Members of the Mennonites Sect, June 8, 1918, Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio.
Mennonites are a Christian religious group. They originated in the Netherlands and Switzerland during the early 1500s. Mennonites originally came together in opposition to certain actions and policies of the Roman Catholic Church. Their name is derived from the founder of the Mennonite Church in the Netherlands. His name was Menno Simons.
Some Mennonites are more conservative in their religious views than others, but many of these people share common beliefs. Mennonites generally aspire to create a religious community dedicated to God's word as presented in the New Testament. They also reject infant baptism, believing that adults must profess their faith in God to be formally baptized. They do practice communion, and some members also engage in foot washing. Most Mennonites are pacifists and are opposed to violence and war. Some also refuse to take oaths. They believe that the only oath that they should take is to dedicate their lives to God. Some Mennonite groups use some modern conveniences such as electricity and automobiles. Other more conservative groups prefer to remain withdrawn from most modern conveniences. Conservative Mennonites also prefer simplistic dress that does not reveal bodily features.
During the 1700s and the 1800s, many Mennonites fled religious turmoil in Europe and sought religious freedom in the New World. Most of these people settled in Pennsylvania, but succeeding generations have moved across the Midwest. The Mennonites first arrived in Ohio during the early 1800s. They originally settled in modern-day Stark, Wayne, Holmes, and Knox Counties. Mennonites also moved into Ashland, Geauga, and Putnam Counties as well as many other places across the State of Ohio. Most Mennonites today earn their living through agriculture. In 2003, there were more than 450,000 Mennonites in North America.