A Peace Church
Mennonites believe that a basic part of the good news of Jesus is peace. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that “pacifist” is one of the first things people think about when they think of Mennonites. Mennonites want to put into practice Jesus’ teaching, “Love your enemies.”
Is that possible? Doesn’t the Old Testament include lots of gruesome stories of God’s people at war? Do you have to be a pacifist to be a Mennonite?
The Mennonite Church is a historic peace church that grew out of the Protestant Reformation in Europe in the early 1500s. A small group of reformers felt the New Testament taught that church should be separate from state. They believed their ultimate loyalty was to God and that Jesus’ disciples should follow his example and put away the sword. They also believed people should voluntarily follow Christ through adult baptism, rather than being baptized into the state church as infants. Thousands of these Anabaptists (“rebaptizers”) were persecuted and martyred during the next two generations.
Menno Simons converted to Anabaptism in 1536, in the Netherlands. He traveled throughout northwestern Europe, preaching and writing. Eventually, many Anabaptists came to be called Mennonites. For more history of Mennonites, see Who are the Mennonites? and Anabaptist Seed