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A People Apart

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Kathleen Kenna

Grade 4-6?This excellent book shows various aspects of life in Old Order Mennonite communities, including home, work, education, and worship. The well-written text does a good job of explaining the Mennonites' lifestyle and the reasons they choose to … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Kathleen Kenna
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
1 review about A People Apart

A brief look into the lives of Old Order Mennonites

  • May 9, 2010
We have both Old Order Mennonites and Old Order Amish in our community, and a quick way to tell them apart is that the Mennonite women can wear print dresses, while the Amish women must stick to solid colors like black, blue, and green. Mennonite men are sometimes clean-shaven, whereas Amishmen are always bearded.

Both religious groups are descended from the Anabaptists, who originated in sixteenth century Europe coincident with the beginning of the Protestant reformation. Zurich, Switzerland was the original home of the Anabaptists who disagreed with the 'mainstream' Protestants of the time over infant baptism. The Anabaptists believed that baptism should only be conferred on adults who were willing to following the disciplines of the new Church. They also renounced oaths, reveling and drunkenness, the use of force in war or civil government, and personal adornment.

These practices did not make them popular with their fellow Protestants or the local rulers, and the book "Martyr's Mirror" records the persecutions of this period. Gradually, the Anabaptists split apart into the Mennonites, Amish (mainly because of disagreements over the practice of shunning), and Hutterites, and migrated to America and Canada.

Currently the Mennonites live in forty different countries, which is one thing that differentiates them from the Amish, who stick pretty close to home in North America. The Mennonites are more like the Society of Friends in this respect, as they are heavily into works of charity in less fortunate nations.

The author and photographer of this 64-page book paint a picture of everyday life in an Old Order Mennonite Community, including a look into a Mennonite school, church-going activities, and a barn-raising. One of my favorite photographs is of a stern-looking teacher in bonnet and glasses running the bases in a lunchtime baseball game, while one of her students tries to tag her out.

It surprised me to learn that "about one quarter of any Old Order population never marries. They often set up their own farms or households, sometimes with another unmarried friend or relative." This practice quite definitely distinguishes them from the Amish.

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