Who Are Mennonites?
First Mennonite Church is part of the denominational family of Mennonite Church USA and the global family of faith represented by the Mennonite World Conference.
The Mennonite stream of Christianity derives its name from the Dutch pastor and church leader Menno Simons (1496-1561). Mennonites around the world are remarkably diverse in theology and practice, but are often unified by:
- trying to follow Jesus in every area of life
- placing a high value on relationship and community
- a commitment to peace through nonviolent action
- choosing a simple lifestyle
These core values are traced to the Anabaptist movement of 16th century Germany and Switzerland, which grew out of the broader Protestant Reformation in continental Europe. Contemporary historian Palmer Becker describes Anabaptists as those for whom “Jesus is the center of our faith; community is the center of our lives; and reconciliation is the center of our work” (read more: “What is an Anabaptist Christian?” by Palmer Becker). The teachings and Spirit of Jesus are the focal point of these convictions.
Denominations belonging to Mennonite World Conference share seven core faith convictions (see right column).
Today’s Mennonites seek to follow Jesus in the pursuit of peace, justice, and reconciliation. First Mennonite Church actively supports:
- the international “relief, development, and peace” mission of Mennonite Central Committee
- the peacemaking work of Christian Peacemaker Teams
- the fair trade mission of Ten Thousand Villages
- and is a member of the Supportive Communities Network of the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests
For more information about Mennonites, check out these resources:
- Anabaptist World Inc. (AW) is an independent journalistic ministry serving the global Anabaptist movement and publishes a monthly news magazine, Anabaptist World.
- Third Way, a resource page about Mennonites around the world
- the vision of Mennonite Church USA
- and MCUSA organizations like Mennonite Mission Network, Mennonite Disaster Service, and MennoMedia (MCUSA’s publishing wing)
Seven Shared Convictions of Global Anabaptists
(1) God is known to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Creator who seeks to restore fallen humanity by calling a people to be faithful in fellowship, worship, service and witness.
(2) Jesus is the Son of God. Through his life and teachings, his cross and resurrection, he showed us how to be faithful disciples, redeemed the world, and offers eternal life.
(3) As a church, we are a community of those whom God’s Spirit calls to turn from sin, acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, receive baptism upon confession of faith, and follow Christ in life.
(4) As a faith community, we accept the Bible as our authority for faith and life, interpreting it together under Holy Spirit guidance, in the light of Jesus Christ to discern God’s will for our obedience.
(5) The Spirit of Jesus empowers us to trust God in all areas of life so we become peacemakers who renounce violence, love our enemies, seek justice, and share our possessions with those in need.
(6) We gather regularly to worship, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and to hear the Word of God in a spirit of mutual accountability.
(7) As a world-wide community of faith and life we transcend boundaries of nationality, race, class, gender and language. We seek to live in the world without conforming to the powers of evil, witnessing to God’s grace by serving others, caring for creation, and inviting all people to know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
Adopted by Mennonite World Conference, General Council, 15 March 2006