There is a Mennonite community here in Belize located in Spanish Lookout in Cayo which settled in the 1950’s. They normally go to Belize City on Fridays to sell their products and navigate freely without anyone staring because they are Belizeans and form part of the Belizean culture - this is one good thing about Belize, a multi-cultural country.
Who are the Mennonite and Amish?
Both the Mennonites and Amish originated from Anabaptist movement
which arose in the 16th century in Europe in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation movement.
The Anabaptists believe on the emphasis of returning to the purity and simplicity of faith and practice as lived by the early Christian church. They do not practice the popular concept of infant baptism and believe only adults who have confessed their faith should be baptised and should remain separate from the larger society.
These Anabaptist groups were severely persecuted throughout Europe. Thousands were put to death as heretics by both Catholics and Protestants. To avoid this persecution many fled to the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany. Here began the Amish tradition of farming and holding their worship services in homes rather than churches.
The Amish and Mennonites worship is against rituals, religious icons, and ostentation. The Mennonite churches are separate designated buildings used primarily for worship and are not ornate by any means.
In the Amish community, when children reach the age of 16 they are allowed to freely interact with the outside world until they reach 18 after which they have to decide whether they would like to join the Amish church or they are better off in the outside world. If you decide not to join the church then you are shunned, banned and avoided by the church members. But you are allowed anytime upon repentance to re-join the church. The Amish believe that influences of the outside world only interfere with the purity of their faith. They forbid higher education, refrain from the use of electricity and ride in horse-drawn buggies.
The Mennonites on the other hand tend to be more tolerant of technology and the outside world. Furthermore, the Mennonites accept higher education and modern technology. They tend to see these influences as ways that can be used to strengthen their religious beliefs.
Both men, women, and children dress modestly in dark colours (usually black and blue) and seek to avoid any form of vanity. Some men wear no neckties or buttons on their clothes. Women wear long skirts, small bonnets and tie their hair in buns. Neither men nor women wear wedding rings or jewellery of any sort.
They are strongly attached to the land, most being in the dairy and farming business and also do carpentry work. Despite their restricted modes of transportation (horse and buggy), the Mennonites employ rather modern techniques on their dairy farms. Mechanical pumps and state-of-the-art medicines are all utilized.
The Mennonites have historically sought to increase their fellowship through missionary activities throughout the world, whereas the Amish have never felt the need for such activities.