The Plain People

9 Apr

There was a time when I seriously thought about becoming a Mennonite. I was getting sick and tired of the divisions among Protestants.  Of liberal pastors who preach liberal sermons and produce  lukewarm congregations. I like the values the Mennonites espouse. The clean, simple living and plain clothes. Although many have regular jobs, some still live off the land which I believe was God’s original plan for man. To till the soil and harvest your own food. To grow herbs for their medicinal properties. Then I discovered there are different sects of Mennonites as there are different denominations, ranging from ultra conservative to quite liberal. There used to be a very liberal Mennonite church near my home. The people wore common, everyday clothes and they even had a band. I checked out their website and sent the pastor an email, but never got a reply. When I drove out to the church, it was nothing but an empty building that at one time had been store.

There is  another Mennonite church is in the next county. They are Weaverland Mennonites. Very conservative. The men and women sit separately and wear the traditional garb: men in dark pants, suspenders and straw hats. Women in the plain, ‘prairie’ dresses and head covering. Singing is a Cappella, which means they do not use musical instruments. They have a list of rules that even extends to their private home life. No TV, no jewelry (some churches don’t even allow wedding bands). Cars must be black or a dark color. Chrome bumpers have to be painted dark as well. They do not allow flashy, shiny things. Men have beards. They cannot grow a mustache because it’s symbolizes the military and war which Mennonites are against.

Some ultra Mennonite churches not only have a rigid dress code style, but also are strict on color and shoes. Shirts must be tucked in. Only one button can be left unfastened.  I have to admit this is where I draw the line. If God’s word doesn’t require such things, then it’s a man made rule. I began to wonder if conservative Mennonites are too overly concerned with trivial things when they should be seeking God and evangelizing. Not put a ‘yoke’ or heavy burden upon the people. Different pastors can set their own rules for the parishioners. This had sometimes led to splits in the past where some of the members would leave and start their own church. However, I have the utmost respect for them as a people who try to live a peaceful, humble life.

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