I am a baby boomer, born in the 1950’s to practicing Mennonite parents. As a girl child, that simply meant that I needed to always wear a dress and have my hair uncut in pig-tails. We attended church on Sunday mornings and were supposed to attend church on Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings too for prayer meetings. My parents, even in those early years, deviated away from the expectations of church members because of distance to the church building from our farm and the higher priority my parents placed on farm work. The three of us children were also sent to public school rather that to the church parochial school that was much more common among members. Below is a segment from my book with a very concise version of what Mennonites believe.
Oh yes, gym class is my bane. But how can I make an A in gym when I am the only one wearing a dress while trying to climb a rope or perform cartwheels? We are Mennonites, so every day, I wear a skirt and blouse as my basic attire. A single braid of uncut hair snakes down my back beyond my waist. It is capped by a small mesh “covering” on my head.
Mennonites are distinguishable from other Christian denominations primarily by several beliefs that are distinct. They were, historically, called Anabaptists because of their rejection of infant baptism and the practice of believer’s baptism. The Mennonite Christian is to be separate from the world in all practices. This translates into a strict belief in the separation of church and state and the practice of non-resistance. No church member may serve in the military, participate in a lawsuit, vote, or hold public office. Dressing differently from the world is also stressed. For women, this means they are not to “use makeup, cut their hair, and wear slacks, shorts, or fashionable head dress, short sleeves, low necklines, dresses not reaching well below the knees, or clothes that expose the form of the body in an immodest way. The hair is to be covered with a veil of sufficient size to adequately cover the head.” (Excerpted from the Statement of Christian Doctrine and Rules and Discipline, Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church, July 17, 1968.)