Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Mennonite Game

Have you ever played the Mennonite game?

Chances are unless you have a Mennonite background or you are native to the county in Pennsylvania I'm from that's known for it's large Mennonite & Amish communities, you haven't.

The Mennonite game is very similar though to the whole Seven Degrees of Separation concept (or Seven Degrees to Kevin Bacon).  Just with a Mennonite twist.

When you meet a new person and they learn your last name, if it sounds Mennonite or Amish in nature (ours does), they are likely to dig a little deeper to figure out who your mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, cousin, father's cousin once removed, etc. etc. is.  And, chances are, they will at least know someone in your family.  And, most likely you'll also find out you are related...however distantly.

It really is like a game.  And, it's quite popular in our area.  It's the way people make a connection with each other.  And, it's a beautiful holdover from those days when everyone really did know everyone else.  My grandfather was so talented at this when he was still alive.  It was as though he had pages & pages of geneaologies stored in his brain.

My own family has a Mennonite background on my father's side, and a Brethren background on my mother's side.  At one time both families were conservative (i.e - the women wore cape dresses - a dress with an extra panel across the chest & back, and head coverings, the men also dressed conservatively in black pants & jackets, white shirts).  By my mother & father's generation the conservative dress had been set aside.  And, I grew up in a Brethren in Christ church which is still relatively conservative, but most people wore regular dress.

My husband also has Mennonite background on his father's side.  His father actually grew up in the Pike Church (also known as the Stauffer Mennonite Church).  This is an Old Order Mennonite group (we call them 'Pikers') that shuns electricity & modern transportation.  The group still uses horse & buggy and is very similar to the Amish in this way.  As a young man John's dad did not choose to join the Pike Church.  His own mother & father (John's grandparents) chose to leave the church at one point and were shunned by those friends & family that were still part of the church.

(Interesting sidenote:  The house that John & I own was built by and owned up until 2000 by John's great-uncle.  This was his grandfather's brother, Daniel.  Daniel and his wife were part of the Pike church too and remained so their whole lives.  Daniel's son Wesley (my Father-in-law's cousin) still lives on this same road.  So, we are neighbors to him and his wife.  His wife, Marla wrote a book about our little house and the family that raised 9 children in it!  Anytime, I feel cramped with 4 children in our small house, I remind myself of this.)

Anyway,  the video that follows is one that was posted on Facebook by some friends.  If you know about the Mennonite game you will probably find this song pretty amusing.  If not, you probably won't get it.  But, you can still watch the video and see pictures of the types of conservative Mennonite groups that are the large portion of the community in the area where I live.


  1. I love it!
    What does part Brethren mean?
    I have never heard of it.
    Do you read Christian Amish romance novels?
    They are my favorite.

    *Keep meaning to tell you - great job on your weight loss.

  2. Love it, Karen! I recognized a person or 2 in the pictures. I believe I played that game with you when we met. :)

  3. This is great, Karen! I'm very familiar with the Mennonite game- it can get pretty lengthy when your last name is a common Mennonite one:-). I had never heard this song before- very cute:-).

  4. Oh that is so great. My husbands family is Mennonite. They make their own dresses, no t.v. etc. Except they wear black little hats. I can't remember the proper term for them. We have books and calendars telling us all about the family when everyone was born married died you name it. It is wonderful. I have learned so much about cooking and living our life a little more simple.I love family gatherings. You know we just might be related.Love it love it.

  5. We are brethren and from PA and yes we play it ironically on facebook! (the scandal). We go to a mega brethren church over 1k member that actively show up and we all know each other and many of us are related but all are brethren in Christ. Where are you guys from to know so much about the Amish, Mennonite, brethren?

  6. okay to funny and to make it even worse...I went back and listened to the song and laughed! Having just birthed another kid crossed my legs too. I have been and often go to many of those towns. I live surrounded by Youders and yes my cousin(s) are a Schneider!

  7. I just put it up on my facebook account too. Everyone around here will get a good laugh :)

    Karen Huse Clifton!/karen.clifton

  8. I forwarded the video to a friend who was raised Mennonite, and she actually recognized some of the faces!! How cool is that? She said she was going to pass it along to her friends. BTW, she is no longer Mennonite, we are friends from LCBC.


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