Church Life in North America

Religious and Cultural Old Colony churches in the United States and Canada, including the ones in Ontario, tend to be the most progressive of Old Colony groups because they have had to create a religious identity in a pluralistic environment that challenges their commitment to be separate. For some Latin American Mennonites who come to Ontario, the Old Colony traditions are too restrictive so they look for alternative churches. For others, tradition remains a structure that frees them to live according to their religious beliefs.  In Ontario, Mennonites from Latin America attend a great variety of churches, though the majority continue to attend the Old Colony church. At the same time, not all Low German Mennonite churches in Latin America are Old Colony. The Sommerfeld and former General Conference churches tend to be more open to some forms degrees of cultural adaptaion. When people from these groups migrate to Canada, they will adjust more quickly to Canadian norms than Old Colony members, by joining other Mennonite and non-Mennonite churches. 1 The Old Colony Church is a little different (in Ontario). In Mexico, almost all the women wear the formal “cap” to church while here it is mostly the older generation. The clothing worn to church is more modern in Canada, which includes the style and colour. In Mexico, formal church clothing is worn to worship. In Mexico the service is delivered in High German and here it is delivered in Low German. Low German is better because more of the sermon can be understood.”

What’s the difference between Amish, Old Order, and other conservative Mennonite groups?

Old Order Mennonites, Amish and Old Colony Mennonites share a common origin in the 16th century Anabaptist movement in Europe.  While Old Colony Mennonites have a history which includes migration to Russia in the 18th century, Old Order Mennonites and Amish began migrating to Pennsylvania already in the 16th (Old Order Mennonites) and 17th (Amish) centuries. Eventually many came to Ontario.  All three groups take seriously the ideal of remaining separate from the world.

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