Mexican Minority Groups: Mennonites


Figure 1.--Peter Unrau came from the Sommerfeld colony in Manitoba and married Margaretha Thiessen (daughter of Peter Thiessen of Rosenort). This photograph wasctaken of the family in Canada before they came to Mexico.

A small minority group is the Mennonites in Chihuahua. The Mexicam Mennonites date from the 1920s an came from Canada. Canadian Mennonites between 1922-26 moved to Mexico. About 6,000 Mennonites came from Old Colony. Another 500 came from Sommerfelder. They moved to the San Antonio valley, about 500 km south of El Paso, Texas. A second Meican Mennonite community was founded in In 1924 further south than the first settlement. The photograph here shows one of those families before they came to Mexico. Mennonite boys still wear the same bib-front overalls they wore when their ancestors came to Mexico in the 1920s. At the time this was quite common clothing throughout rural America and Canada. A reader writes, "One of the families I saw strolling the streets of Chihuahua had teen boys dressed exactly like the youngster in this picture. One of the fascinating aspects is that they are able to hold on not only to their religion but also to their dress codes, language and life style. Just compare this to the peer pressure forcing European kids into wearing the uniform of the global village." The Mennonites were farmers and brought their agricultural traditions to Mexico. The Mennonites in Chihuahua live near Ciudad Cuauhtemoc were they farm and produce cheese. The railway from Chihuahua to the Pacific runs along their apple orchards for miles on end. One activity not well developed in Mexico is cheese. Most cheese produced in Mexico and the rest of Latin America is poor quality. The Mennonites are noted in Mexico for making cheese. The Mennonite community in Mexico today operates a seniors home, a home for disabled persons, and a rehabilitation center for alcoholics, plus a range of other social services. The Mexican Mennonites have aided both indigenous and Mexican people with disaster relief activities. They have also organized a Christian businessmenís group and founded a credit union. The Mennonites also persue mission efforts among Mexico's largely Roman Catholic population.with indigenous and Mexican people.

Mennonites

The Mennonites were an early Protestant sect which developed among Swiss Anabaptists. The Mennonites were moderate Anabaptists. They were initially referred to as the Swiss Bretheren, but were renamed the Mennanites after an earlier leader--Menno Simons (1496?-1561). A Zurrich group seceded from the state church (1523-25). One of the principal issues was infant baptism. The Mennites were nonresistants (pacifists) and refused to take oaths because of a Biblical interpretation. The Mennites took the Bible as the soul authority in matters of faith and accepted only two sacraments (batism and the Lord's Supper). Mennites spread to Germany and were an important part of the Volksdeutsche that migrated to Russia. The offere by Tsarina Chatherine the Great was especially attractive to the Mennonites because they were allowed to live as communities under their own laws and were exempted from military service. Other Mennites established communities in France and the Netherlands. Dutch Menninites issued the Dordrecht Confession (1632). The Mennonites settled areas of eastern Pennsylvania. The first Pennsylvania colony was at Germantown (1683). The Amish are one of the Mennite groups in Pennsylvania. Other colonies were established in Ohio and other mid-Western states. Mennonite familes also established colonies in western Canada. As Russian policies changed toward the Folksdeutsche in the 19th century, many moved to Canada. Large numbers were killed with Stalin during World War II exiled the Folksdeutsche from their Volga farms to Siberia (1941). A small group of Canadian Mennonites established two Mexican colonies during the 1920s.

Canadian Origins

A small minority group is the Mennonites in Chihuahua. The Mexicam Mennonites date from the 1920s an came from Canada. Canadian Mennonites between 1922-26 moved to Mexico. About 6,000 Mennonites came from Old Colony. Another 500 came from Sommerfelder. They moved to the San Antonio valley, about 500 km south of El Paso, Texas. A second Meican Mennonite community was founded in In 1924 further south than the first settlement.

Clothing

The photograph here shows one of those families before they came to Mexico. Mennonite boys still wear the same bib-front overalls they wore when their ancestors came to Mexico in the 1920s. At the time this was quite common clothing throughout rural America and Canada. A reader writes, "One of the families I saw strolling the streets of Chihuahua had teen boys dressed exactly like the youngster in this picture. One of the fascinating aspects is that they are able to hold on not only to their religion but also to their dress codes, language and life style. Just compare this to the peer pressure forcing European kids into wearing the uniform of the global village." The Mennonites were farmers and brought their agricultural traditions to Mexico.

Farming

The Mennonites in Chihuahua live near Ciudad Cuauhtemoc were they farm and produce cheese. The railway from Chihuahua to the Pacific runs along their apple orchards for miles on end. One activity not well developed in Mexico is cheese. Most cheese produced in Mexico and the rest of Latin America is poor quality. Good cheese is often expensive because it is imported. The Mennonites are noted in Mexico for making proper cheese.

Modern Activities

The Mennonites in Mexico are still primarily involved in agriculture, but has diversified into other ares. The Mennonite community in Mexico today operates a seniors home, a home for disabled persons, and a rehabilitation center for alcoholics, plus a range of other social services. The Mexican Mennonites have aided both indigenous and Mexican people with disaster relief activities. They have also organized a Christian businessmenís group and founded a credit union. The Mennonites also persue mission efforts among Mexico's largely Roman Catholic population.with indigenous and Mexican people.






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Created: April 29 2004
Last updated: 3:09 AM 9/7/2007