1492 – 1559
Menno Simons was born in Friesland, Holland. Little is known of his early life and education. In 1524 he was ordained to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church; however, his study of the New Testament produced some doubts concerning many of the Roman doctrines. Luther’s writings influenced him to leave the Roman Church. Simons’ preaching thereafter is described as evangelical rather than sacramental.
Simons went farther than either Luther or Calvin in rejecting the teachings of Romanism and he identified himself with the Dutch Anabaptists. He was baptized in 1537 by Obbe Philip. His fame as a writer and as a preacher grew, and soon the Anabaptists of that area acknowledged him as their leader.
In his church discipline, which was drawn from the Swiss Baptists, silent prayer was common, and sermons were without texts. He taught that neither Baptism nor Communion conferred grace upon an individual, but that grace was obtained only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. His preaching and influence were such that many of the Dutch Anabaptists adopted his name and thereafter were known as Mennonites.