Holdeman Mennonites

A distinct Anabaptist community emphasizing separation from the world and strict adherence to biblical teachings.

The Holdeman Mennonites, formally known as the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, trace their origins to the 16th-century Anabaptist movement, which sought a return to the practices of the early Christian church. Their spiritual heritage is closely linked with the teachings of Menno Simons, the Waldenses, and other nonconformist groups from the Middle Ages, emphasizing a direct lineage to the Early Church through Christ’s one true, visible Church that has preserved His faith and doctrine through the ages​​.

John Holdeman, born to Mennonite parents in Wayne County, Ohio, in 1832, initiated the formation of the Holdeman Mennonites in the mid-19th century. Observing what he perceived as a spiritual decline and doctrinal drift within the Mennonite Church, Holdeman advocated for a reformation to realign with the original faith. In April 1859, after holding separate meetings that stressed the need for earnestly contending for the faith once delivered unto the saints, he led a permanent separation from the Mennonite Church, thus founding the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite​​.

The Holdeman Mennonites experienced significant growth with the influx of Mennonite immigrants from the Russian Empire (now Ukraine), particularly among the so-called “Russian” Mennonites of Dutch and Prussian heritage, in North America during the late 19th century. This period saw a notable expansion of the church in both the United States and Canada, incorporating many individuals from the Kleine Gemeinde Mennonites and others seeking a church that held tightly to Anabaptist principles​​.

Theologically, the Holdeman Mennonites maintain evangelical Protestant and Pietist influences, asserting the possibility of losing one’s salvation if one stops following Jesus. This Arminian viewpoint underscores a salvation that is contingent upon a continual faith in Christ, with the church considering itself the true visible church. Their doctrine stresses the necessity of the new birth, repentance, the atoning work of Christ, and a life that bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Uniquely, they deny that Jesus was made from the flesh of Mary, aligning more closely with early Anabaptist leaders like Menno Simons and Melchior Hoffman. Eschatologically, they adhere to an amillennial view, emphasizing the present time as the sole opportunity for salvation​​.

Practically, Holdeman Mennonites live out their faith through a strong culture of non-involvement in government, non-resistance, simplicity in lifestyle, and a separation from worldly entertainments and attractions. Their distinct practices include a ban on “carnal courtship,” opting instead for a church-organized approach to marriage proposals and engagements, and a simple wedding ceremony. Membership is granted through adult believer’s baptism, with communion reserved for members and practiced with bread and unfermented grape juice. The church practices shunning or avoidance towards former members to maintain community purity​​.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *