The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, is a relatively small church among the various denominations known as Mennonites. We endeavor to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles in all matters of faith and practice. This faith has been embraced throughout history by true Christians, including the Waldenses, although often in obscurity and under persecution.
The foundation of our faith is the grace of God that brings us personal salvation through the new birth. This new birth begins with faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and results in repentance of sin and obedience to Christ’s teachings. This new life in Christ unites us in fellowship with brotherly love.
We believe in baptism for believers, nonresistance, and a simple, modest lifestyle. The Bible teaches that Christians are to be separate (nonconformed) from the world in spirit (attitude and outlook) and manner of life. Since Christians belong to the kingdom of God, Christ teaches us to live peacefully with others. We do not take any part in politics, elected government offices, or the military. We teach that men should wear a beard and that Christian women should wear a devotional head covering.
Origin of the Mennonites
The Mennonites are descended from the Anabaptists, who rejected infant baptism and insisted on a believer’s baptism. They were bitterly persecuted by both Catholics and Protestants for their doctrines and their independence from the state churches.
In 1536 Menno Simons, a Catholic priest in Holland, came under conviction for his sins and began studying the Bible. His repentance and surrender to God resulted in his spiritual new birth. He was baptized by the Anabaptists and was later chosen to be a minister. A gifted, humble man, Menno Simons ardently studied the Bible and became a very capable teacher and writer. Because of Menno’s influence, the Anabaptists were later called Mennonites. These early Anabaptist-Mennonites were known by their adherence to Christ’s teachings in every area of life: pure speech, modest apparel, diligence in business, moral purity, separation from the world, and nonresistance. Their insistence on experiencing a change of heart through a true conversion to Christ was the basis of their walk of life.
The Mennonite Church in America
Because of persecution and their desire for religious freedom, Mennonites began to immigrate to America beginning in 1683 and continuing until the late 1800s. They braved the dangers of frontier life and became known as quiet, God-fearing people; sober and devout in faith and industrious and temperate in everyday life. They steadfastly refused to participate in war, which earned them the reputation of being a peace-loving church.
However, times of test and prosperity brought a spiritual decline. During the nineteenth century, it appeared to some Mennonites that not all the historic practices were being upheld. Among those who contended for the historic faith was John Holdeman (1832-1900), of Wayne County, Ohio. He increasingly felt that the MennoniteChurch no longer was practicing the true doctrine in many areas. He appealed to church leaders for spiritual revival. Although some agreed with his evaluation, little action was taken to bring about reform. In 1859, he and others began worshiping separately. Eventually, this small group organized as the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.
The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite
John Holdeman was a Spirit-filled evangelist, teacher, and writer. His outstanding work is the Mirror of Truth, a doctrinal book still held in high regard by the church today. He traveled widely as an evangelist, and many who listened to his preaching experienced spiritual rebirth and were baptized. A number of congregations were established in the United States and Canada.
After John Holdeman’s death, the church continued to grow. Mission activity began in an organized way in the 1930s. With the growth in membership, congregations have been established in many states and provinces. Today, congregations or mission stations have been established in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and various countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Although the largest concentration of members is in North America, the church has a world-wide membership of over 21,000. Most congregations operate a Christian school for the purpose of protecting our children from worldly influences and to maintain a proper vision of education. The church publishes and distributes Christian literature and tracts and provides disaster relief and humanitarian aid. Expanding evangelism and missionary efforts are engaged in by individuals and through organized programs.
We invite people of every culture, race, and nation to come to Jesus Christ for salvation. With a living hope in God’s grace as sufficient for our salvation and spiritual welfare, we face the future with confidence in God, watching for Jesus’ return.