Sunday, December 5, 2010

Anabaptist movement thrives in North America

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

From horse-and-buggy Mennonites in Mexico to Amish in Arkansas, a new study reveals the variety of Anabaptist culture in North America.

"The biggest surprise was that there was a Mennonite group in the Bahamas," said Donald Kraybill, senior fellow at Elizabethtown College's Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, who did the research.

But that plain-dressing group isn't lounging on the beach in bonnets and suspenders.

"They're doing evangelical mission work and have two congregations. But they also have an industrial training school and are teaching occupational skills to native people there," he said.

Dr. Kraybill, who published his findings in the new "Concise Encyclopedia of Amish, Brethren, Hutterites and Mennonites" from Johns Hopkins University Press, found Anabaptist groups in 17 of the 23 North American nations. It is the first study of all Anabaptist groups. Anabaptists descend from Swiss and German radicals of the Protestant Reformation who insisted on adult baptism, rejected state control of the church and practiced nonresistance despite brutal persecution.

The study found 809,845 Anabaptist adults. Children would raise the total to an estimated 1.3 million. More than two-thirds -- 578,195 -- live in the United States, with the next largest group of 144,000 in Canada.

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