The group I chose to do my ethnographic research on was the Mennonites. I was able to meet with and interview a man, Jon Tullis. He was able to give me a lot of information for this paper. Jon belongs to a conservative group, which practices some different beliefs than other religions or groups. The Mennonites derived their name from Menno Simons a former Dutch priest. They are known as the plain people because of their simple lifestyles. The Mennonite population was established because of disagreement of beliefs in the Amish community.
There are numerous ways the Mennonites follow faith, but still hold there common simplistic beliefs. “They believe that, Jesus Christ is central worship and to everyday living. Behavior is to follow Christ’s example. The Bible is considered the inspired word of God. Membership continues to be voluntary with adult baptism upon declaration of faith” (Mennonite USA, pg. 2). While interviewing Jon, he stated that “We do not get baptized until we ourselves feel that we are ready to make the commitment to our church and to God. This usually occurs around the age of 11-13. Jon was explaining to me some of their practices that they partake in, such as they do not participate in military services because God wanted peace and they follow God’s prayer. They boys of the family follow in their fathers, uncles, and grandfathers footsteps. Some usual activities that the men do are harness making, woodworking, and carpentry. While the boys do not start working on their specialized skills until a later age, the girls begin learning at a very young age. The women of the family mainly focus on the cooking, cleaning, and the making of clothing for their family.
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Another practice that the Mennonites participate in is, foot washing. They do this to acknowledge their frequent need of cleansing, and to renew their willingness to let go of pride and power and offer their lives in humble service. They believe in Stewardship which means that everything belongs to god. I was able to perform participant observation in Leetonia, Ohio at a Mennonite community church. During the church service I noticed that the whole worship is centered on the sermon. The Mennonites are consider to be Anabaptist, which means baptized again.
During the mass I was able to see how they dressed. I noticed that the men wore plain black coats and pants, while the women wore a full dress to their ankles, a oshawl, and a small lace hat. As I was leaving the church I also noticed that the majority of the families drove black cars. As the mass progressed you could see that the Bible was central to their beliefs. You could also observe the tight bond between the families. There wasn’t any kids playing around, or babies crying, this was nothing like anything that I have ever observed at my masses.
I have learned that being a Mennonite is not just living a simple life. It is more basing you life on as god and what he wants. You also have to be family oriented, which makes the whole community united, which makes this group very close. I have learned a lot from this project by just spending a couple of hours with this close knit community. I believe that if everyone else followed some of the Mennonites beliefs that the world would hopefully become a more peaceful place to live. Reference Jon Tullis (personal communication, April 15, 2007) (n. d) Mennonite. April 16, 2007, www. mennoniteusa. org//usa