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The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons (1496–1561), who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders. The teachings of the Mennonites were founded on their belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, which they held to with great conviction despite persecution by the various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. Rather than fight, the majority survived by fleeing to neighboring states where ruling families were tolerant of their radical belief in adult baptism. Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the historic peace churches because of their commitment to nonviolence.[2]

There are about 1.5 million Mennonites worldwide as of 2006.[3] Mennonite congregations worldwide embody the full scope of Mennonite practice from "plain people" to those who are indistinguishable in dress and appearance from the general population. The largest populations of Mennonites are in Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United States, but Mennonites can also be found in tight-knit communities in at least 51 countries on six continents or scattered amongst the populace of those countries. There are also a significant number of Mennonites scattered throughout China. There are German Mennonite colonies in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia,[4] Brazil, Mexico and Paraguay[5] and there remains a small congregation in the Netherlands where Menno was born.

The Mennonite Disaster Service,[6] based in North America, provides both immediate and long-term responses to hurricanes, floods, and other disasters. The Mennonite Central Committee provides disaster relief around the world alongside their long-term international development programs. Other programs offer a variety of relief efforts and services throughout the world.

Since the latter part of the 20th century, some Mennonite groups have also become more actively involved with peace and social justice issues, helping to found Christian Peacemaker Teams and Mennonite Conciliation Service.[7]


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