Mennonites For the Curious

 

What is a Mennonite anyway?

 

Are they Christian?

 

Is it a cult or something?

 

Don't they drive horses and buggies?

 

Perhaps you have asked these questions yourself! 

Here are a few answers and some information on where to find out more. . . Or you can join us for a service and ask us in person!

 

Okay, so what does Mennonite mean?

That is the name of the denomination, like Lutheran or Methodist.  Just as Lutherans are named for Martin Luther, we are named for an early leader, Menno Simons.

Are Mennonites Christian?
Yes, we believe in Jesus Christ as son of God, take communion, practice baptism, and base our beliefs on the Bible.

So how are you different?
We may not be as different as you think. Our worship services look much like those of other denominations. We don’t have any strange rituals or even secret handshakes!

Don’t you drive buggies and wear funny clothes?
The Mennonite Church is made up of many different groups, called conferences. They differ greatly on lifestyle issues. Here at Hyde Park, no one drives a buggy. A lot of people ride their bikes, though. And quite a few drive hybrids.

Our congregation does not require women to wear head coverings or long dresses. Most of us come to church dressed very casually. . . most likely in jeans in the winter and shorts in the summer. We come from all over the Treasure Valley.

So can anyone be a Mennonite? Don’t you have to be born one?
A few of our congregation are what’s called “ethnic Mennonites.” Their ancestors were persecuted in Europe and immigrated to the U.S. and Canada, often from Switzerland or Russia. Most of us at Hyde Park are not “ethnic Mennonites” but were attracted to the issues of peace and justice and were looking for a church that addressed those issues.

And how do you address those issues?
The Mennonite church is historically a peace church. We seek non-violent ways to face conflict in our interpersonal relationships and in global issues. This includes a commitment to be good stewards of all creation. In any given week you might find one of us meeting with an Idaho senator about the ongoing conflicts in Colombia where we have a sister church. Or working on cleaning up or clearing trails in the Foothills. Our congregation began the local fair trade store called Dunia Market (formerly Ten Thousand Villages). Several members of our congregation helped found Corpus Christi House, a day shelter for the homeless where many of us volunteer regularly. Others are involved with the Idaho Peace Coalition.

If I did attend a worship service, what could I expect?
We usually have about 50-60 people in attendance on Sunday mornings. There are quite a few children. Adults range in age from early twenties to early sixties.

Our sanctuary is simple, often with a banner of some sort on the wall behind the pulpit. We enjoy singing, sometimes with the piano, sometimes with guitars. Our pastor, or a lay person, gives a short sermon. Afterwards we have a time of sharing joys and concerns before praying together. Then there is another song or so and a benediction.

We also like to think we are pretty friendly. Generally someone will engage you in conversation. Hopefully we aren’t nosy, just friendly!

Will you try to convert me?
Well, no. We all have very diverse journeys and respect that about each other. No one will ask you what you believe or if you are born again. There are no “tests” or trick questions to see where you stand!

What about women’s roles?
From 1999 through June of 2011 we had a female pastor. Women are active in every aspect of our church.

And children?
We do not tend to have large families in our congregation. Yet we do have a lot of families with children. It is not a place where you have to worry about your children whispering too loud. There is a time in the worship service for children to come forward for a story. Children often play an instrument during the offertory or assist with some other aspect of the service. During the school year we offer Sunday School for children and adults.

Sounds a little too perfect.
Oh, it isn’t. We are quite human and have our problems like any other group. Community is important to us but community isn’t easy. We sometimes disagree, become frustrated and have fruitless meetings. In the end however, we support one other in the love of Christ and try to live lives of integrity and hope. Because of modern lifestyles, we always have people moving into and out of the congregation. We are very open to new
folks becoming a part of our community in whatever ways they are comfortable.