#1 Why Do Mennonites Say ‘Once?’
Commonly pronounced by Anabaptist groups as ‘wonst’ the term ‘once’ is extensively used as part of their dialect and vocabulary.
The reasons why Mennonites often say ‘once’ are:
- It means ‘in the future, soon, imminently.’
- It can also be substituted for the term ‘please.’
- It can be seen as a general statement for polite intentions.
- It is often used in the context of a favor being asked ‘at once.’
- It can mean ‘forgive me’
- It honors their historic roots and encompasses their culture.
These reasons can be summarized as – It is useful for general politeness and referring to the present tense.
- “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” – Hebrews 9:27
- The Sound of Mennonite Low German Dialect; August 19th, 2020.
#2 Why Do Mennonites Wear Head Coverings?
The reasons why Mennonite women wear head coverings and bonnets are:
- The Bible says so (see scriptures below)
- To remain modest
- To abstain from premarital sex
- To avoid tempting men who are not one’s husband
- Cultural pressure
- Historical reverence
- 1 Corinthians 11:12-16 – “2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved.6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.”
- “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,”
– 1 Timothy 2:9.
- “But if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.” – 1 Corinthians 11:15.
#3 Why Did Mennonites Go to Canada?
The main reasons that Mennonites escapes England to America and then fled America to Canada – were to outrun persecution, oppression, and obligatory war drafting.
Today, more than 200,000 Mennonites reside in Canada.
As pacifistic Christians that believe in non-violent approaches to compromise,Mennonite males did not want to fight in wars. Since the birth of the religion in the 1500s, Mennonites in Russia were outrunning war throughout the early 16th century.
Mennonites went to Canada in multiple spurts between 1786 and 1950s because:
- It appeared to be a promise-land
- Canada offered guaranteed exemption from military services
- Mennonites did not want to fight in the American Revolution (surge of immigrants from Pennsylvania during the 18th century)
- Mennonites did not want to fight in World War I (surge of immigrants in the 20th century)
- Mennonites did not want to fight in World War II (surge of immigrants from 1940s to 1950s)
- Canada offered educational and religious autonomy
- History and Immigration of Mennonites Into Canada 1786 to 1950s – “There are many groups of Canadian Mennonites. Until 1999, the three largest groups were the Mennonite Church, The General Conference of Mennonites and the Mennonite Brethren. Those who were part of the Mennonite Church were mainly from Swiss and South German areas and had migrated from Pennsylvania and Europe. The General Conference of Mennonites were people who had migrated from Russia and northern Germany after 1870, in the 1920s and after World War II. The third group is the Mennonite Brethren who were also from Russia and had organized their conference (in Russia) in the 1860s. They came in the same migrations as the General Conference Mennonites. In 1999, the General Conference Mennonites and the Mennonite Church integrated and formed Mennonite Church Canada. There are also many more conservative Mennonite groups from Ontario to British Columbia, and Old Order Amish groups in Ontario.”
- Mennonites of St. Jacobs, Ontario, Canada; Virtual Canada; January 3rd, 2008.
#4 Why Do Mennonites Not Use Electricity?
Contrarily, Mennonites are one of the only Anabaptist denominations that do condone the use of modern technology and electricity in most communities. Mennonites have phones, drive cars, and enjoy minimal uses of electricity.
The reasons that a Mennonite group may reject electricity would include:
- They are Old Order Mennonites – A group of Swiss-German Mennonites that live without technology
- They are less progressive than general Mennonite communities
- They are honoring historical linkages
- They eschew the modern world
- They are seeking to protect their community from temptations of advanced society
- They are in a part of the world that does not have convenient access to electricity (such as Brazil, Latin America, Mexico, and isolated parts of Europe/Asia)
Ultimately, most Mennonites do use marginal electricity. If a Mennonite member does not use electricity, they are likely an Old Order Mennonite.
Others argue that if a non-Old Order Mennonite leader prevents his community from having access to electricity – it is done in their best interest. If a leader believes the electricity would threaten his society, he may reject its adverse effects. Even if other Mennonite communities have access to electricity, one leader may feel his community could be weakened by it, not wanting to risk exposing them to too much modern-influence. It can all depend on how much that community’s leader trusts his disciples to not get swept up by the contemporary lifestyle.
- “The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.” – Psalm 116:6.
- The Mennonites – A Trip Back in Time; DW Documentary; June 25th, 2020.
#5 Why Do Mennonites Wear Bonnets?
Most significantly, Mennonite females wear bonnets because they harbor a literal translation of scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 11:5:
“But every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head since it is the same as if her head were shaven.”
1 Corinthians 11:15 continues:
“But if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.”
Because of this –
Mennonite women wear bonnets because they feel they are following God’s explicit orders.
- “Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?” – 1 Corinthians 11:13.
- How Sewing and Religion Intersect – A Mennonite Story; CBC Docs; June 29th, 2020.
#6 Why Do Mennonites Drive Cars?
Mennonites do not reject certain modern advancements, such as a motorized vehicle. Some Mennonites retain a horse-drawn carriage for short-distance purposes; however, most Mennonites rely predominantly on their vehicle.
Mennonites drive cars because:
- They’ve accepted a more liberal approach to separating from the modern world (as compared to their similar/Anabaptist faith, the Amish, who have outwardly rejected the use of vehicles and electricity).
- They still use minimal electricity (common for a Mennonite to own a car and have a phone, but less common for one to own a television or other non-essential luxuries).
- They find no issue with car ownership; it does not distract them from worship or threaten their congregation.
The main reason that the Amish reject car ownership is to protect their sheltered communities from the comforts of public society.
Therefore, it can be concluded that Mennonites do not shelter their communities from these conveniences because they trust them to handle modern enticements without succumbing to them.
Still seeking to remain humble, plain, and modest – Mennonite cars are typically black and conformist.
- “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” – Galatians 6:7.
- No adequate results for Mennonites driving, but the Amish are consistently recognized for complicating the flow of transportation; Transportation.ohio.gov – Amish Safety; April 9th, 2020. Mennonites are less likely to drive a horse and carriage than an Amish person.
#7 Why Are Mennonites Congregated in Mexico?
Mennonites are known for their distinctive proclivity to immigrating. There are approximately 100,00 Mennonites in Mexico today.
Often immigrating in the name of escaping war – Mennonites traveled through Switzerland, Germany, Russia, America, Canada, and eventually immigrated to Mexico after World War I.
The first establishments were founded in Chihuahua by Canadian immigrants (1922). Five years later, the Mennonite population in Mexico had nearly tripled and began to spread out to Durango and Guanajuato (1927).
The reasons why Mennonites congregated in Mexico are:
- They wanted to escape war drafting
- They wanted a place that was rich in fertile soil for farmland
- They were leaving the frigid terrain of Canada
- They were seeking a home for spiritual tolerance
- They sought religious freedom
Today, 1,500 Mennonites live in a small community outside of Chihuahua, predominantly focused on agriculture, cattle ranching, and cheese production.
- Mexican Mennonites Combat Fears of Violence with a New Christmas Tradition; December 11th, 2019.
- BBC.co.uk – Intimate Portrait of Mexico’s Mennonite Community; January 19th, 2012.
#8 Why Are Mennonites Congregated in Belize?
Mennonites began immigrating to Belize only recently in history. After finding safety in Mexico after World War I (1915-1920), Mennonites began moving to Believe between 1955-1960.
The reasons why Mennonites immigrated and now congregate in Belize are:
- For the same reasons they’ve always moved – to find peace and religious autonomy
- To spread out on fertile land for farming, still remaining close to the equator
- To promote pacifism
- To find separation of Church and State
- To avoid drafting
- To live sustainably
- To live without interference
- Grand Bay Men write about the History of Mennonites in Belize:
“Belize is truly a melting pot of cultures including Mayan, Spanish, Garifuna, English, East Indian, Chinese, and Mennonite.
Many people are surprised to hear that Belize is home to a thriving Mennonite population of over 10,000 of Russian descent. Approximately 2,000 Mennonites are converts from local communities.
The first Mennonites came to Belize in 1957 as part of a diplomatic mission. These Mennonites, who emigrated from various Canadian locations, came to Belize (British Honduras) from Chihuahua, Mexico, where they had been living for many years.”
- Belize – Mennonites; AP Archive Documentary; July 21st, 2015.
#9 Why Are Mennonites Called ‘Nappers?’
There is not much to explain here. Mennonites are called nappers as an urban slang term that refers to their commonly falling asleep in Church. Some say it relates to the ‘boringness’ of the sermon, of a lack of physical activity. Regardless, Mennonites are called nappers because they quite literally nap often.
Canadianmennonite.org supports this by adding:
“Some people are “nappers” and will nap in just about any setting.”
Do note – This is not an entirely common phrase, and some theologist fanatics and Mennonite members will state in forums, ‘I’ve never heard the term ‘napper’ used.’
#10 Why Are Mennonites Pacifists?
Pacifism is a cornerstone to the belief system behind the Mennonite culture.
The reasons why Mennonites are pacifistic are:
- They believe God commands it.
- They do not want to do harm onto others.
- Matthew 5:9 says, “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
- The Bible also says do onto others as you would want done to you, as well as ‘love thy neighbor,’ both of which are mutually exclusive of being in the same religion. Even if an outsider is not Mennonite, a Mennonite will treat everyone with kindness and respect. These are the Christian values that set a foundation for their entire belief system, to love everyone regardless of faith.
- They are honoring their history of non-violence and escaping obligatory war participation
Christianity Today reports:
“For Mennonites are generally pacifists, and as one of the historic peace churches, they suffer from the iniquitous, but common, identification of pacifism with modernism. Mennonites have largely remained evangelical and express weariness with the pragmatic drifting of liberal social ethics toward and away from pacifism, contingent.”
- “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33.
- “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3.
- “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” – Romans 12:18.
- Anabaptisthistorians.org – “Anabaptist values of Pacifism…” Dark Stories Project; January 7th, 2021.
#10 Why Are Mennonite Houses Green?
Alan G. Luke writes in his piece, Homespun Harmony:
“Does the local Home Hardware store have a surplus of green paint since it is a tradition for Old Order Mennonites to paint their roofs green?” we inquired; However, green is actually more symbolic of fertility and growth.”
Just as Amish houses are typically white for purity, Mennonite houses are typically green for prosperity. This is a shared Anabaptist custom to paint one’s home to represent a communicative expression to God.
The main reasons why Mennonites paint their homes or rooves green are to symbolize:
- Good fortune
- A good crop/season
- The beauty of nature itself
They are also noted for being easier to clean and maintain.
Genesis 9:1-3 Says:
“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”
- When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” – Matthew 8:5-10.