As with many other groups, it is difficult to define who Mennonites are. From the very beginning, one of the major emphases of the Mennonite church has been that joining the church is a voluntary decision. Today, however, one can go to an area with a Mennonite population and see signs advertising "Mennonite baking," "Mennonite furniture," "Mennonite quilts," and even "Mennonite maple syrup!" To my knowledge, no syrup or baked goods have ever been baptized into a Mennonite church - they have never decided that "this is the church for them." In such cases the word "Mennonite" does not refer to a religious group, but rather to people of a certain ethnic and/or cultural background.
The topics in this section will introduce several traditional aspects of life which continue to have importance for people of Mennonite ethnic heritage. As a result, this section concentrates on Mennonites of European background. These traditions do not limit who is part of or can join a Mennonite church, nor do they reflect the growing diversity within it.
Marwa Kisare of Tanzania made this point very well when speaking about Mennonite missionaries arriving in his country:
Make sure to visit The Church Today and The World Church to discover the rich cultures and traditions which thrive in both the national and international church.
Created 1998 by Derek Suderman