Who are the Mennonites? What do Mennonites believe?
This page is designed especially for those in our community who might have questions about our church. While this is not a comprehensive guide to all Mennonite beliefs and practices, it may help you to understand who we are a little better.
In general, Mennonites are Christians, followers of Jesus Christ. Mennonite is simply a denomination of the larger Christian Church. The Mennonite denomination began in Europe in the 1500’s, and was named after one of their early prominent leaders, Menno Simons. As people who love the Lord Jesus, we strive to teach and apply the words of the Holy Bible to our everyday lives.
While Mennonites across the U.S. and the World vary widely in their views, the following describes the basic beliefs held by the Bradford Mennonite Church.
The link above contains the 1963 Mennonite Confession of Faith, the official statement of beliefs adopted by Bradford Mennonite Church. Please note that this does not contain the Supplements which our church has added to this document. For a complete copy, you may email us on the contact page.
Mennonite Beliefs, Background, and FAQs
Sometimes you might hear Mennonites use the term Anabaptist (meaning re-baptizer) in referring to themselves. This was term was given to the 16th century Christians in Europe who, objecting to the Catholic practice of infant baptism, re-baptized adults who confessed their faith in Christ. In 1536, a former Catholic priest named Menno Simons joined the Anabaptist movement, and his followers became nicknamed Mennonites. The early Anabaptists were severely persecuted for their view on baptism and other issues. Many eventually fled to America to escape persecution. Today, there are a number of subgroups of Anabaptists, including Mennonites, Amish, Beachy, Brethren, Church of God In Christ (Holdeman), and others.
Q: Do Mennonites live in separate communities or compounds?
A: No. The majority of Mennonites live in houses which are much like the rest of society’s. Some people may confuse Mennonites with groups such as the Hutterites, who do have separate communities.
Q: What is that “thing” the women wear on their heads?
A: It is called a prayer veiling or a head covering. Styles vary among Mennonite groups, but all are for the purpose of following the instructions the Bible gives in I Corinthians 11:2-16. According to this Scripture, the veil symbolizes God’s order of headship and is to be worn while praying and prophesying. For more information on this, click here to reference our Confession of Faith.
Q: Do Mennonites baptize their babies?
A: No. Mennonites practice “believer’s baptism”; that is, they baptize only when the person has expressed that they have begun a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and are committed to following Him. We believe that if a child is not yet old enough to understand and embrace the Christian faith (i.e., the age of accountability), he would still go to Heaven if he dies. For our official statement on baptism, click here.
Q: What is the difference between Amish and Mennonites?
A: Often people confuse Mennonites with the Amish. While Old Order Mennonites live much like the Amish, the vast majority of Mennonites are more integrated into modern culture than the Amish. For example, most Mennonites drive cars, use modern machinery to do work, and have electric and modern appliances in their homes. Mennonites do not use the practice of shunning, a commonly used course of discipline in the Amish church for those who have erred or left the church.
Mennonites and Amish do have common roots. In 1693, a man named Jakob Ammann led a group in Switzerland who separated from the Mennonites. His followers became known as Amish. Although today Mennonites and Amish have distinct differences, they do share some beliefs and practices in common, such as non-resistance (abstinence from participating in violence and war).
Q: What book do Mennonites base their beliefs on and use in their Worship Services?
A: Our church bases our beliefs from the Holy Bible. We believe the Bible is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We normally use the King James Version in our services. Bradford Mennonite Church ascribes to The 1963 Mennonite Confession of Faith, which is meant to merely reflect in writing what we believe the Bible teaches us about Christian living and Doctrine. See the Preamble and Article 2 of the Confession of Faith.
Q: Do Mennonites celebrate Christmas?
A: Yes. Christmas is a very special time for us to remember Christ’s birth. Our church (as well as most Mennonite groups) often go Christmas Caroling in a nursing home or elsewhere in the community, and families may exchange a few gifts. The church may have a special Christmas Program or Service. However, we try not to get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas such as buying extravagant gifts or setting up elaborate decorations. We generally try to keep our Christmas celebrations simple in order to keep our focus on the true meaning of Christmas — Christ’s birth!
Q: Can anyone visit Bradford Mennonite Church?
A: Absolutely! Sometimes people are afraid to come because they won’t be dressed up enough or aren’t sure what to expect. While we normally wear something similar to casual business attire for our services, our visitors do not need to feel like they must dress like we do to be welcome. If you only have casual wear, by all means, do not let that stop you from visiting us!