"Anabaptist" is an umbrella name referring to those denominations that trace their roots to the Anabaptist movement which began in the early 1500's .  Mennonites today have their roots in the renewal movement of the Anabaptists.

 The Anabaptists were a group of Christian dissenters at the time of the 16th century Reformation who sought a return to New Testament Christianity. The term "Anabaptist" refers to the practice of re-baptizing persons who had already been baptized in infancy. Anabaptists believed that they represented a third option, an option that was neither Protestant nor Catholic. They believed that the church should be a group of voluntary adults, baptized upon confession of faith, and like the first Christians, separated from the world and state.

 Mennonites continue to hold to a number of the key beliefs of the early Anabaptists:

B.The church as a body of those who have been converted and have turned from sin to Christ and in whom God's Spirit dwells.

.The church as community where each member is of equal importance before God.

.The importance of loving and caring for each other (mutual aid).

.A forgiving love in all of life - with one's family, church members, neighbours and all people in the world.

bullet The separation of church and state.

 Anabaptist groups include the Mennonite Church, Old Order Amish, General Conference Mennonite, Mennonite Brethren, Brethren in Christ, Church of the Brethren, Old Order Mennonite, Evangelical Mennonite, and many more. Additionally, there are a number of groups of Christians around the world who identify with Anabaptist thought, but are not connected with a specific Mennonite group. For instance, there is an active "Anabaptist Network" of Christians in England.


During the Reformation in 16th Century Europe, Luther and Calvin promoted the concepts of individual freedom and the priesthood of all believers. In what has been called "the radical reformation", some religious reformers took these beliefs to a logical conclusion; they preached that the believer should separate themselves from all secular activities. One of the largest groups, the Anabaptists promoted:

.baptism during adulthood after confession of faith, instead of during infancy

.the total separation of religion from and state

.worship services in the home rather than at church

The religious movements that they founded are called "free churches" as contrasted to the state churches which were normal for the time. Their groups were simple associations of adult Christians. Most groups were wiped out in wars or programs of genocide which were organized by various governments, and both the main-line Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.