Mennonites began during the 16th century Protestant Reformation in Europe and are nicknamed after an early Dutch leader, Menno Simmons. Believers overcame persecution, martyrdom and death as the movement spread throughout Germany and the Netherlands.
The official churches opposed the movement and scoffed at them as “Anabaptizers”, which literally means rebaptizers. Governments would not tolerate this change because it defied the state-run-church; in spite of the Anabaptists’ powerful use of scripture in support of their position.
A separate group, the Amish, broke off about 1693, in search of religions freedom, Mennonites moved to many places, including Russia and North America. Home and overseas missions began in the late 1800?s and the church extension ministries expanded in the post-war era. Today, some one million members are found in sixty countries.
In sixteenth Century Europe, Menno Simmons articulated in writing the beliefs of the christian Anabaptists, within the Protestant Reformation. These Anabaptists faced persecution in Europe and fled eventually to settle in North America. Now, more than 1.5 million Mennonites are found world-wide.
The central ideology that caused this persecution was adult baptism, and adherence to non-violence. These ideologies were based in the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ.