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The Premium Edition adds important features such as complete software maintenance, security advisory, frequent minor upgrade versions, downloads, Pack exports and imports, 24×7 scheduling and more. Simply double-click the downloaded file to install it. You can choose your language settings from within the program. This is always free of charge. Sync your files with the cloud! In contemporary 21st-century society, Mennonites either are described only as a religious denomination with members of different ethnic origins or as both an ethnic group and a religious denomination.

The early history of the Mennonites starts with the Anabaptists in the German and Dutch-speaking parts of central Europe. Some of the followers of Zwingli’s Reformed church thought that requiring church membership beginning at birth was inconsistent with the New Testament example. Many government and religious leaders, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, considered voluntary church membership to be dangerous—the concern of some deepened by reports of the Münster Rebellion, led by a violent sect of Anabaptists. They joined forces to fight the movement, using methods such as banishment, torture, burning, drowning or beheading. Despite strong repressive efforts of the state churches, the movement spread slowly around western Europe, primarily along the Rhine. Officials killed many of the earliest Anabaptist leaders in an attempt to purge Europe of the new sect. By 1530, most of the founding leaders had been killed for refusing to renounce their beliefs.

Many believed that God did not condone killing or the use of force for any reason and were, therefore, unwilling to fight for their lives. The pacifist branches often survived by seeking refuge in neutral cities or nations, such as Strasbourg. Their safety was often tenuous, as a shift in alliances or an invasion could mean resumed persecution. In the early days of the Anabaptist movement, Menno Simons, a Catholic priest in the Low Countries, heard of the movement and started to rethink his Catholic faith. He questioned the doctrine of transubstantiation but was reluctant to leave the Roman Catholic Church. During the 16th century, the Mennonites and other Anabaptists were relentlessly persecuted. This period of persecution has had a significant impact on Mennonite identity.

Martyrs Mirror, published in 1660, documents much of the persecution of Anabaptists and their predecessors. For instance, near the beginning of the 20th century, some members in the Amish church wanted to begin having Sunday Schools and participate in progressive Protestant-style para-church evangelism. The first recorded account of this group is in a written order by Countess Anne, who ruled a small province in central Europe. The presence of some small groups of violent Anabaptists was causing political and religious turmoil in her state, so she decreed that all Anabaptists were to be driven out.

The order made an exception for the non-violent branch known at that time as the Menists. Political rulers often admitted the Menists or Mennonites into their states because they were honest, hardworking and peaceful. When their practices upset the powerful state churches, princes would renege on exemptions for military service, or a new monarch would take power, and the Mennonites would be forced to flee again, usually leaving everything but their families behind. Often, another monarch in another state would grant them welcome, at least for a while. Mennonite churches blended into city architecture to avoid offending the religious sensibilities of the majority. While Mennonites in Colonial America were enjoying considerable religious freedom, their counterparts in Europe continued to struggle with persecution and temporary refuge under certain ruling monarchs.

They were sometimes invited to settle in areas of poor soil that no one else could farm. In addition, high taxes were enacted in exchange for both continuing the military service exemption, and to keep the states’ best farmers from leaving. In some cases, the entire congregation would give up their belongings to pay the tax to be allowed to leave. If a member or family could not afford the tax, it was often paid by others in the group. A strong emphasis on “community” was developed under these circumstances.

It continues to be typical of Mennonite churches. As a result of frequently being required to give up possessions in order to retain individual freedoms, Mennonites learned to live very simply. This was reflected both in the home and at church, where their dress and their buildings were plain. Between 1874 and 1880 some 16,000 Mennonites of approximately 45,000 left Russia. Mennonite refugees from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the Mennonites in Russia owned large agricultural estates and some had become successful as industrial entrepreneurs in the cities, employing wage labor. When the German army invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 during World War II, many in the Mennonite community perceived them as liberators from the communist regime under which they had suffered. When the tide of war turned, many of the Mennonites fled with the German army back to Germany where they were accepted as Volksdeutsche. By 2015 the majority of Russian Mennonites live in Latin America, while tens of thousands live in Germany and Canada. Mennonites affiliated with the Lower and Upper Barton Creek Colonies in Belize. In 1693 Jakob Ammann led an effort to reform the Mennonite church in Switzerland and South Germany to include shunning, to hold communion more often, and other differences. When the discussions fell through, Ammann and his followers split from the other Mennonite congregations.