Bill, that you even admit your own understanding of the Paul colors your how you interpret Scripture means that there is solid biblical evidence for a view opposing your own. Perhaps that’s why you refuted my examples without providing any biblical examples of your own. Well let me help this argument along. I think you are cherry-picking a couple Scriptures from Paul and splitting hairs between defining a “teacher” and a “leader”. Had you considered that Paul’s teachings in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy (verses you did not cite but are alluding to) might have been culturally, rather than biblically, based (and thus now moot)? Or that Paul himself proclaims equality of all (Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female) before God in Galatians 3:28? Or that some of the aforementioned female leaders in the bible likely led, directed, and taught men? Of course you have. If you were really concerned about learning on the topic, you probably would have google searched it and found some wonderful resources filled with solid exegetical interpretation. But you haven’t come here to learn or seek understanding. You’ve come to troll. This website was not created for comments like yours. I’m sure there are plenty of other people on the internet who agree with you. So find another site to spew your misogynistic judgement.

          • John

            I am in process of converting from protestant to Conservative Mennonite I do this because of my good wife insistance and only after careful study and comparison of their ways to the bible. Here is some of my learning which I gladly share bolstered by a renewed understanding of the bible and God’s spririt. A good example of woman leadership would be Deborah who was a Judge. She was bought forth in a leadership role in a time when the men of Israel refused to fill their leadership role, such as Barak who as captain of the army refused refused to go into battle without she went by his side. Thank God there was a woman willing to stand up and be strong when the men of God refused. Deborah even warned Barak that he would not battle for his glorification because through his fear and weakness God would have to deliver Sisera into the hand of a woman; she was a prophetess and Judge yet understood the dishonor Israel brought itself by forcing God to put a woman over them, not because woman is inferior but because God has a order he established so in honor to God she remained humble. The order is God, Jesus, Man, Woman, the creatures and plants, and finally the earth; this is holy and necessary to the Lord and he sealed it when woman was deceived by the serpent. However, the new testament forbids women from teaching or usurping authority in the church outside they are equal excepting their submission to their husband as is pleasing to the Lord. Rules for church worship ESV 1Timothy 2:11-15 “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; rather she is to remain quiet. For Adam was not deceived,but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in faith love and holiness, with self control.” 1Corinthians 14:34-36 “As in all the churches of the saints, the woman should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?” Another example of God’s order is found in 1Corinthians also chapter 11:1-16 “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head-it is the same as if her head where shaven.For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is a disgrace for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.For a man ought not to cover his head since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For a man was not made from woman but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman, for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the Churches of God.” What I see and feel led as is right; God has a natural order and he calls woman to honor it as a form of worship honoring him and being humble in obedience to his natural order he developed. It is not for mans benefit that woman is to silent or covered, no the Lord requires obedience and humility for woman being humble, silent in church, covering her head as symbol of her respect to God’s order is the most pleasing form of worship to God for not to is to show arrogance to and against God’s order and plan. Also for man not to have strength and courage in him, humility, love especially for his wife and God, and humble servitude to God is also to show arrogance to and against God’s order and plan search your hearts and judge what is right.

  • stephanie

    When my friends find out I attend a Mennonite church, they often ask if I wear a head covering (over my dreads :) and if the men & women sit on opposite sides of the sanctuary. I realize there are still Mennonite churches who practice these traditions but it brings a smile thinking they are envisioning me in that way.

    • Hannah Heinzekehr

      I love this! Sometimes the “cognitive dissonance” that these questions raises is just hilarious. I would think that people would realize, just by looking at me, that something about me is different from the Amish, but maybe they think I rock a different “Sunday style” or something.

    • Marina

      For your info: Actually, men and women in Greek Orthodox church and Coptic Orthodox church still sit on opposite sides of the sanctuary (but the tradition is not very strict – if a woman sit with the men noone will tell her to go away!). Moreover, the women in Coptic Orthodox Church wear head covering to receive the communion. So, while Mennonite and Amish churches are famous or expected to be traditional, there are many more other churches who are very traditional as well .

      • Nike M.

        Actually, that may be true in some Greek Orthodox churches, but not all. I have been a member of 3 Greek Orthodox parishes, and a member of one Antiochian Orthodox parish and my godparents helped to start the local Coptic parish. In the Greek Orthodox church, most families sit together and a woman’s hair is considered her head covering. Usually only the older women still wear the head coverings. The general exception would be for a funeral where you are more likely to see black scarves and black hats.
        The Coptic church, is not currently in communion with the Greek Orthodox church and hasn’t been since the church council in 451AD and it still follows the Jewish tradition of separate sides for men and women and women still wear head coverings. You might find women in the Serbian, Ukrainian, Russian, Antiochian churches also choosing to cover their hair, but this tradition is not very prevalent, in the United States, though in their original countries you might find it more frequently. I did not see any women in the Russian Orthodox churches I visited in Japan cover their hair, however, we did all remove our shoes and leave them outside the sanctuary and there were only a few pews which were reserved for the old and invalid and we all stood, knelt, genuflected and sat Japanese style. Each church will have different traditions based on the ethnic cultural style of the body that makes up the parish. We all share the same Traditions-important theological beliefs, but sometimes the way in which we express those may be different which is where the traditions with the little “t” come in to play. That is why you will see beautiful red eggs at Pascha/Easter in Greek churches and beautifully decorated black eggs in a Russian church church. When I grew up in the Roman Catholic church, ever woman covered her hair when attending church, however, that is no longer practiced in most Roman Catholic Churches.

      • Kathryn

        Just an little interjection here. In the bible it says that ” . . . a woman’s hair is her glory.” We don’t need to cover our heads but that is also why the men of the Jewish faith do cover their heads out of respect when they enter into a synagog and on special Holy Days and the women don’t..

        • James smythe

          Kathryn, I really wish you had a better grip on this subject. The entire line is: 1 Corinthians 11:15 – But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for [her] hair is given her for a covering. Why would you intentionally try to mislead. Plus you apparently have no clue about the Jewish faith.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erabrand Erin Ashley

    But, Hannah, you’ve neglected to mention that “Mennonite” means different things to different people. In Old Order and Conservative Mennonite traditions, things are different. Even within the Mennonite Church USA, there’s a huge spectrum of experiences and beliefs.

    One of my favorite things to think about when it comes to Anabaptist history is that the Amish split from the Mennonites, rather than the other way around.

    Additionally, my background on my Dad’s side is overwhelmingly Amish. I actually have a lot of issues with the Amish community, which might seem ideal from the perspective of those of us living hectic lives in the “English” world, but as I understand it, lends itself to being a rigid culture of oppression and abuse.

    • Hannah Heinzekehr

      Erin – You are so right. I figured that might add too much complexity for one blog, but there are certainly Mennonites who would think of themselves very, very differently from the way that I have described myself above. And, just like any religious community, I think you’re right that the Amish have variations and there are some places where the level of control and rigidity that is exercised is not great. I also think there hasn’t been much work done on examining the roles of Amish women, but again, that’s a whole other post….

  • Nancy

    If I had a dime for every time I’ve been asked that question…! I was born Amish, raised Beachy Amish (or Amish Mennonite), married a Mennonite-raised man, and now consider myself borderline agnostic. I certainly have more questions than answers. Maybe I should write a book.

    • Hannah Heinzekehr

      You should! I bet it would sell. :)

  • http://mycropht.wordpress.com Katherine Coble

    My comment wasn’t that enlightening and it’s probably okay it ended up on the wrong post.

    But these comments are making me realise how much I regret the loss of cultural identity happening in so many Mennonite fellowships.

    I grew up in what used to be called the Evangelical Mennonite Church. It separated from the General Conference Mennonites because they had some differences of opinion. Now they changed their name entirely–Fellowship If Evangelical Churches, I think–because they were trying to distance themselves from these misconceptions.

    Other Mennonite churches are dropping the M word too. It makes me incredibly sad.

    • http://peaceandquietlife.wordpress.com peaceandquietlife

      That is exactly like the church I grew up in. When my family started attending in the early 90′s they had already changed the name. I had a great experience there and I now identify with the Mennonite ideology more than any others (the church was non-denominational so I have inherited a little difficulty myself committing to one group). A possible negative, though, is that the church has no roots, no connection to their history, and it has now completely changed, to the extent that I no longer identify with the practices.

      • Hannah Heinzekehr

        I think you are both right. A lot of churches are wrestling with this, and don’t always think through what it means to take a name off a sign. Sometimes I think people believe that it will make their church more attractive to others, but they don’t realize what else might be lost with the process and/or they don’t change anything about the community inside the building that would make it more welcoming to others, so the move might not accomplish its stated goal anyway.

        • Kathryn

          This is a very interesting conversation. While it is true that “nothing ever stays the same”, our Lord Jesus does. We are told in the Bible that that He moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.” However, the same may be said of Satin and his demons. They move in our world in way that may seem mysterious to us but their motives are exactly the opposite of those of our Lord’s. The get their claws into us in many ways and one of them is to make us think that change is good, but I would rather do and the Lord teaches and “be in the world and not of the world.” Sometimes change is good but when it takes a really good, precious thing and makes it into something unrecognizable then that IS NOT GOOD.

  • Carl Friesen

    I found this to be quite interesting. I grew up Mennonite in Elkhart Co. Indiana, and I didn’t face this question until I went to grad school in Kentucky. When I got there, there weren’t any Mennonite churches, and people I talked to thought I ment Amish when talking about mennonites. I still consider myself Mennonite even though I haven’t attended a mennonite church since the 90′s.

  • http://lis-li.blogspot.com Lisa Yoder

    I usually try to explain Anabaptism as a spectrum to people who ask. I remember once in college, someone thought I was joking when I told them I was Mennonite and started laughing at me. I grew up in Central PA in a church in the Conservative Conference. I went to public school and dress mainstream, but many of my second cousins on both sides are still Amish-Mennonite. Once, after moving to the suburbs (ew) of Philadelphia, someone asked me how my parents felt about me “leaving the faith.” I had to explain that I hadn’t left anything! I do attend a nondenominational church, but that doesn’t mean I don’t identify as Mennonite, and I certainly didn’t leave the faith.

    • http://suzyjacobsoncherry.blogspot.com/ Suzy Cherry (@Suzy_Cherry)

      I’m not a Mennonite, but I do know Hannah from seminary. I love this blog, and read it whenever I can. I graduated from high school in central Pennsylvania, and wondered where you grew up, Lisa. It’s pure curiosity.

  • http://itsminglen.wordpress.com ItsMinGlen

    Great post. I never get those questions.

    • Hannah Heinzekehr

      Ha! Glen, that is probably true. I wonder though: what confusing questions do people ask you when you tell them you are Mennonite? Are they about pacifism?

  • Jake Short

    Did you ever have to explain who Mennonites are while in Northern Ireland? I know I had to, and that was interesting, checking to see if people know who the Amish are, and then saying we’re kind of a cross between Amish and Quakers, since those would be the groups they know the best. Also, it was fun to ride the DC Metro with four Amish and have people wondering what on earth was happening.

    But I agree with some of the comments above; the term “Mennonite” can encompass many things, are generalizing can be helpful sometimes, but it can be just as problematic. Knowing I have roots and relatives in the Amish communities, Amish Mennonite Church, “Old” Mennonite Church, the former Evangelical Mennonite Church (now Fellowship of Evangelical Churches), Reformed Mennonite Church, and probably in other splinter Anabaptist groups, it gets complicated really quickly. Listing all the various Anabaptist groups to mainstream MCUSA people can get confusing enough; explaining the differences sometimes makes people even more confused than before you started.

    Not to mention, the problems of confusion for “Mennonite vs. Amish” seem to occur really only for white Mennonites. I’m certain Latino, black, Asian, Native American/First Nations, and any other ethnic/racial groups of Mennonites don’t have to worry about being confused with Amish, or just make the confusion all the worst for those who don’t know the difference. (But maybe I’m wrong, so someone please correct me if this is the case.)

    • Hannah Heinzekehr

      You know, Jake, we had a few conversations about that. I had my internship at Corrymeela, where they actually kind of new and liked Mennonites because of a legacy of peace workers who had been located in Belfast. And you are right: any time we talk about these identities, we inevitably simplify. Helping people to understand the complexities of the Anabaptist narrative is important, but I have not yet figured out the best way to get that across in clear cut ways in a short conversation. Any advice you have would be much appreciated!

      And as Glen and Sue’s posts prove, you are definitely right about this being a European Mennonite “problem,” but I bet there is a whole other set of questions that get asked of other Mennonites, too!

    • Andrea

      Sorry to interrupt, I just do not know: Is it possible for a black person to convert to amish (not mennonite) faith?

      • Tabitha

        Yes, it is

    • Peter Hawley

      Please, brothers & sisters in Christ, focus on JESUS! The only reason our fellow humans should be curious about our faith, is our behavior, NOT the way we dress, facial hair, means of transportation, the church we attend, etc. God looks upon your heart (soul) and cares nothing about all our silly attempts to “look” or live a certain way in order to be “different”. Trust JESUS & share him with all.

  • Sue

    I am on the same boat with Glen :)

    • Hannah Heinzekehr

      Sue, I would ask you the same question that I posed to Glen. What are the other questions that people ask you when you sahre about being a part of the Mennonite church? Do they have any assumptions?

  • Kate

    Hi – Love your blog! I am not Mennonite but am very intrigued. I live in CT and we actually have a very large community in the next town over of persons of Swiss extraction who attend the “Swiss Church” (Apostolic). They dress and act like other children until they are about 16 and then have to choose whether or not to join the church. If they do – the women spend the rest of their lives in calf length denim skirts and wear a small lacey bit of fabric on their pinned up hair. This group never seems to get mentioned in any Mennonite publications or maps but they do exist and have a very large and dedicated membership. It makes me sad when I see people that I was friends with in our younger days who practiced this lifestyle and are now middle aged and rocking tattoos and beers. I feel like they had something beautiful that they have turned their backs on.

    • Hannah Heinzekehr

      Hi Kate – I’m glad you’ve found the blog! I am not very familiar with the “Swiss Church.” I’m wondering if they are from a non-Anabaptist lineage, but it seems like they may have some similarities in dress and practice to Old Order or Conservative Mennonites. Identity with these groups can be an interesting thing. I think for some, it can feel highly restrictive and limiting, but I also think it’s ususally harder to simply “replace” our faith traditions once we leave them than we really think.

      • Gina

        Like Kate, I am not Mennonite, either. However, we do have some Amish and Mennonite communities in WI, and I was always drawn to them. Maybe (as far as the Amish) bc I loved horses ;) Anyway, glad of your blog. I was raised a fundamentalist Christian, but always had major questions, and was not satisfied by pat answers. At this stage in life, I no longer believe in the Bible as literal word of God, and I consider it to be quite fallible, yet divinely inspired with many treasures inside. While I don’t believe I could believe in the same religious dogma as Amish, Mennonites, or Quakers, I admire so much about the lifestyle. The valuing of peace and family, etc, over the idiotic things our “English” culture values…I met a few Amish while working for the Red Cross bc they often donate blood…and infallibly, these were very kind, sweet people…and a good source for organic goods :) I admire the simple life as well. I wish I could be part of a community like that and learn how to live that way and to love properly, but I don’t think I could ever embrace the religion aspect. I am so happy to hear that shunning is rare; what a horrible thing! Especially for people to whom family is darn near everything. I even like the simple dress…I don’t think I could do it…I like variety…but I love the propriety and the equality inherent in it. So I guess I’m rambling. One final thing, we have people in our area that are similar to those Kate described, yet with some differences. Those here are called “Pentecostals” and they wear long skirts (even in the freezing cold!!) of any fabric, and they must never cut their hair. They do not have a head covering, and they live amongst the general population. We also have people of the Apostolic faith (and of course many other faiths), but our Apostolics do not dress differently from the main population.

        • Mackenzie

          You’d probably fit in well with Hicksite Quakers. We believe the Bible is divinely inspired, but the humans who write it were fallible, as are the humans who came up with traditional interpretations. We don’t usually dress funny (you’ll find a few scattered around…I think two traditionally Plain Quaker men live in the DC area), and we are often in cities. I’m a computer security programmer. We don’t have much dogma (we don’t believe reciting a creed is necessary), most of our dogma can be summed up in the words of Quakerism’s founder (George Fox) “Christ has come to teach his people himself,” meaning that we all have the Holy Spirit in us to consult with and help us interpret the Bible in the same spirit it was inspired.

          The major difference over which the various branches of Quakerism split is on whether the Bible or the inward promptings of the Holy Spirit wins.

        • Lise Juliette

          Hi Gina. I would like to refer you to a book entitled The Bible Code. It is fascinating how a group of highly respected jewish mathematicians have found detailed historic and current events clearly laid out in code within the Bible. Furthermore, when attempts were made to determine future events, nothing could be absolutely determined as the variable of choice was still a factor. It gave me a new found respect for believing that the Bible is indeed alive and as current today as when it was penned.

    • Carla Hannemann

      This Swiss church sounds exactly like the “Apostolic Christian Church” found in Indiana and Illinois. We lived in a small town on Hwy 24 in central Illinois and the AC church was the largest church in town. The women wore the little oval lace piece on their heads. When you decided to join the church, you had to go around and confess your sins to those you sinned against. I think the parents of an AC boy arranged a marriage for him with someone from Conn. Along US Hwy. 24, you will find lots of large AC churches in the little towns. Years ago they couldn’t have TV’s, but I don’t know what they allow now. They always had nice cars, homes and churches.

      • http://www.facebook.com/esther.clark.33 esther clark

        the apostolic Christian woman in my community, Portland OR and Vancouver WA, oddly all wear their wear their hair long but very tall in front in sort of a weird bun thing and then 1980′s mall bangs. Very odd, cannot imagine a religious teaching that requires that sort of hairdo.

        I am not a Mennonite but grew up in the Shenandoah valley with lots and lots of Mennonite influence on the culture around me. I’ve been told that the reason Mennonite in a Black Dress seemed not to ring true was the author’s back ground was Russian and not German so the culture was different than the German background Mennonite culture I’m familiar with.

    • Jeff

      Kate, I think the group you’re talking about is called Apostolic Christian Church, began in the 19th Century by a Swiss guy named Samuel Froehlich. You can read more about them here: http://www.apostolicchristian.org

  • Kate

    Hi Hannah – I think there could be quite a story there – the church was founded in that town in the 1880′s – http://www.apostolicchristian.org/faith_lifestyle.php – it’s like a little pocket of PA but in CT.

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  • Hillary

    Hi, I am thinking about becoming a Mennonite, would it be hard for me to do coming from living in the “real world”

    • admin

      Hi Hillary – I think you must be talking about becoming a “conservative Mennonite” or an Amish person. If you are interested in joining my denomination, Mennonite Church USA, there is not much outwardly that you would need to change. You could still dress the same, use electronics, etc. Of course, you would want to be sure that you believed in the things we espouse- faith in Jesus Christ, nonviolence, etc. – but it wouldn’t require any disengagement from the “real world.”

      I can’t really speak about what it would be like to join the Amish or conservative Mennonites, since I don’t have much experience with that. Sorry!

  • Kristine

    Hello Hannah,
    I absolutely love the humor in your blog. I accidentally ran into the new “Breaking Amish” show on TLC and had to look up information on Mennonites and Amish, and had some major questions on the reality of this newest “reality” show. I am curious to know if Mennonites regularly attend public school. I also was curious to know if you’d seen this new show on TLC. Did these kids stories sound real to you? Thanks for your time.

    • admin

      Hi Kristine – You know, I have been seeing previews for this show, but I have not sat down to watch it. In fact, I have to admit that I was a bit saddened when I saw the preview, because my guess is that the show will play up everything that is most “different” or everything that might seem strange about Amish culture, in order to provide a television experience with the most drama. In addition, it seems that a show like this is so exploitative and goes against everything that the Amish stand for: simple living, an avoidance of the spotlight or any publicity, etc. That said, I have not watched the show, so I can’t speak to whether it is an authentic representation or not. I have no doubt that there are Amish (and conservative Mennonite – as one of the young women on that show is) young adults who have undertaken a journey away from their faith communities in a similar way that the show portrays.

      As far as your question, it really depends which group of Mennonites you are talking about. I am a part of Mennonite Church USA, a denomination which really functions quite “normally’ in the world. So the majority of people from my faith tradition would attend public school (although we do have private, Christian schools, but they function very similarly to any other private or charter school), would dress normally, etc. We also attend college, graduate school, etc. at very high rates. There are groups of conservative Mennonites who may have a different take on this, but that’s the truth for my denomination. Thanks for reading the blog!

      • Mackenzie

        Fyi, it did turn out that the people in that show has been out for years. One was out for over a decade, there were divorcees, two had a kid together… it was pretty much all staged. I saw it pointed out that you could tell from the way they talked (no accent, lots of English slang) that they’d been gone a long time.

  • Eileen Atkinson

    Hi, I have watched several of the “Leaving Amish”, ‘Amish out of order” programs and it is really sad to see those who are disatisfied with the quiet lifestyle going gung-ho for what they call the “English” lifestyle. Some change over quite well and others do seem to go much of what is the worst of the world. The saddest part of it all is when one leaves, they aren’t welcomed back even to visit as it may give others an “idea. Also it was sad to see that if an “English” person wanted to become Amish, their family wasn’t accepted even to visit. I suppose the fear was the changee would be pressured to come home just as they would pressure theirs. It was also sad to see that those communities would help an insider but not one who had left in the case of injury or emergency. It was a good feeling to read your blog and hear of the different types of believers in the communities and that all aren’t so controlling. I think there is much to be admired in the simplier lifestyle and that ‘modern’ is not all bad and could make life easier on the farm. I also agree that there is much in the “English” lifestyle that is to be avoided. It is also sad to hear the pressure of being told one will ‘burn in hell’ for leaving the community. I am not of the order of the community but when I became of a different religious order I heard the same comment. I basically became an outsider, [even a sister said that I was her sister but she didn't love me; a brother basically ignores me and never answered my letters], and I found out just how “outside” I was when my Mother died and her will was read. The enmity was there for all to hear all those many, many years later. Even now, the family has very little contact with me. It is sad, but it is their choice to be so as I have tried to reconcile but there is no response.

    • Gina

      Eileen,
      This is very sad indeed :( So sorry to you…hope you have found many others to be a second family to you.

  • Elizabeth

    Let me first start out by saying that I found this post while looking for the differences between the Mennonite and Amish traditions.
    Now, let me say that I do have a question, I just want to give some back story first so that I can get a really accurate answer.
    My name is Elizabeth and I am almost 20 years old. I grew up in a very rural area. There is an Amish community nearby, but I’m not sure where, and I know that Mennonites are nearby as well because I have seen them at WalMart and a few other places, but never at school. I have always been very intrigued by religions and especially very conservative ones.
    I have often thought that I was born in the wrong time period. I crave the ‘old’ way of life – interdependence and independence, community, and simplicity. I want a life that lets me stay closer to nature.
    Despite all of that, I must admit that I have become as “plugged in” as the next American. While I wouldn’t have much trouble giving up most websites and such, throughout my life I have been through a lot of very difficult situations and the internet has put me in contact with some of my best friends, and I could not stand the thought of losing them or my family.
    Also, I consider myself to be a feminist but I also hope that when I get married I may be subservient to my husband while he respects my opinion and wishes but has the final word (nobody should be forced to be subservient, but I wish to be.)

    My question is…does anyone know of a religion/community/etc. that could meet all of my needs? I am already Christian and a pacifist.
    Thanks!

    • Kelly

      While I am not sure that there is any specific place that you would want to attend church there are several churches that I have visited when I was not at my home church that I felt at home with. There are many conservative mennonite churches that everyone is different. At my church some women wear coverings and others do not. some wear skirts, especially to church, while others do not. It is based on everyone’s personal belief in where Christ is leading them to be. Feel free to look up conservative mennonite conference. Some churches are more conservative than others. I hope no matter where you attend you are able to find a home church that allows you to see the savior and know him as a friend.

  • Brin

    I live in a large Mennonite community. My close contact has been since 1973. They are a tight knit community living the old way but have accepted me as a friend and in many work related jobs. I was asked to attend the church and invited to join. I did not only because I am very independent. What I learned was there are different sects. The horse and buggy, no electricity or plumbing and no rubber tired farm machinery. Another are black vehicles with black bumpers. Certain people go to town once a month to get groceries, ect., for several people. Some people never go to town. Yes, they wear the long clothing and bonnets. Others work in regular jobs but still wear the long dresses and bonnets. Others drive very new vehicles of a variety of colors and wear clothes such as you and I. I’ve had some wonderful long term (years) of experiences of social interactions as well as personal conversations where I have been privy to local ‘gossip’ as it were. No one is perfect but I do like their devotion to tradition and work ethics. I certainly don’t know it all, but I’ve had almost 40 yrs. of continuous experience and it’s a knowledge I’m priviledged to have in my life. It’s a mutual respect with good times, lots of laughter and like I said, respect:)

  • Janyl

    I grew up in the Brethren-In-Christ church in Pasadena & Upland, CA….while living in Hollywood/Los Angeles. Interestingly enough, being around people who were more conservative, even Old Order Amish during visits to Ohio, didn’t seem out of place or odd at all. My Grandmother and Great-Grandmother dressed as “typical” Mennonite ladies. I never adopted their style, yet I understood their desire to be as they were. I think it is good that a greater understanding of both Amish and Mennonite is coming forth, especially for those who have connections in ways similar to mine. There are ways to be in the world, but not of it, even without the more conservative dress and ways. To me, being Mennonite comes from the inside out, not the outside in, if that makes sense, and the faith and belief that helps me find a balance.

  • Kelli

    I’ve been fascinated with this way of life since childhood. I want to do project for a media class to show both Mennonites and Amish. I know (most) Mennonites allow photographs but would they allow a student such as myself to stay over night or a weekend with a host family? I would love to live, work, dress, eat, and sleep as they do in their environment completely outside of what I am used to, not only for the project but out of pure interest! How true is it that the Amish refuse all of the above? There are multiple of both in surrounding areas how would you suggest I respectively go about asking for permission?

  • Brian Bowers

    What a wonderful website I just happened to stumble upon while trying to satisfy my curiosity about Mennonites and Amish folks (of which I’m neither and have no real experience with — in fact, I’m 53 and have had little formal religous experiences my entire life). You definitely seem to “have it all together” and I can think of nothing better to spread a positive vibe about Mennonites. What a turn on!

  • Linda

    What brought me to this website was a Google search of amish vs. mennonites. This morning I read an article in our local paper (yesterday’s, I believe) about how a father took his 5 children out on the Conasauga Creek in Polk County, TN. He and three of the children are believed to have drowned when the boat capsized. The article told how he lived in a tight-knit Mennonite community, although originally from Virginia and only in recent years moved to this community. The article described this Mennonite community. The family attended the mennonite church since they moved to the Delano community 5 years ago, although their background was not Mennonite. The article says they are limited on the use of modern technology, and word spread from messages arriving on foot or horseback.
    This sounded more like the Amish to me, so that is why I started looking around for the difference between Mennonite and Amish. Apparently there are Mennonites who live very much like the Amish.

  • Casey

    I was wondering what the Mennonite position on homosexuality is?

    I have a lot of Mennonite neighbors, in a rural small town. They are close to the earth and farmers mostly. They wear dresses with a lace-like cap. Is that optional? If I remember right, the men wear dark pants with suspenders, and maybe a hat…

    They are friendly but quiet, don’t seem interested in interacting, but I’ve never tried to though. They smile politely and move on, like when I see them in a convenience store.

    If you’re wondering, I’m pretty new-age spiritual, on the periphery though, mainly just read about it. Reincarnation, spirit guides, meditation, chakras, that sort of thing. After reading countless testimonies on near-death experiences, I’m convinced there is a wonderful afterlife. I’m pretty close to believing in a supreme being or force, as so many things seem purposefully designed, and there are so many coincidences in life that they cannot be coincidences. So much synergy out there.

    Thanks, I’m glad I found your blog. I was thinking about my neighbors and decided to do a google, and up you popped :)

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  • Nicholas

    I live on the border of maryland and pennsylvania where there are a lot of amish and mennonites. Naturally with both so close stories are everywhere. My question for you is on religious structure, is there a segregation among the genders? Are there things women are not allowed to do like in amish culture?

    • admin

      You know Nicholas, I’m actually less familiar with Amish norms than I am with Mennonite ones. Amish do have some pretty strict division of labor, and certainly women cannot be leaders in the church in Amish contexts, but beyond that, in day-to-day life, I’m not sure.

      • Nicholas

        I apologize. My question wasn’t clear. Is there a “division of labor” or limitations among Mennonites? I was informed it was a very male dominated religion and the women are ‘forced’ to be submissive.

        • admin

          Hi Nicholas, in the group of Mennonites that I am a part of – Mennonite Church USA – men and women are pretty equal. There would be some more conservative communities, where men would typically be the leaders, but that would be similar to many other conservative Christian organizations. Many of our congregations have women as pastors, and by and large, women and men are treated equally. Women are vital parts of the Mennonite church.

    • Jady

      Nicholas,
      You live on the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania? I am moving to that area and was looking for cities where I can live close to the Amish and Mennonites. Can you tell me where is that you see them in that area? I was thinking of moving to Rising Sun, MD in Cecil County.

      • Nicholas

        Jady,
        I live in hagetstown. In the northern panhandle of maryland about 10 min from pa and wv. we have mostly mennonites and penn dutch here. I have been told there are amish nearby but I don’t know where. I think most of the amish are in pennsylvania. I often see mennonites at walmart and there are lots of dutch markets in the area.

  • Lucinda

    I think this is great, I have been doing geneology and recently discovered that a a 8th great grandparent come from Switzerland and was Mennonite. It kind of makes sence now because I was always told that we were Pennsyvainia Dutch (so the stories in my family goes). Now I wonder if that may have been the Mennonites as I think Amish may have been refered to as Pennsylviana Dutch. P.S. I am fair skinned Lucinda

  • Brittany Scott

    I’d like to get married, but sadly everywhere I turn there’s a government issue. Do the Amish go through the government to get married. Or just through gods eyes? And would they marry two people that are Christian if we are in need of them

  • jeri

    I have made some new Mennonite friends ( I think they are old world order because they wear traditional clothing). They have been gracious to invite me to their home and visit and spend the night. What should I bring for gifts and what social customs should I be aware of? I am Jewish and liberal.
    Thanks for your response
    Jeri

  • Cathy Naude

    I have long known of the existence of the Amish but only recently heard of the Mennonites. In looking for information I found your blog and learned some very interesting facts. I also had a good laugh at some of the questions and your witty answers. I find it difficult to place myself in any one spiritual belief and find myself with an infinity for any religion /belief that respects mother earth and all her inhabitants. Hurt no one and I’m happy to listen and learn. Try to hurt or repress and I’ll fight for the right for all to have and practice their beliefs. I am also always looking for more information to better understand the different faiths around me. I will be following your blog with a lot of interest, I may not share your faith but I sure share your sense of humour!

  • Hillary

    hi, I was thinking about becoming a mennonite so your questions really helped me thank you. question were you born a Mennonite? how does one become a mennonite, do mennonite ever wear clothing or makeup from the world? and do mennonite get jobs in the real world?

    • Hannah

      Hi Hillary – I am a Mennonite and I was born into a Mennonite family, although we are not part of the conservative Mennonite group. I am a member of Mennonite Church USA (you can check it out here: http://www.mennoniteusa.org/), so to become a member of one of our churches, you just need to start attending and can go through membership classes, etc. We do wear makeup and regular clothes as well: we don’t have any special restrictions on what we can wear, where we can work, etc. There are other more conservative groups of Mennonites who do dress in plain clothes, but most Mennonites that I know look just like any other Christian.

      • Hillary

        so being a mennonite just means being apart of the church? or do you live with mennonites in the same community

        • Hannah

          Hi Hillary – Yes, for Mennonite Church USA, which I am a part of, being Mennonite is just about joining a church and being a part of that community. While there are some areas where there are many Mennonite congregations, and a few churches (maybe 5) that still function as intentional communities, Mennonites generally would not be part of a closed community.

  • Katie

    Can you guys have sex? Is it for pleasure or just to have kids??

    • Hillary

      God says sex before marriage is a sin

      • Katie

        I know that. But what about after marriage?

        • Hillary

          I am not sure about how they have sex when they are married but the Bible clearly teaches that sexual intimacy is a privilege God intends for couples to enjoy within marriage. All the way back to the first book of the Bible, God makes it clear that he intends a man and a woman to become husband and wife and be “unified as one” (Gen. 2:24). In the New Testament, God’s original design of marriage fidelity is clearly reaffirmed (Heb. 13:4). Throughout history most cultures have lived consistently with this plan of God. Today most people think and say otherwise. Even the laws of our land make it easy to live together without following God’s way. Eighty percent of unmarried young adults ages 18-29 have had sex.

  • Hillary

    so being a mennonite just means being apart of the church? or do you live with mennonites in the same community

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  • Rev. Donna H.

    I’m a Brethren in Christ ordained pastor, sort of a cousin on the ol’ Anabaptist family tree. Our two groups (BiC and MCUSA) do a lot of missions and world relief together. I just wanted to say thanks for your blog and the open way you discuss all the questions. You don’t shy away from controversies, and at the same time you stick to the subject. Peace!

    • Hannah

      Hi Donna – I am familiar with the Brethren in Christ! When I lived in southern California, we collaborated with several BIC congregations on various projects. I’m glad to “meet” you here and wish you blessings in your ministry. Hannah

  • Hillary

    1.1 Do Mennonites believe that a person is saved only through the forgiveness that Jesus Christ provided through his death & resurrection? Do the Mennonites believe that salvation can be earned through practice or tradition?
    Salvation is a gift from God, available only through the ultimate sacrifice of Christ that ended all sacrifices, and made available by His resurrection, proving that now even death was under Christ’s dominion. Through Christ and His Spirit, believers are led of His will, wanting to do what pleases the Father. Therefore, Beachys believe that Biblical and Godly practice is an outpouring of a desire to please the Father. Salvation is not only a one-time event, but a life-long outworking of the Spirit. This is part of the fruit of which Christ speaks (Matthew 13:23).

    1.2 Do the Mennonites accept the Apostle’s Creed?
    While the Apostle’s Creed is not a major emphasis, the Mennonites would accept the principles thereof.

    1.3 Do the Mennonites send out missionaries?
    Yes, the Mennonites hold to the “Great Commission” of Matthew 28:19-20.

    1.4 Are there any doctrinal differences between Mennonites and conservative Christians?
    Mennonites have religious roots in the Amish, and therefore, have some Amish beliefs carried over. One of these is the emphasis on the community of believers. Thus, many beliefs have a community emphasis, such as submission to leaders and church practices, closed communion (available only to members of THAT church), excommunication of deviant/inactive members, congregational singing rather than instrumentalists and soloists, ordination by the call of the church rather than the personal call of the individual, and mutual aid programs instead of private insurance. Members help each other out in various ways, whether giving a gift of bread, sending an adolescent daughter to help a mother who has just given birth to a child, or mowing the lawn of an elderly church member. Thus, whereas modern Christian emphasizes a personal religion, the Anabaptist religion emphasizes the necessity of the group in Christianity.

    Visiting and Attending a Mennonite Church
    2.1 Can I visit a church unannounced, or should I contact someone first?
    Mennonite churches welcome people to just show up on a given Sunday, as one would with many other denominations. However, because there are not as many “in-and-out” visitors in Mennonite churches, you may wish to contact the bishop, minister, or another church member ahead of time, but this is neither necessary nor even expected of visitors.

    2.2 Is it unusual for a non-Mennonite to visit the church?
    No, it is not unusual for most churches. While there may not be non-Mennonite visitors most Sundays, many churches are accustomed to having them as visitors. However, the church community is close enough that they do know when there are visitors, even in larger churches. (Please forgive any looks or people taking special notice; it’s not polite, but it happens. And, after all, the plain people get stared at most everywhere else they go! ☺ )

    2.3 I visited a Mennonite church and the people were not plain. What’s going on?
    Because being “plain” is different than the rest of society, many Amish and Mennonites have not wanted to be plain anymore. They did not see value in it. Entire churches have gotten away from being plain, but they still call themselves “Mennonite” because they hold to some historic Mennonite doctrines. Some plain churches today are going through a transition to become no longer plain, but not all. The Mennonite churches you find on Internet websites will almost always be non-plain Mennonites. They are more integrated into society, and therefore use things like the Internet more readily to provide information for their church group. Even the “Conservative Mennonite Conference,” despite its name, is not a plain group.

    2.4 What will people think of me when I visit?
    People will likely be curious about you and ask questions. Don’t be intimidated, and feel free to ask questions in return. This is how we learn from one another. Some are afraid that the Beachys or other plain people will look down on them or judge them for being, looking, or acting differently. This happens rarely on a visit. Instead, the Beachys and Mennonites you will meet are often friendly, courteous, respectful, and not pushy.

    2.5 How should I dress?
    There are no requirements for visitors. First of all, you do not have to worry about dressing “right” or trying to imitate their way of dress. You are a visitor and not a church member, and are therefore not expected to dress like them. Formal wear is appreciated, but once again, there is no requirement. However, the following are recommendations for how you may wish to dress to be respectful to the Beachy beliefs of modesty. Men may wish to dress as they would normally for a formal occasion. Ties are fine, and may even help you be clearly identified as a visitor (which is good). You may wish to steer away from shorts. Women may want to wear a skirt or dress that reaches to the knees or below with socks or hose covering any exposed areas. A jumper may also work. The blouse (with the skirt) should not be too tight or see-through and should have sleeves of some length. Jewelry and makeup should be moderate or absent. Hair may be worn up, but is not required. A head covering, though adhered to as a Biblical command by the Mennonites, is not required for visitors, and you would not need to wear one unless you already regularly wear some sort of covering.

    2.6 Why do men and women sit separately in church services?
    While most Mennonite churches have separate seating, a few smaller churches allow couples to sit together, though singles remain on their sides. There are a couple reasons many conservative Mennonite congregations retain separate seating.
    1) Because God assigns different roles for men and women in church services (see 1 Corinthians 11 and 14, for example), it is appropriate to have them grouped together so that they can be together as each fulfills his or her roles, such as men being in the leadership role.
    2) With mixed seating, there is an emphasis on families sitting together. But when we come together, we are a church family, and the family institution takes a secondary role to the eternal family of God. We ought to function as a church family, not a church of families. Matthew 12:47-50.

    2.7 What are the “unexpecteds” I should expect?
    · The congregation may “bow” or “kneel” to pray. This is like praying at your bedside, except the bed is the pew you were sitting on. Everyone does this at once. You turn around to pray rather than praying forward as is common at Episcopal or Catholic churches.
    · Stay after the service and visit with people. This is a time of conversation and fellowship. Casual visiting is typically not done before the service. People may seem unfriendly before the church service, but this is not the case. They are being quiet because they want to come to church in reverence and reserve the chatting for after the service is over.
    · Members exchange a handshake and simultaneous “holy kiss” as spoken of at the end of several epistles. The holy kiss is exchanged among members and like-minded Mennonite groups. For men especially, if someone is about to kiss you, politely inform them that you are not a member. Do not feel rejected or excluded because you are not kissed; this is not the intention.
    · You may wish to bring a King James Version Bible with you. This is the translation used, and Bibles are not provided at the church.
    · There are no choirs, and singing is done by the congregation. The singing is a cappella. If you have trouble singing along, don’t feel bad. The members grew up singing this way so it comes naturally.
    · You will likely receive an invitation to a meal at a family’s home after the service. Accept the invitation if you are able. It is a good way to get to know people outside of church.

    2.8 What should I know about a meal invitation?
    It’s not important to get everything “right,” but these are some pointers. Don’t worry that you might offend someone by doing something wrong; this may be all new to you, and the hosts realize this.

    Sunday meal invitations are common among the plain people; there may be others from the church also invited to the same family’s house for a meal. At your meal invitation, unless guided otherwise, your party’s women may join the other women in the kitchen and your party’s men may sit in the living room. When the meal is ready, the host will tell you where to sit at the table. After a prayer, wait for the host to instruct on how to pass the food or when to join the line if it is buffet style. Take what you can eat, but don’t leave leftovers on your plate. Keep the silverware you used for your meal for dessert also. When the host dismisses from the meal, the women can go to the kitchen for clean-up and the men to the living room, until the women are done cleaning, and then they will join the men in the living room. Chat for 20 to 60 minutes, and unless the conversation is going very well, simply suggest that it is time to head out; you need no excuse to leave. If the host says, “You’re welcome to stay longer,” don’t, unless they’re adamant. This is just a formality. Most Mennonites take a nap between 3:30pm and 5pm Sunday afternoon. Another way to dismiss yourself is to do so when other guests dismiss themselves. If there’s an evening service and you want to attend, ask about it. If you came from a distance and want to stay, the host will likely provide accommodations. If you don’t want to nap and the conversation is going well, keep talking. Naps aren’t a hard-and-fast rule. If they want their nap, you may be able to read a book in the living room before a light supper is served.

    2.9 Do the Mennonites accept people who did not grow up in that setting but want to join?
    Yes. There is usually at least one person from “non-Mennonite background” If you visit or attend a Mennonite church regularly, you may wish to open communication with these people to get advice and support.

    2.10 How does one join a Mennonite church?
    First, attend a Mennonite church for a comfortable amount of time. For some people, this is short, maybe three to six months; for others, this may be many years. After evaluating the church and deciding if this is a commitment you want to make (both spiritually and culturally), approach the bishop to inquire about membership. What follows is a six month “proving” period where the individual is instructed in the church beliefs and practices, which may include review of the church guidance and statements of faith, such as Dordrecht Confession of Faith. After the six months, if there are no issues for either the individual or the church, the person will be accepted into the congregation. If the person had not been baptized before, then at this point he will be baptized. When joining, keep in mind the reaction of immediate and extended family. If your spouse does not want to go along with it, take some extra time and caution in joining.

    Garb and the Head Covering
    3.1 Why do women wear head coverings?
    The Amish, and many Mennonites wear coverings, but so do other some Christians today who have been convicted of doing so from reading the Bible. There is becoming more and more of a realization that the Bible teaches the wearing of the head covering for Christian women. This is taught in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, right next to the passage on communion. People write off the head covering for all sorts of reasons today, saying it is cultural or just for the time, etc… but what is the real motive for doing so? Many Christians today want their appearance looking good or attractive, and ignore passages that address appearance like 1 Peter 3:1-6. The head covering would be an additional burden to looking attractive or stylish. Paul speaks to universal and spiritual reasons to wear the covering, not all the other stuff people come up with today. Angels, prayer, headship order, among other reasons, are of eternal value, not cultural or time-period relativity. Also, God wants women to have long hair as it says in 1 Cor. 11, but this isn’t the only covering. Verse six wouldn’t make sense if Paul said that long hair was the only covering. You may read more about the head covering in the book The Ornament of a Spirit, written by this website’s author.

    3.2 Why do some of the women wear different styles of covering?
    Because there is so much congregational autonomy within churches, churches can craft their own guiding practices, including style of head covering. The traditional bonnet-style covering is the most common, but some churches have switched to the veil, which is a white or black cloth draped over the head. The veil is often used on the global mission field. Some of the more conservative Beachy churches have adopted a style similar to the Old Order Amish of the Midwest. It resembles the traditional bonnet-style, but is larger and is opaque. This subject is addressed in The Ornament of a Spirit.

    3.3 Why do the women wear garb that stands out more than the men?
    First of all, there are many men in the Beachy church that wear plain garb that complements women’s clothes. However, some Mennonites do espouse the view that plain garb is of little importance compared to greater issues and Scriptural “principles.” This movement may be somewhat a reaction against an overemphasis on plain garb, it may be a desire to get away from distinctive garb to fashionable garb, it may be an excuse to accommodate a heart desiring secular fashion, or it may be a reaction against uniform church guidance and accountability in general. There may be other possibilities, but in about all cases it may be an inability for the person born in Beachy culture to recognize the simple significance and testimony that such plain garb produces when complemented by the character one expects from people who dress in the distinctive manner. Instead, the “dress standard” is shrouded with cultural connotations. This question is more complicated than this brief answer has been able to do justice to, and is a question of ongoing frustration among Beachys that is guaranteed to spark discussion, both the mutually edifying conversations and the agitated, polarized debates.

    In some of the more mainstream Mennonite churches, the women dress less plain, too, with smaller, less distinctive coverings and coats that cover up the evidence that they are wearing a full dress with a cape. There are entire fashion trends for church-prescribed garb that make the whole concept of plain clothes an oxymoron. For example, capes on women’s dresses that are meant to conceal the figure are tightened to accent the body, or a simple dress is spruced up with eye-catching variations at the waist or dress/sleeve ends. Therefore, the desire among some within Mennonite circles (or any conservative Amish or Mennonite church for that matter) to get away from plainness is not just among the men.

    Specific Practices and Beliefs
    4.1 Do Mennonites use horse and buggies or do they drive cars?
    Mennonite drive cars. Some would use horse and buggies.

    4.2 Do Mennonites have electricity and other modern conveniences?
    Mennonites do not abstain from as many technologies as the Old Order Amish. Some Mennonites would have electricity, telephones, and modern kitchen appliances. Most churches, though not all, would allow computers, cell phones, tape and CD players, and cameras. None allow television. Individual churches decide what to allow and what not to allow based on the extent to which they wish to control the level of influence from surrounding secular society, and the level of technology acceptance in any given church is reflected in the amount the church’s practices and mindsets are influenced and blended with that of Western society.

    4.3 What about computers and Internet?
    The more conservative groups would either prohibit computers or limit computer use to record-keeping and forbid Internet. Moderate groups allow computer use and make some sort of limitation on the Internet, such as, email-only, Internet use allowed outside of home (work or library) but not in the home, or filter software. Liberal groups may make some sort of limitation on Internet usage, such as filter software or an accountability program, but it is not strongly enforced.

    4.4 What about education?
    Many only complete an eighth grade education, though it is becoming more common in the oncoming generation to complete high school. School attendance is mostly at private Beachy or other Anabaptist church schools. A minority would home school their children, but none would attend public schools. A very few go on to college, and if they do, it is usually for a technical degree required for a service occupation, such as nursing. Most Beachys employ one another, and their occupations do not require a higher degree.

    4.5 Which Bible translation do Mennonite use?
    All Mennonites use the KJV or NIV as their standard text. The moderate and more relaxed churches would use other translations in study and as a supplement, and may reference them in services. The Mennonites who know German will use Luther’s Bible in the same way other English translations are used. Beachys in Latin America will use the Santa Anna Bible. Few Mennonites are strong about KJV-only, even if it is the standard translation.

    4.6 What do the Mennonites believe about Christmas?
    observe Christmas, but would not be as involved in the materialism. A few gifts are exchanged. In most homes there are no Christmas trees or lavish decorations. Church members or groups within the church may go Christmas caroling several times in December; this is a highlight of December for members. Mennonites also observe Good Friday and Easter, and to a lesser extent, Ascension Day.

    Can you guys have sex? Is it for pleasure or just to have kids??
    I am not sure about how they have sex when they are married but the Bible clearly teaches that sexual intimacy is a privilege God intends for couples to enjoy within marriage. All the way back to the first book of the Bible, God makes it clear that he intends a man and a woman to become husband and wife and be “unified as one” (Gen. 2:24). In the New Testament, God’s original design of marriage fidelity is clearly reaffirmed (Heb. 13:4). Throughout history most cultures have lived consistently with this plan of God. Today most people think and say otherwise. Even the laws of our land make it easy to live together without following God’s way. Eighty percent of unmarried young adults ages 18-29 have had sex.

    there is also a facebook page you can check out called so, I married a Mennonite https://www.facebook.com/soimarriedamennonite

    just so you know I am not a Mennonite I have done alot of history on them and I am thinking about becoming one I don’t know yet I go to a church of christ and they think I am crazy for wanting to become a mennonite they don’t understand why I want to become a Mennonite and why do I want to leave there church and I have only worn my bonnet like 3xs and when I did they laughed

  • Hillary

    my biggest question that I have that no one still have answered for me is so being a mennonite just means being apart of the church? or do you live with mennonites in the same community? and can your family that is not a mennonite come see you

  • Heather

    My children attended VBS this week at a Mennonite church. We recently moved to a rural area in Delaware and received an invite to VBS. My husband and I attended VBS tonight for “parents night” and were welcomed with open arms. Everyone was so kind it was unreal, I have been yearning for a church family like this. We are Lutheran and were very involved in our church back home until I found out that there was illegal activity taking place with regards to money, and we slowly and quietly began to leave our church. I guess I miss the scence of family and community the most and scince moving out of state and not knowing anyone and the people at this Mennonite church were very kind to us and children. So I guess I really am wondering other then small lifestyle differences are Mennonite and Lutheran teachings similar? LCMS follow KJV Bible and follow the book of Luther…maybe you, Hannah, have some insight or anyone else reading???

    • Rebecca

      I think it will depend on where you live – some Mennonites are quite liberal in their views and would be more like the ELCA, while others might be more similar to the LCMS. The service might look different, and the Bible that is read in the service typically isn’t the KJV. I’d say, go a couple of times, talk to people to get a sense of what they believe, how that works with your own beliefs (some Mennonites emphasize peace, social justice, simplicity, but these ideas can mean really different things for different people and communities) and then see if it’s a community you could benefit from and serve in.

  • Rebekah

    Hi! Thanks for writing this blog.Your writing is really good.Hopefully another question won’t drive you insane.I’d like to know more about the mennonite community, do you speak dutch? — Rebekah

    • Hannah

      Nope, I actually don’t. Some Mennonites whose history is a bit more tied to Europe still, or Amish and conservative Mennonites, do speak a dialect of Dutch, but not me!

  • Mackenzie

    As a Quaker, I can’t see how saying it’s more like Quakers helps. Everyone thinks we’re Amish too!

    Do you ever explain that there are some Plain Mennonites but you’re on the liberal end of things? I end up doing that regarding Quakers because of the oatmeal man. Of course, liberal Quakers are in the minority, next to evangelical ones, but the conservative ones (where most Plain dressing occurs) are even more of a minority.

    • Hannah

      Thanks for this take. It’s interesting that people equate Quaker with Amish, too. You can tell that I’ve sort of got my own slant and understanding of what/who Quakers are, too. I wouldn’t have guessed that. And yes, I do try to talk about a continuum of Mennonites. I’ve gotten better at my descriptions since I wrote this post over a year ago. I actually wrote this follow-up, where I explained that a bit more clearly. http://www.femonite.com/2013/06/13/im-mennonite-not-amish-part-ii-5-more-questions-and-my-answers/

  • http://tmoore6662@aol.com Thalia

    I submitted my DNA to a site, and was able to connect with many new cousins. One person invited me to submit my info to an Anabaptist database. Apparently, I have “Swiss Mennonite” DNA (or something like that) I have matched with several others in the database. I descend from Pennsylvania Quakers (who came over with William Penn in the 1600′s), and was raised Quaker. Probably, one of my Quaker ancestors married a Mennonite somewhere along the line. I am suddenly interested in learning more about the Mennonite community in Pennsylvania. This is a very interesting blog. You have helped me learn a lot! Thanks- Thalia

  • MONIQUA GILBERT

    Are there any mennonites of color?

    • Hannah

      Hi Moniqua – Yes, there definitely are. In fact, the largest group of Mennonites is in Africa. And, in the U.S., the fastest growing group in the church is Latino. In Los Angeles, where I used to live, there were 25 Mennonite churches, and 23 of them were church plants started by first and second generation immigrants from around the world.

    • http://gravatar.com/hbrownforever Day In The Life Of Hillary

      yes there are I have seen some on fb there are lots of them

  • Gail Kave

    We just attended a get together with my husband’s cousins in Lebanon, PA. They are Mennonite. The women and young women wore prayer caps and all of the females were in pretty floral print yet plain traditional dresses. Most of the men were in black pants, white shirts and black vests while others were in long pants and long sleeved shirts. The boys wore jeans or long pants but had short sleeved collared shirts. All of the women had 5 or 6 children. The host and hostess have 32 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren and they are only in their early 60′s. There were 10 year old girls playing with their 2 year old nieces and nephews. One girl was telling me of her two older sisters. One is 23 and pregnant with her second child. The other is 21 and married less than a year and due with her first in January. She told me that the teenagers don’t go to high school. They go to Three Hour. That means that when they finish 8th grade, they only go to school for 3 hours every Wednesday. They get jobs or work at home. I asked if they ever go to college and she laughed and said that she’s never known anyone who went to college. Guess there are significant variations throughout the culture. It was fun meeting them and getting to know them. I’m an Italian-Jew from New Jersey. I think I scared a couple of them. :-)

  • Josh

    Question for you. What would be acceptable clothes to wear to a Mennonite Brethren Church the first Sunday?

    • Hannah

      It really depends on the congregation, but most Mennonite Brethren churches that I have visited would usually have no set dress code. Most people would dress nicely — dress pants and a nice shirt for men, maybe a dress or skirt for women. But I’ve also seen people in jeans and t-shirts, etc.

      • Josh

        Thank you very much for your reply Hannah

  • L. Howard Kyle

    I enjoyed reading a good bit of this post, as it brought back memories. I was born in Indiana, and got into a lot of trouble as a kid, was given the choice by the authorities to attend church for a year or perhaps be sent to reform school. Church didn’t seem so bad, so I chose Belmont Mennonite in Elkhart, close to our home. After some months, my S.S. teacher asked if I would attend a revival at Prairie St Mennonite, and there I was saved. I got involved with the youth group and soon was asked to bring a message.
    Afterward, this 16 year old kid was told I might be called to preach. So I began to pray for direction, and after a while, one afternoon, God spoke to me in an audible voice with only a few words which settled all doubt. As the doors opened, I moved to Minneapolis, attended North Central Univ. and I was pastor at several Assembly of God churches, my last on in Hemet, Ca.
    prior to retirement 10 years ago. Since then I am involved in seniors ministries. I’ll be 81soon. Still find online Mennonite choir accapella which I really enjoy. Blessings!

  • Kayla

    Hi, I am doing a paper on Mennonites and was wondering about the work life of a Mennonite.

    • Hannah

      Hi Kayla – I’m afraid I’m not quite sure how to help you with this. Mennonites have all sorts of different careers. They are not usually limited in what they can do, so their work lives would vary greatly.

  • Harold Disney

    Hannah,

    Thank you for this blog. I just recently found out that my grand parents on my mother’s side were mennonites from the Ukraine. We live in an area with a large Amish community and I mistakenly related the mennonite life style with the Amish. The kids will be glad to know we are keeping the car and leaving the lights on.

  • https://www.facebook.com/iris.seefeldt Iris Seefeldt

    I came across this blog while looking for information on Shipshewana Indiana for a brief tour I am making in December. While reading all these blogs and finding them very interesting from the religious aspects my questions are purely historical in nature.
    I am a German National born in the Black Forest region in the town of Freiburg i/Breisgau in 1943. My family immigrated in 1952 and now I live in the Midwest. I consider myself German, but also Alemannisch, a tribe living in the region in post Celtic times with a distinctive culture not at all Germanic. The linguistic background which the Amish brought with them to America is still a part of their lives I believe. I venture to say I am able to understand them and have been able to converse. In the past when introduced to an Amish person I felt an elation that we were communicating at all in anything other than English. I want to know if there is any interest in the Amish or Mennonite community in researching the European enclaves such as the Ukraine, and Romania for ancestors. Because there were Germans in the 17th and 18th century in communities as such, is this history taught at all in the school system or is it deemed of no relevance to them now?
    Iris Roswitha Seefeldt

  • http://internetexplorer john

    my question was’ do amish and quackers believe in god?

    • Don

      “Like Quakers, the Mennonites also believe in a simple life. In fact, it is said that those who do not believe in God, often find ways to distract and complicate their lives. Most Mennonites believe this is even truer as our society focuses on technology and fast-paced lifestyles. Mennonites base their simple life in the trust filled and simple belief that God is the father and that the Mennonites are all his children.”

      https://wiki.uiowa.edu/display/theatre/Quakers,+Mennonites,+and+the+Amish

  • Judith

    I have always wanted to leave this modern world behind and live like the people long ago have. When I learned about the Amish and Mennonites and that they are still around doing just what I had envisioned, I thought that is the type of life I have been yearning for. ( I am from Hawaii and had never heard of the Amish or Mennonites, thought maybe they were something from long ago.) I would love to live like them but would have a harder time with the language.

  • Cheryl Berg

    I guess I don’t really question people about their lifestyle, and seldom think about it. I came across your blog, because I wanted to know more about a woman that has become a dear friend. I have never asked her any questions about being a Mennonite because we are too busy taking about other things and sharing laughs.
    The one thing that I notice about her is that she is Dynamic! One can look at her painfully pain clothing and her hair covering and be able to look past her until she looks back at them and speaks. This woman is so far from common that it lifts the spirit. And I feel fortunate that she accepts me with all my BLING as her friend.
    Why people can’t see past the “plain” and enjoy the person is beyond me.

    And for the record: I am the only one of the two of us that has actually made butter (once is enough) and has a passion for gardening and canning.

  • Leah

    Hello, I am doing a project in my Comparing World Religions class and I came across a question that I could not find an answer to. My question is do Mennonites have a coming of age rite? For example, the Amish have Rumspringa and the Anabaptists get baptized when they are adults.
    Thanks.

    • Hannah

      Mennonites are actually one sub-group under the Anabaptists, as are the Amish. I can only answer for my denomination -which is Mennonite Church USA – but we also practice adult baptism, and this baptism symbolizes a person’s entry into the church as a member.

  • Elizabeth brown

    I don’t tell people I am Mennonite because I don’t what to answer the questions but then it seems like I am ashamed of who I am and I don’t want to be like that.

  • Jessica

    Hi Hannah! I’ve always been curious as to how the Mennonites and Amish are different, so thanks for clearing up a few things! Also, I’ve read quite a few books with Amish/Mennonite characters in and have enjoyed learning more about your ways of life through fiction. I find it fascinating and I admire the way you stand up for what you believe in. As a Christian, I can understand how easy worldly distractions can be, so I see why living more simply would benefit our relationships with people & God. Thanks for this and Happy new Year!

  • aaron

    Hey Hannah… I want to marry an amish or mennonite woman and become… İs it possible_? Are they accept me_?

  • http://gravatar.com/idahomountains Tabitha

    I am curious as to what material the white head coverings of the Beachy Amish, Eastern Mennonite, or Conservative Mennonite are made out of. It can’t be tulle because that would just be weird. Can you help me?

  • Rudolph

    Is rape and incest prevalent in your community as it is in the Bolivian Mennonite community?
    (I cite the documentary Ghost Rapes of Bolivia as my source, it’s on You Tube.)

    • Rachel

      Speaking from my experience (I have some cousins etc. in Bolivia, I don’t know them personally though), it is not. But I feel (I’m sorry if I’m representing this wrong :/) that Mennonites who were brought up more conservative have a bit more of a problem with this. I think it’s because of the “rules” or “traditions” that seem to be based solely on what they think is right, rather than the Bible. Some of the things that my relatives do, or other people, just shock me because of their ignorance. Yet they still somehow believe that what they are doing is the right thing, simply because they do not understand (many of the churches in Bolivia don’t teach them to read, it’s just the pastor telling them a bunch of rules, and how he interprets the Bible)

  • Don

    In recent years, I found out through researching my genealogy that I come from a very long line of Mennonite ancestors in the Montgomery and Bucks counties of Pennsylvania with many ancestors buried at the Towamencin Mennonite Cemetery and several others nearby (Stover, Stauffer, Delp, Allebach, Oberholtzer, Rosenberger, Hunsicker, Clemens, Kratz, Funk, Cassel, etc.). Although I do not remember anyone telling us we have a strong Mennonite heritage, reading your comments and answers to various questions, I see similar teachings of a more simple life have been passed down in our family through the generations. I would comfortably say this lifestyle has been of great influence to the culture of our family and now I have more insight as to the roots.
    Thank you very much for sharing an insight to the Mennonite world and a better understanding of my ancestors, their beliefs and their lifestyle.

  • De

    There are many different types of Mennonites. I live in southeastern Manitoba, Canada and there are some Mennonites who drink, some who don’t, some who have very strict and “old fashioned” clothing and rules about facial hair, and even amongst those, there are differences in style and what is allowed. Some must wear skirts but otherwise can dress is current western clothing/makeup. Seriously, there must be about 10 different streams of Mennonites around here. One thing they do all have in common is acceptance and use of modern machinery, cars, and electricity. Some do not allow tv, radio, etc.

  • Sharlet Mariea Tollison Kennedy

    In doing family history work, I find names the last names of Stover, Sticker, Braumbach, Krehbiel Zaugg Widner Lionberger, Kiener and some others. They come from Switzerland, Germany, Pennslyvania Virginia and a couple from Ohio. Could these people be either Amish or Mennonite? The first name appears as a Rebecca Stover born 1806 in Shennadoah Valley, VA married a Thomas Kemp born 1801. They both died in Page County, VA. The names go back to Jacob Zaugg 1530 and his wife Verene Weuterich 1533 from Ruderswil, Bern, Swiss and Peter Krahenbuhl 1550 and his wife Margaritha Frey 1555 both from Grosshochstetten, Bern, Swss. I would love to correspond with any members from these family lines. There are no Mennonites or Amish in Nevada where I live. I am originally from Oklahoma and there are some Stovers in Duncan, however, I have never had an opportunity to meet them. There is a Mennonite community near Chickasha Oklahoma but I didn’t have time to meet them although I did see their cemetery where I think I remember seeing the name Zaugg. Can you help?

    • Don

      Would this look like the correct family you are looking for?
      Name: Rebecca Stover
      Gender: Female
      Birth: Abt 1806, Shenandoah Co., Virginia
      Death: ABT 1849, Page Co., Virginia, U.S.A.
      Burial: Zion Lutheran Cem., Douds, Van Buren, Iowa

      Marriage#1
      Thomas B Kemp, 1801-1848
      Married: Abt 1827, of, Shenandoah, VA
      Children(4)
      Mary E. Comer 1835-1868
      Lafayette Kemp 1836-1887
      Sarah Jane Kemp 1837-Deceased
      Daniel Kemp 1840-1914

      Marriage #2
      Walter Whitten
      Birth: 1801, New York
      Death: 1863, Douds Station, Van Buren, Iowa

      • Sharlet Mariea Tollison Kennedy

        This is the correct family but I want to know if they were either Amish or Mennonite.

    • Carla Hannemann

      There are Lionbergers in Wisconsin and they are German Lutheran.

      • Sharlet Mariea Tollison Kennedy

        I wish I knew how to contact the family in Wisconsin to see if there is a connection. Even more than that, I wish I could just spend a day with my ancestors, talking with them and learning from them. We have so much to learn from and be grateful for in regard to our ancestors. As I learn more, they become alive to me, and I feel a real connection to them. In a city like Las Vegas, where I live, life happens so fast. It is nice to know that somewhere in my past, my ancestors lived a slower and hopefully more peaceful live. I would love to hear their stories and wish that they had left diaries behind such as I am doing for future generations.

  • Darrin P.

    I have such a respect for Amish and Mennonite people about their beliefs and how they live. I communicate with them by going out to their farms out here in se Minnesota when I go and buy honey from them. They are always so friendly and warm loving. I would like to be able to identify the Amish from Mennonite by appearance so that I can respectfully ask the right questions without offense. I am extremely interested in a friendship possibly but still trying to learn how they interpret the English and just how close I can get before the church might have a say. I am born again Christian.

  • Don Erhardt

    I have always been intrigued with the Amish- Mennonite ( Brethren?) faith
    Have a great deal of respect for your moderation, self-control and discipline in you lifestyle.
    I am very confused about the recent information I have been observing on the TV show “Amish Mafia” would really like to know:
    1. are the people on this show really Amish and or Mennonite ( or is this all just a Hollywood farce)

    2. If they are real I am “VERY CONFUSED” about their behavior such as Alcohol and drug use, violence, permissive sexual encounters ect.
    and the thing about praying for Gods help before the blow up an enemies barn or burn down his house because the person will not pay “protection money” yet they claim to be in good standing with the church ???

    Hope you can clear up some of these questions.

    • Sharlet Mariea Tollison Kennedy

      I am not either Amish or Mennonite, however, I do have many ancestors who were. In regard to the television show “Amish Mafia” anyone can look it up on the internet. The show is just a show and has no basis in fact!

  • Don Erhardt

    Thanks for the reply. However not being an active Amish or Mennonite I’m not sure you would really know about the people on the show “Amish Mafia”
    The show puts on camera and portrays real people that report to be active Amish/ Mennonite.
    The show interviews Church leaders active Amish as well as with church officials and local law enforcement.
    This show is either the best “Ruse” every portrayed or something is really amiss in the Amish community ( at least the several showed on this show)
    I find it hard to believe the show has put on a ruse so elaborate that they include several states, and dozens of actors. But anything is possible.
    Really just trying to find out what the Amish- Mennonites are all about !Would love to here from some active Amish folks and their take on the behavior/ lifestyle of this portrayal of their people/ faith!!

    • Peter Hawley

      Don, it’s not likely you’ll hear from any Amish people because of their problem with electricity, and Mennonites are NOT Amish, so they would probably not know or be interested in attempting to answer your question. That show is most likely a “Hollywood” fabrication with the catchy title to intrigue you into watching. The whole idea is ridiculous & contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Your Bible tells you
      , “Justice is mine, says the Lord”.

      • Don Erhardt

        thanks again for the information, I am really just attempting to figure out the Amish and Mennonite ways. The people on the show ( ‘Amish Mafia”) are very up front about being Amish as well as Mennonite and swear on the bible they are holding on camera, that they are in deed born, raised and active Amish and Mennonite that are in good standing with the church.
        I would really like to hear from the person who started this website and invited any an all questions ( see the last statement at the end on the blog). That person originated the Blog ” The Femonite” stated they drive a car, in deed have electricity and travel all over the United States.
        Seems they would have an answer that may help with my understanding of this faith.
        Thanks again for all who were kind enough to reply, however don’t feel I have a better understanding regarding my original questions.

        • Peter Hawley

          Don, you can get all your questions answered @ google. Just type these words in the search box: “Mennonite Church history”. You will see that the Amish separated from the Mennonites in the 16th century, a time when the Roman Catholic church was persecuting anyone who didn’t accept their “pope” or authority by burning people alive, torture and many other forms of barbaric behavior, much like Islamic extremists today. The influence of Satan is clear in both cases. Get to know Jesus to understand the difference in the behavior of repentent humans and wicked ones.

  • Don Erhardt

    I think I’m beginning to understand. I suppose there are people in all Christian faiths that Profess to be followers of Christ and then there are those who truly adhere to the teachings and commands of Jesus. (love, forgiveness, self-control etc.)
    Just because one aligns themselves with a particular church or denomination does not mean they are truly His disciples!

    • Peter Hawley

      Yes, you’ve got it! Remember that even in the very beginning, the disciples got into discussions about rank and after Jesus returned to be with His Father, various fellowships (churches) wanted to identify themselves with Paul & other disciples who were seen as leaders. Paul & others discouraged these tendencies but humans seem to have a need to place men at the fore. The sad result of this is on display throughout history as cult after cult arises, leading many away from God’s Word and into perverted beliefs & practices. This is why I fervently urge all who call on the name of Jesus, to keep Him as the focus of your life.

  • http://gravatar.com/derekgeleynse Derek Geleynse

    I was just googling some stuff about the Mennonite/Amish churches and this blog came up. I come from a traditional Dutch Reformed background and when I started to break away from it, one of the central issues on the table was infant vs. adult baptism (all Reformed churches practice infant baptism, and some make it into a near-salvation issue). When I started asking all the “wrong” questions, the Mennonites came up and I’ve been on the fringe of seriously interested ever since.

    The direction I took doctrinally is unfortunately very different from any mainstream denomination that I know of today. While I do not care to elaborate on this, I do still highly value a lifestyle of simplicity. However, there is only one local Mennonite fellowship where I am from, and if I had never traveled to Missouri and Kansas I would probably never have met or even seen an Amish person in my life.

    My question, however, is this: How adamant are the Mennonites/Amish on doctrinal acceptance to be associated in any or all ways with outsiders. I am very curious about the simple lifestyle and, though I agree that the shunning that the Amish communities typically practice is a little extreme, I doubt that I could accept Mennonite or any other mainstream doctrine from where I am now. Could I still learn from a Mennonite fellowship without becoming one of them, or is it a prerequisite to be open to or accepting of their doctrine in order to learn from the lifestyle?

    If my question is offensive, I do apologize, but please understand that the Dutch-Reformed churches can be rather bigoted about this sort of thing, especially historically. There was a time when something very like the shunning was par for the course in such communities, though they were usually restricted to those with Dutch and/or Reformed heritage or upbringing rather than anything else, and even today, while many communities will not blatantly turn away an outsider, the welcome that any non-Dutch person will receive will not be the same as someone with heritage or background in the Netherlands, and the same goes for Reformed background or upbringing. I could no more go back to the Reformed church today than I could go to the local Jewish synagogue, for to their mind I am a “covenant breaker” because I was baptized as an infant and now reject the doctrine that I was (theoretically) raised in. But I have no affiliation, past or present, with the Mennonite church, and know not where they stand on this sort of thing.

    • Peter Hawley

      Dear Derek, Mennonite (and Amish) came from the anabaptist movement during the Reformation. Non-Catholic Christian leaders of that time recognised that infant baptism was not scripturally supported, nor did it make any sense since baptism is a public confession of faith by an adult who has repented of sins. Babies have no understanding of these matters and the practice was most likely concocted by the corrupt Roman Catholic Church as a means of raising revenue and exercising control over their converts.

      • Sharlet Mariea Tollison Kennedy

        I am not Amish nor Mennonite, however, I have a strong ancestrial background of Amish, Mennonite and Quakers. I belong to a church that teaches the same principles of baptism as do the Amish, Mennonite and Quakers. It is a correct principle.

      • Casey Gee

        Hi, is infant baptism the only thing that caused the riff? My mother (catholic) was told by a Mennonite minister, that the Mennoites broke from the Catholic Church. Mom is 88 and watches Catholic tv all the time. The family jokes that she is “cramming for the final.” Mom now says, Mennoites are Catholics who have strayed.

        • Peter Hawley

          Your dear Mother is an example of how indoctrinated most Catholics are. Sadly, the Roman Catholic church, which didn’t even exist for the first 300 years following Jesus’ resurrection, has taught Catholics that it is the ONLY TRUE CHURCH authorized by Jesus. It was, in fact, just one of many and had become so corrupt because of pagan beliefs and practises, that Martin Luther began the great split by nailing his thesis to the door. The rest of the Christian world, which had always rejected the false teachings & claims of the Roman church escaped the cruel, utterly wicked & barbaric persecution by the Roman church during this reformation period. If any church “strayed”, it was most certainly the Roman Catholic church.

    • Sharlet Mariea Tollison Kennedy

      I also have the same questions regarding how open are Amish or Mennonite people of faith to opening up conversation regarding their life style and/or religious practices. I have as I have said before a heritage rich in Amish, Mennonite and Quaker religions but I know very little about them as I only discovered thru my ancestry search that I had this heritage. I want to know as much as I can about my ancestors from all ages, religious backgrounds etc.

      thank you to anyone willing to share this information with me.

  • Jewels

    Ok so now I’m kind of confused. I have a few questions.
    1.So you guys still use electricity and technology and whatnot?
    2.Do you have to wear dress,skirts,long sleeves,etc?
    3.So you guys do not make your own food, like literally?

    • Jeff

      1. Umm, that’s kind of a weird question to be typing on your keyboard to Mennonites isn’t it, Jewels? Of course Mennonites use technology and electricity! Even primitive Mennonites use technology, because “technology” is basically anything from simple machines to rockets.

      2. Most Mennonite guys I know don’t wear skirts, but some do. Some women do, but it depends how strict their church is about it. There are over 28 different Mennonite denominations, and about 300,000 Mennonites in the US. About 1/3 to 1/2 look like most other Protestant Christians, while the rest look plain in some way, either by wearing skirts or plain clothes.

      3. What kind of a question is this? A lot of Mennonites I know grow their own food in a garden, but most probably use the supermarket too. Even plain groups use grocery stores and Wal-Mart (ironically, it is more liberal groups who would likely not shop at big-box stores).

      • Sharlet Mariea Tollison Kennedy

        Thank you for your Post, Jeff. I always read what people post on here. I did not know there were so many different sects of Mennonites. I wonder what sect my ancestors belonged to but I guess I will never know unfortunately. I am very interested in family history and as I learn more about my ancestors, they become alive to me and I am grateful to them and what I can learn from them by knowing about their lives.

        • Jeff

          Whats more important to know is when you’re family came over and from where. Mennonites are highly decentralized, and most groups settled in particular places at particular times. Russian Mennonites largely came over in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and settled mainly West of the Mississippi. Some Dutch Mennonites came over in the 17th and 18th centuries, and some Swiss Mennonites arrived in the 18th-20th centuries, settling in in large swaths of fertile farmland in rural PA, OH, IN, IL, MD, VA. What were your ancestor’s last names?

          • Sharlet Mariea Tollison Kennedy

            Some of the names are Rebecca Stover born in VA , Barbara Lionberger born in Switzerland, Elizabeth Stricker bornn Milford township, Penn., Barbara Brumbach born in Champaigne Ohio, Nancy Kauffman place of birth unknown, other sir names include: Boone, Stauffer, Kemper, Kauffman, Kneussli, Heistand, Lohner, Landis, Heller, Angst, Niederer, Schoch, Staub,Frischknecht, Schlumpf, Schinz, Neiderer, Brubacher or Bruppacher, Rusterholz, Tanner, Hochstrausser, Angst,. Nearly all of these name were born in Switzerland. They moved to Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania. Some of the names, Stricker, for instance go back to Wadenswil, Zurich, Switzerland in 1325

          • Jeff

            If you’d like to read about your ancestors I can think of some basic books. For a historical summary, a book, “Seeking Places of Peace: A Global Mennonite History” published in 2012 gives a good historical overview of Mennonite Life in North America. Another book, “Jacob’s Choice” uses historical understandings of Mennonite and Amish life to portray an imaginative account of what life might be like for amish settlers in PA in the 18th century. If you’re wanting to explore even more, there is a 4 part series called the Mennonite Experience in America. Book 1 is called, “Land, Piety, and Peoplehood” and talks about early Anabaptist immigrants to North America. This book might give you the best insight about American life for early Mennonites. If you’d like, I can give you some more suggestions of books for Quaker and Mennonite life.

          • Sharlet Mariea Tollison Kennedy

            Jeff, thank you! I would love to have whatever references you have that you have not already provided. It is wonderful that you have these references and are willing to share the information with me. I absolutely love reading about my ancestors whether they be Amish, Mennonite, Quaker or none of the above and have found some very interesting stories that bring all of them to life! Outside of our discussions here regarding the Amish, Mennonite or Quakers is an interesting story that I found recently regarding my 5th Great Grandmother Elizabeth Sholar, my 5th cousin 5 times removed David Dickson and his daughter Amanda America Dickson. There is a book titled “Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege that is the story of her life, while being a slave and yet raised as a member of her white fathers household to inheriting her white fathers estate in a case that went all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court and a 1997 made for showtime movie called “A House Divided” that can be viewed on Youtube. Also the story of John Napier, my 12th great grandfather born in 1515 who invented logarithms and made common the use of the decimal system. These histories help us realize that our ancestors were real people with real lives, challenges and joys like we experience today and also give insight to why our families have certain traditions, beliefs and faith among many other experiences we have that have a basis in history. One of the things I do is to cook with the same old iron spoon my grandmother used to stir the constant pot of pinto beans she kept cooking to feed her family of 12 children. That old spoon is such a treasure and reminder of her love and frugality. I know consider you to be another great treasure I have found. You ask me for some of the names of my ancestors who were either Amish or Mennonite. I sent them to you in a previous post. Did you get it?

          • Jeff

            Thanks for the kind words, Sharlet. I saw your post above, but I unfortunately couldn’t make any connections.

  • Kasey gee

    Hi, I am working for a development company and we are going into a rural area that has a large Mennonite population. The community is very much supportive of this development, with several of our landowners being Mennonite. We are going to be more active in the community and i have already made a huge blunder. I organized a supper and did not allow time for grace or giving thanks before the meal. I also saw that some of our team was perceived as untrustworthy, based on appearance and attire. One comment was that the women on our team were too flashy and one presenter was too aggressive in his speech pattern. Another comment was that we tried too hard to be too familiar too soon by complimenting the children and conversing with their mothers. I do nit want to offend the community or the teamt, but feel we should learn how to be good neighbours. Are there any rules we should follow in order to avoid offending the community?

    • Jeff

      If you’re working with the development team, I assume you’re there for the long-haul. I think that’s especially important for people in the community. I think it’s important to be yourselves – if you change your appearance for them or anything that comes across as manipulating, and I think they will see through that. I think that’s simply being a good business person. Rural America is skeptical of slick business types coming in in power suits and expensive blazers ready to get a deal done. Wear some browns and you’ll come across more honest; you don’t need to impress them. That’s business 101 in middle America. Some of the wealthiest Mennonites might not look rich at all; they’re not impressed by appearances of wealth.

      In terms of being culturally sensitive, know that Mennonites would relate well to people who are honest and open, like themselves. I’m assuming you’re relating to a conservative Mennonite community. If so, take time to know you’re neighbors and ask some of the local members about their community – you’ll likely get honest feedback about their own patterns, traditions, and beliefs. Know that Mennonites, especially conservative ones, might come across as naive, but they’re likely just skeptical of your lifestyle. Some of the basic tenets of the faith are simplicity, modesty, honesty, and community. Faith is important, but isn’t likely verbalized unless its during a prayer before a meal. Make no mistake though, Faith is central to the community. Unlike most people in the US, Mennonites and Amish care about each other as a community; so people decide things as a group. A bible verse says, “wherever two or three are gathered…” so they believe the Spirit works and is tested as a community. If workers were talking with children and mothers, are you complimenting them on their looks? Amish and Mennonites who dress plain do so in order to highlight other virtues: a good work ethic, a patient attitude, or other inner qualities. Mennonites in general are also terrible at taking compliments; we will likely stammer or blush or ignore the compliment – if you do compliment them, make sure it’s true and is not anything superficial, but is about their character.

      Lastly, for respect their beliefs. don’t have your workers challenge Mennonite beliefs or ask them if they know pop-culture things. Some might know these things, but don’t make it a point to judge them because they don’t look, act or dress like modern Americans. It’s offensive to ask any questions that are all variations of “Why aren’t you folks normal, like everyone else?” As if every other American looks and dresses alike. It wouldn’t hurt to have a couple of you take cultural sensitivity training and using what you’ve learned to ask the community better questions and earn their trust.

      • Kasey gee

        What a wonderfully thoughtful and sensitive reply. This is most helpful, Jeff, thank you.

  • Jane

    Please email me at the address below. I have an email to send to you for some advice and would appreciate your time.

    Thank you so much, Jane

  • daisy

    hi!
    i came across this blog in hopes of being less ignorant to the Mennonite and Amish.
    i got in a bit of an argument with someone on Instagram who posted a picture of what we thought to be Amish people inside a Jerrys subs and pizza.
    i told her that it is against Amish religion to have their pictures taken.
    she claimed they were not “true amish” because they were wearing name brand shoes.

    can you clarify?

    • Jennie

      Im not Hannah, but the way I understand it, the Amish can have a picture taken, if its during day to day life, and not ‘posed for’ because it is considered a graven image, as well as prideful.

    • Tracy M

      I’m not Mennonite or Amish, but I live in Cleveland where I see people walk up to Amish at the zoo and the air show and take photos the way you would of, well, animals at the zoo. It find that so rude. At least be a little discreet. Found these guidelines which back up Jennie’s post. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/amish-faq/

      And yes, you see Amish or traditional Mennonites in all sorts of places in Ohio, including unexpected ones.

  • Jennie

    Hannah, Thank you so much for posting this.
    So would you say, if I have felt a desire to turn to an ‘amish way of life’ but am reluctant to give up my car and electricity, would you say the Mennonite church would be a good fit for me? I am already christian. I just want to get out of the ‘city church’ style of faith, and into the close and personal style.

  • Lou Ann

    I enjoyed this! God bless you.

  • matti

    My husband and I wanted to join the Mennonite Church in our area. We were told by them that we were not allowed because we had both been married before. This was very disappointing to us. I feel they are being judgemental. Also, they say everyone should be a member of a church..but they will not allow us. We are welcome to go to the services, send our kids to there school but not join the Church. Doesn’t that seem mean and unforgiving – a bit hipocritical?

    • Peter Hawley

      They are simply trying to uphold their understanding of the written Word. You must remember that YOU are responsible for your choices in life, but if you repent before the Lord of any sins, You are forgiven! Your relationship with God is much more important than which group of Christian believers you worship with.

      • Sharlet Mariea Tollison Kennedy

        If they have been forgiven and washed clean, then clean means clean and they should not be subjected to having to relive the sin by be ostracized by the church.

    • Sharlet Mariea Tollison Kennedy

      Absolutely. Your past marital relationships should have no bearing. I think they should know and then consider the nature of your divorce before just saying no. What if the prior marriage was abusive? Would they expect you to stay married? They should really consider the circumstances rather than have a pat one fits all answer.
      I find this appalling!

      • Jeffrey

        Join the Catholic Church! :) We will accept you!

        • http://suzyjacobsoncherry.blogspot.com/ Suzy Cherry

          Well, actually, my husband wanted to become a Catholic, and though they were perfectly amenable to him being married to a female clergy of another denomination, they told he both he and I would have to contact our ex-spouses and have our previous marriages annulled. That is not acceptance, either. In addition, the Roman Catholic Church does not allow non-Catholics to take communion with them, though we could walk up to the priest for a blessing. This is not open acceptance, either.

  • Stephanie

    Hi my name is Stephanie, i am seventeen years old and am currently in grade eleven. I go to a Catholic school (I am not Catholic what so ever)but, i do attend a religion class. We are studying world religions and I chose to research Mennonite. Can you please expand on your daily life as a Mennonite? Like what to do you usually wear, how often do you go to church, do you read the Bible or another scripture etc. It would be greatly appreciated because I keep researching, but there is so many types of Mennonite and they all keep telling me different things.

    • VeggieLady

      Hello Stephanie! I’m not the author of this article but I am a Mennonite. As you have found,there are several different variations, from old-world, Amish-Mennonites/Beachy (there are several conferences with slightly different practices), conservative-evangelical (no head-covering), to MC-USA (the largest and assimilated) etc. etc. If your paper is concentrating on Amish-Mennonites or more traditional groups (guessing because your asking about clothing, church practices etc). it is ALL in the Bible. Right down to the head-covering, holy kiss and footwashing and even daily life. Your best bet would be to attend one of the services with your parents, or pick a couple in your area. See for yourself and ask questions. I have never seen a Mennonite church which was not open to visitors :) If not, again, its in the Bible (not kidding you:) ). God bless you.

  • Kayla

    ld llo,you have a very intriguing article! What really brought here through some intense research on the Mennonite religion. Really, only because I fancy a boy from my high school in this religion. He’s a rather shy fellow and doesn’t branch out often. So, it surprised me when he was first to approach. We had one class together and we talked Whenever it was appropriate. Buy, besides that, I still don’t know a lot about him. So, I’m wondering what is the lifestyle of a teenage Mennonist is like? Is there a reason he’s not involved in school activities? Would he be able to date or hang out with someone non-Mennonite, let alone date? Hang out with the opposite gender? What is the dress code for young men in this religion? As a Mennonite, how do you feel about other religions? And, how did you end up meeting Justin?
    Thank you, it’s kinda a long list :)

  • Daniel Murphy

    Hello, I just today, had my first encounter with a family of Mennonites. At least I suspect they were, based on the fact they arrived in a van. The patriarch was clad in dark, understated attire, with a long full beard and hat that appeared to be made from a straw like material. Mom was dressed in a long simple dark gray skirt and plain black coat. She and her daughter both wore white linen bonnets, covering most of their hair. The couple had three children (two boys and daughter) all dressed similarly, ranging from about ten to seventeen.
    I felt it would have been impolite to inquire as to whether they were Amish or Mennonite. Am I correct in my assumption?

    • Dixie

      Your assumption is incorrect. Most conservative Menno’s would welcome the inquiry. Some are shy but approached with respect they will respond positively.

  • Cynthia

    Hi Hannah,

    What a fascinating article you have written for your blog that is still getting response and readership after a little over two years of having been written. Congratulations! I truly appreciate reading your article and most of the comments. In fact I have had to quit before I’ve read it all for the night so I could go to bed. I am writing this response before I have finished reading just to let you know how much I love what you are doing. And, if I am duplicating any body else’s words, my apologies. I have learned so much. Thank you. Thank you! For your time and sharing.

    The part that caught my attention the most, is in your denomination of Mennonites, you have many groups with a diversity of traditions practiced while maintaining common beliefs. In that, I have to laugh, because the same holds true in the Lutheran denominations (which I belong). We have many synod’s, with a very different approaches to worship, practices and even some who have opinions on lifestyles, while we staunchly hold onto the idea that Lutherans emphasize Grace (in many of it’s definitions) as Christians.

    We share a lot of commonalities, a sense of community, we have our own political issue within our local church, but also in the synod wide church body. Being a Lutheran has brought on some pretty weird questions from those not familiar with Lutherans, especially from those in non-denominational churches. There are those who have experienced the very strict, no women leadership, no dancing, no drinking (odd, since Martin Luther him self was a notorious imbiber of beer and wine and bawdy conversation for the 1400′s) aspects of being a Lutheran and those from a completely different backgrounds. Albeit they are mostly of the older senior generation, but I love them the most. They tell wonderful stories of what it was like for them. Lutheran are a very social conscience group as well with a lot of involvement in world wide missionaries as well as local issues. Helping the homeless, supplying school supplies, layettes for newborn babies of our congregation and those in the community.

    I could go on, but my point being is this. This is wonderful. I strongly believe that we don’t all have to come to the table of God wearing one color and all doing the exact same things. Christ died on the cross for all of us…….not just Lutherans, not just Mennonites, not Baptist’s. I suppose that is part of the Grace that folks get tripped up on. I think we would all do better if we could at least understand how different denominations practice their traditions and beliefs and focus more on what the commonalities are and where they will feel comfortable to ask questions and feel welcomed even after the hard questions. It hurts me to see and hear such sharp criticism when one goes left instead of right or doesn’t inject Christ name at the expected times. God has a long history going all the way back to the first few pages of the Bible of using sinners to for His Purposes. We would all do better, remembering that, I believe.

    Again,I want to thank you for giving me a window into the lives of Mennonites.

    God Bless You,
    Cynthia

    PS I will be following your blog and will continue to read the rest of the comments.

  • Alex

    So I just discovered Mennonites and they sound like really chilled out people. Question though, are Mennonites accepting of technology and okay with strangers popping up with a camera to take a picture or video? So far Mennonites are really cool to me!

    • jayne190

      Depends on how strict they are. As far as I am aware, most Mennonites are fairly accepting of technology and have tablets, cell phones, cars, laptops, TVs, etc. just your average North American or Western European would have.

  • Rachel

    Well this helped clear up some questions I always had about Mennonites, and I am a Mennonite lol I live in a small Canadian town that’s constantly growing and changing, and bringing different types of people to meet, and I can honestly say that in almost every way; many of us are not so different from them! But there are also many that are more conservative Mennonites and do not always get along with the newer type of Mennonites and/or the English people that have moved here and would’ve preferred that our town had stayed the way it was 50 years ago. Personally, for myself being of the younger generation, I think that there is absolutely nothing wrong with interacting or marrying people who are not Mennonites, because if they share the same faith as you and love you for who you are, isn’t that what really matters?

  • http://www.behalt.com Lester Beachy

    I am a member of the amish church and I would be glad to answer any questions. You c an write to Me at 3468 TR 166 Sugarcreek,Oh 44681

  • Christine Waterbury

    I would like to have a conservative Mennonite female penpal in Wi.

  • http://google. lisa sipes

    hi I was wanting to know what do the amish do to the children when they ha developmential disabillitys do the parents send the baby away?

    • Herbert Reed

      Amish view all children as a gift from God and care for them as best they can.

  • Tom

    I was wondering if Mennonites refer to non-Mennonites as “English” the way the Amish do, so I Googled “do Mennonites refer to outsiders as English.” Apparently Google is none to familiar with anabaptist sects either since ALL of the responses contained the word “amish” (although it was not in the query) and yours was the ONLY response that contained the word “Mennonite.”

    • jayne190

      As a Mennonite myself, I can say that we don’t refer to non-Mennonites as “English”, at least from where I am from. In fact, a lot of Mennonites would probably be considered to be “English” because of our adoption of technology, our way of dress, etc.

  • Pingback: I’m Mennonite, Not Amish: 7 Common Questions | Visit PA Dutch Country

  • Nicole

    i have been Mennonite for my whole life and i dont understand why people who make fun of me like they do. they have no respect. i had people yanking on my dress and everything!

  • http://suzyjacobsoncherry.blogspot.com/ Suzy Cherry

    Oh, Hannah, my friend and dear classmate! What an interesting can of something you’ve opened up here! I graduated from high school in the midst of Amish country in PA. I dated a Mennonite guy who was in my homeroom that year. He was a little younger than me, and I was just getting to vote that year, so he wanted me to vote the way he would have. He was even more innocent than I was, and in those days, that was pretty innocent. I think it was age more than church affiliation, though. That year, I took a local history class, and of course the Amish and Mennonite movements were covered, as well as the Moravian. It was extremely interesting to me. We had a guest speaker who was an ex-Amish who was shunned for speaking up about something he didn’t agree with related to pacifism. Also, my sister and I partied with two young Amish brothers, one of whom had gone through rumspringa and decided he liked the “outside” world better, and his younger brother was in his rumspringa period. I think he was more likely to go back, although I don’t know. We went to Philadelphia with them for a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert at the Spectrum. (Anyone from PA can figure out that it was a very long time ago, since the Spectrum is no longer, I understand.) Anyway. I am not really answering anyone’s questions, but I can say that in the time I lived in the middle of Amish country, I never once saw an “Amish Mafia” bomb a barn.

  • Steve

    Hello,
    I attended a Mennonite wedding over the weekend and have questions about the bonnets the women were wearing. Most wore white pleated bonnets but some had strings and others didn’t. What is the difference? They were of differnet ages and some with husbands and others single. Also, there were women with a small black bonnet that was covered by a scarf that was removed when they left the church. Finally, there were women with just white scarf type coverings. Please explain

  • Steve

    Hello,
    I attended a Mennonite wedding over the weekend and have questions about the bonnets the women were wearing. Most wore white pleated bonnets but some had strings and others didn’t. What is the difference? They were of differnet ages and some with husbands and others single. Also, there were women with a small black bonnet that was covered by a scarf that was removed when they left the church. Finally, there were women with just white scarf type coverings. Please explain

    • MennoSimons

      Hi Steve. It really depends on several factors and I’d need to know more info to know for sure: What was the nearest town where it occurred? I’d also need to know what kind of Mennonite they called themselves. For either of those, it’s probably most helpful to simply ask your connection to the wedding.

  • Fossilhund

    I am Lutheran with an interesting background. My Mother was raised Catholic due to an Irish Catholic mother. Oddly her father was a Norwegian American Quaker. I ended up Lutheran because my dad’s mother’s family was German Lutheran. What relationship do Mennonites have with any of these groups?

    • MennoSimons

      Mennonites were born out of the Church of the Reformation, so early Anabaptists would have either been Catholic or Lutheran in Europe. There have been ecumenical conversations between Mennonites and the other groups you mention. Probably the closest relationship would be between Quakers and Mennonites. Although not affiliated, they have combined to stand up for conscientious objectors in the 20th Century. Mennonites and Quakers share a similar Peace witness, believing that believers are called to be nonviolent and practice reconciliation.

  • Lou

    Do Mennonites think Amish, Catholics, Lutherans, Mormons, Jewish, Muslim, etc will got to hell? How strict are the “only our kind go to heaven” is it in the Mennonite societies? And do you know if Amish feel Mennonites will go to hell?