Anabaptists practice believers baptism, which means they believe the true baptism should be reserved for when a person is old enough to choose to follow Christ on their own. Mennonites base their interpretation of the Bible on the teachings of Jesus, so when there is a discrepancy between different teachings in the Bible, Mennonites defer to what Jesus said on the matter. This has led them to holding beliefs such as pacifism (non-violence) and simple living which distinguish them from other Christian denominations.
In Kalona, there are many congregations of Mennonites, with varying degrees of conservatism. The more conservative group, referred to locally as Conservative Mennonites, wear simple clothing which may be made of plain fabric, or small prints, with minimal ornamentation. Their clothing, unlike Old Order Amish, may contain zippers. Women wear longer dresses, and white starched prayer caps or scarves, as a way of maintaining an attitude of prayer. They live in modern homes with English conveniences, like electricity, and telephones, but may not have TVs. Less conservative members, known simply as Mennonites, wear regular clothes, and live similar lives as their English neighbors.
According to MennoniteUSA, singing is the most important thing that happens in Mennonite worship. They gather as a community by singing, offer their prayers and praise through song, proclaim the Word with music, and leave worship singing. Music is the thread that holds a service together. It is their most profound connection with God. For many years, Mennonite churches were not allowed to have any instrumental accompaniment in worship because it was considered too worldly, so they sang a capella in beautiful four part harmonies. Though many Mennonite congregations today use instrumental accompaniment on Sunday morning, the human voice is still the most important instrument. Song leaders often direct congregational singing in four parts, with the whole congregation functioning as a choir does in other denominations. The different orders of Mennonites sing a wide variety of music. The more conservative sing only traditional hymns, anthems, and gospel songs, while less conservative congregations allow the singing of folk songs, international music, Celtic songs, and even jazz and rock. Visitors interested in local mennonite music can witness several local groups at the Gospel Sing held at Windmill Ridge Campground each summer.
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