Just What The Heck ARE You, Anyway?
A.C. Kleinheider, lazy man that he is, asks me the $64K question:
What is a Mennonite anyway?
So here's the more-information-than-anyone-needed answer, which I've moved out of the comments section, because if I spend more than five minutes on it, it's a full post.
1. Mennonites are Christians.
We believe in the diety of Jesus, His death, resurrection, and atonenent for sins. Our doctrinal beliefs are very similar to Baptists in most respects.
2. Mennonites are Anabaptists
Mennonites are one of the sects of protestantism that sprung up to advocate adult baptism. Other Anabaptist sects are the various Baptist churches, The Campbell Church of Christ and our much-noticed cousins, the Amish.
3. Mennonites are Pacifists
Like the Quakers, Mennonites are considered one of the Peace Churches. Don't ask me how I reconcile my support for the Iraq war with my Mennonism, because it is a long and complicated story that involves my ultimate decision to believe that there are some things worth dying for. And those things would include the freedom for people in other countries to worship as they choose. My Anabaptist ancestors were historical martyrs to their faith. I feel that it dishonors part of the spirit of our faith if we are willing to die for creed but not for kin.
4. Mennonites believe in The Church In Action
You will see spontaneous and organized charity from Mennonites, as we believe the best practices of charity are in helping our kin. Many other churches believe in what is commonly called "storehouse tithing". That's where you give your tithe to whatever church you attend which that church then spends as it sees fit. Mennonites believe that any gift to anyone in need is the basis of the true practice of tithing. Many Mennonites don't even meet in a church building, electing to instead spend the building money on outreach.
5. There are several different types of Mennonite.
Old-order Mennonites are often confused with Amish, because they have similar Plain ways. ("Plain" in this context means the rejection of modern conveniences and styles of dress.)
I am an Evangelical Mennonite, which (oddly enough) was once refered to as "Egly Amish", since we got our start from a dude named Henry Egly, who founded the "Defenseless Mennonites" in Berne, Indiana. So, we're enough like the Amish in our beliefs as to have carried that nickname for a hundred years or so. We've elected, however, to not adopt the Plain tenets of other Mennonites.
6. Mennonites differ from Catholics
From what I know of Catholicism, the main difference is of course our belief in Adult Baptism by immersion versus infant sprinkling. We also disagree with Papal Authority, the Bishopric system of the Catholic Church and the focus on the Church Edifice.
7. Mennonites Know How To Cook
There's no way anyone will go to a Mennonite gathering and come away hungry. If you walk away hungry, we've not done our duty to show you the Lord's gift of Hospitality. It's a cultural thing that often involves chicken, pie, scrapple, hot potato salad corn and cheese.
8. Mennonites Are All Over The World
but they are sparse in Nashville. The one we attended met only in the evening so that the few members would be able to have their children meet with youth groups at larger churches on Sunday morning.
Tim and I now attend First Baptist simply because we felt the call to a downtown church with an active ministry on all levels.
I hope that answered some questions. Ask away if there are others.
At least I blogged about more than Gay Hobbits today.