While in St. Jacobs village, I had the chance to walk through the Mennonite Story. I thought I had a fair idea of the history of the Mennonites, but still there are always new things to learn.
In 1525, during the Reformation movement of Martin Luther and others, Menno Simon was one of several who believed that baptism into the Christian faith should be an informed choice by an adult. And so began the Anabaptists, and specifically the Mennonites. They also believed in pacifism and community as a way of life. The definition of ‘community’ did not necessarily include communal or colony living, although some did choose that style of living – possibly as much to retain their faith as to have some protection from the ‘outside’ world. Rather, ‘community’ is defined as helping their fellow man.
From those original Mennonites have come many different groups, among them the Amish (who tend to live close to each other, but individually) and the Hutterites (who do live in colonies). Today’s Mennonites range from the ultra-conservative Old Order Amish in their dark old-style clothing and driving their horse-and-buggy to those who live modern life-styles and would be indistinguishable from anybody else walking or driving down the street.
As we drove around the countryside west of Waterloo Ontario, we saw many signs of the way of life of the conservative Mennonites and Amish.
(And they always made sure they could be seen when coming up behind them):
Their one-room schools
And meeting houses (they don’t call them ‘church’)
All demonstrate a simplicity in life-style, and a humility in attitude within the world. Even their cemeteries and grave markers are ‘plain’:
Note the hitching posts nearby in each situation.
We visited a cheese outlet, where a nice young man in simple
Amish-style clothing served us. The Old Order Mennonites don’t like to have their picture taken as it’s seen as a ‘graven image’, so I respected that in situations where we were face-to-face. From what we read, though, it’s acceptable to have a photo taken from a passing vehicle, and some of the drivers smiled and waved at us as we passed with camera clicking.
This store didn’t just cater to Mennonite styles in their goods, there was much there that would satisfy some of the most modern of us, just not electronics. Oh, and they did have a freezer of ice cream!
It was a lovely relaxing day, just driving around seeing the country side and enjoying the sights.
Off to the U.S. of A. in the morning. Semi- headed homeward. I’m sure we’ll see some new country and experience more new things to share with you all! Blessings, Peg