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The Mennonites: Pacifism and Social Justice

Art deFehr

By Jon Sievert

At this week’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Service, Canadian Mennonite Art DeFehr will discuss his religion and its commitments to pacifism and social activism, seen through the eyes of DeFehr’s family and his worldwide social/humanitarian activities.

UU Service
The Mennonites: Pacifism and Social Justice
With Art DeFehr
Sun, Feb 28, 10:30am
La Posada de la Aldea
Ancha de San Antonio 15

The Mennonite form of Christianity is not widely known or appreciated by the general public. Yet it has an interesting history that extends from Europe and Russia to Canada, the US, Mexico, and into Latin America as well as India and Africa.

In most forms of worship and practice, they differ very little from other Protestant congregations. There is no special form of dress and no restrictions on use of technology. Worship styles vary greatly between different congregations. There is no formal liturgy; services typically consist of singing, scripture reading, prayer, and a sermon. Some churches prefer hymns and choirs; others make use of contemporary Christian music with electronic instruments. Mennonite congregations are self-supporting and appoint their own ministers.

The distinguishing characteristics of moderate Mennonite churches tend to be ones of emphasis rather than rule. There is an emphasis on peace, community, and service. However, members do not live in a separate community. They participate in the general community as “salt and light” to the world (Matt 5:13, 14). The main elements of Menno Simons’ doctrine are retained, but in a moderated form. Banning is rarely practiced and would in any event have much less effect than in those denominations where the community is more tight-knit. Excommunication can occur and was notably applied by the Mennonite Brethren to members who joined the military during the Second World War. Service in the military is generally not permitted, but service in the legal profession or law enforcement is acceptable. Outreach and help to the wider community at home and abroad is encouraged. The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is a leader in foreign aid provision.

Art DeFehr is a successful businessman, widely known and honored for his philanthropic work. He played a major initiating role in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, LCC International University (Klaipeda, Lithuania), Canadian Mennonite University, International Development Enterprises, and immigration policy, including the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He has also been involved in humanitarian projects in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Somalia, Ethiopia, and the Soviet Union. Art and Leona DeFehr are seasonal residents of Winnipeg and San Miguel de Allende when they are not traveling the world. Leona will be the service pianist and provide special music.

The UU Fellowship meets every Sunday at 10:30am at La Posada de la Aldea, Ancha de San Antonio 15, and welcomes people of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Visitors are invited to attend the service and then join the UUs for coffee and snacks afterwards. The room is wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit our website at


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