Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Mennonites

Click on the titles below to reveal the answers to frequently asked questions.

A Mennonite is a Christian. Similar to other Christians, Mennonites read the Bible, believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and worship God.

The Mennonite faith began during the 16th Century Protestant Reformation (when the Lutheran, Presbyterian and Reformed churches also began.) Mennonites have roots in Anabaptism and followed Menno Simons.

Through careful study of Scriptures and community discernment, Mennonites believe in non-violence, believers (adult) baptism, and the authority of the Bible rather than tradition. Mennonites baptize adult and teenage believers because we believe that Christians need to be old enough to make the choice to follow God and be a part of the church.

Mennonites were heavily persecuted because they often refused to follow government authority. The government mandated adult baptism and serving in the military. Mennonites baptized adults and were pacifists. Although many Mennonites originally came from Swiss and German roots, Mennonites later moved to Russia, Canada, and Mexico. Today, there are almost 1 million Mennonites worldwide including churches in North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia.

No. Our congregation is comprised mostly of those who grew up in this tradition, but there are also many from other denominations who consider Elmira Mennonite Church to be their church home.

Although many Mennonites in Kitchener-Waterloo have German or Russian roots, Mennonites come from all different countries, backgrounds, including South America, Asia and Africa.

Yes. Because there is no central authority for all Mennonites, each Mennonite community studies and interprets scripture according to their own understandings and lives out their faith and convictions accordingly. As a result, there is great diversity in how Mennonites live out their understandings of faithfulness.

There are probably 20 different kinds of Mennonites and Amish in Canada today. Some drive cars, accept technology and, in most ways, blend in with mainstream society. This describes our congregation. Others which we call “Old Orders” strive to live “separate” from mainstream society. They limit the use of technology, dress plain and drive horse and buggies.

However, all Mennonites share roots in the Radical Reformation and they share certain beliefs such as the centrality of Jesus, resisting violence, practicing adult baptism, and reading the Bible together as a community.

What should I wear?
People wear anything from jeans to suits or dresses.

Will I have to talk?
You will be greeted on the ramp and an usher will help you find a seat but you will not be centered out and will not have to introduce yourself during the worship service.

What time is worship?
A musical prelude begins at 9:20 am and the worship service starts 9:30 am each Sunday throughout the year. The worship service is 60-75 minutes in length.

Can my kids come?
Most definitely. Each Sunday we have a children’s time during the worship service when the kids get their own story time to help them understand the Bible.

Is there a nursery?
Yes. From September through May we have a supervised nursery for children up to age 5. We also have a quiet room available for parents and their sleeping or nursing baby. Both of these rooms are down the stairs from the front entrance. An usher will be happy to help you find them.

Children of all ages are also most welcome to remain to the service with you. There are activity bags at the back of the church which you are welcome to borrow for your child.

Is there a cost?
No. An offering will be received during the service, but there is no obligation to contribute. We believe that giving is an act of worship and that everything we have ultimately comes from God. The offering is an opportunity for those who attend our church and want to contribute financially to the work of the church in the community and the world.

Is there food? From September to May there is conversation and coffee, and there are snacks in the basement from 10:45 -11:00 am.

What time is Sunday School?
11:00 am to 12:00 pm Sunday mornings.

What is Sunday School?
Sunday School classes are for all ages including adults. Children learn about faith, the Bible and God. Adults spend time teaching, learning, and talking with one another.

Elmira Mennonite Church strives to provide a safe space for all children, youth and adults. We believe that the church has spiritual, moral, legal, and societal obligations to ensure a safe environment. We follow a Safe Church Policy that includes several safety features. Some of these features include requiring parents to sign-in and sign-out young children from classrooms, regular volunteer training, reference checks for new volunteers, regular vulnerable sector police checks for volunteers who work with children and youth, and using a team approach where there are normally two adults present for all children and youth activities.

More Information About Mennonites

The Mennonite Story in St. Jacobs is a great visitor’s centre. On its website there is information about the history and faith of Mennonites.

Click here to visit the Mennonite Story website.

We share many convictions with other Christian denominations and see ourselves within the Protestant family of churches. Along with the Anabaptist-Mennonite family of churches we emphasize Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-6-7), discipleship in daily life, community, mutual aid, peacemaking, justice and servanthood.

We recognize that raising a child is a profound and life-changing experience.

We want to celebrate that experience and pray for your child. In a Child Blessing Service we welcome your child to the world with prayer and ask God’s blessing on your role as parents. You don’t have to be a member of our congregation or share in our beliefs in order to ask for a Child Blessing Service.

In a Parent-Child Dedication Service parents are invited to reaffirm their own faith and publicly declare their intention to lead their child to healthy personhood and a life of faith. In this service, the congregation and extended family have an opportunity to commit themselves to be supportive to the parents and their child(ren) in their ongoing spiritual growth.

In both of these ceremonies the love and support of the congregation is symbolized by the presentation of a certificate from the elders and a prayer shawl for your child.

We believe that baptism is a symbol of an individual’s decision to follow Jesus Christ. It is a decision for which an individual must be old enough to understand and articulate their faith. For this reason, we practice believer’s (adult) baptism rather than infant baptism. When an individual is baptized in the Mennonite church, they also become recognized as full members of the church. For more information see Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online - Baptism.