THE MENNONITE MIGRATION

Edgar's picture

Part Owner of Texas

A pickup truck crowded with nearly a dozen Mennonites left El Paso in 1977. When it reached a hill west of Seminole there was a big sigh of relief and the driver, when he saw the valley below, told his passengers, “We are Home.”

It had been a long journey scattered over several years and several countries. Throughout history in country after country the Mennonites had been promised special dispensations from the various governments regarding taxes, religious freedom and land ownership. When those were removed the Mennonites became vagabonds looking for a home.

Mennonites are followers of Menno Simons, a former Catholic who disagreed with the church’s insistence on infant baptism. He thought baptism should come when a person was old enough to make decisions. He also believed in pacifism. Menno lived from 1496 to1561 in the Netherlands. Mennonites were given exemption from military service if they used their skills to reclaim some low land on the coast. When that ended the Mennonites were without religious freedom. Some were persecuted. They fled to Poland, then Russia, the US, Canada, Mexico, Paraguay and other countries. Today Antarctica is the only continent without Mennonites. They are quick to point out that they are members of a religion. They are not an ethnic group.

 

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