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The now widely distributed Mennonite Church began in central Europe and Holland in the 16th century. By the early 18th century the Mennonite Church was becoming truly worldwide with the arrival of Mennonite settlers in North America. In 1700 the distribution of baptized members was probably as follows: Holland 80,000, Switzerland 500, Palatinate 500, Northwest Germany with Holstein 1,000, West Prussia and associated areas 7,500, Hungary and Slovakia 500, making a total of 90,000 in Europe, plus a small handful of 25 in the newly established Germantown settlement in Pennsylvania.

By 1850 world membership had declined 25% due exclusively to the formidable decline in Holland. The distribution of baptized members can be calculated roughly as follows: Holland 25,000, Switzerland 500, France 500, South Germany 1,000, Northwest Germany 1,500, West Prussia etc. 7,500, South Russia 10,000, Eastern United States 20,000, Ontario 1,500; total 67,500.

Fifty years later, by 1900, the total Mennonite Membership more than doubled to 150,000 with the strong expansion in Russia to 40,000, the United States to 50,000, and Canada to 25,000, though the rest of Europe remained largely static. By this time the North American continent had become the home of half of the Mennonite population.

In 1925 Christian Hege provided the numbers of baptized members and their children for the first Mennonite World Conference, and in 1943, the Warte Jahrbuch published similar numbers1:

Country 1925 1943
Netherlands 68,000 70,000
Germany and Danzig 19,000 15,000
Poland 2,300 2,000
Russia 111,500 80,000
Switzerland 1,500 2,000
France 3,000 4,000
Austria 1,000
United States 250,000 175,000
Canada 50,000 111,000
Mexico 3,000 10,000
Paraguay 6,000
Brazil 2,000
Mission Fields 8,000 1,000
Total 516,300 479,000

1Cornelius Krahn has noted that the 1925 estimate for the United States seems rather high. He also notes that the 1943 number for Canada is based on the 1941 Canadian census figure of 111,376 Mennonites.

By 1958 Mennonite migration had expanded into the South and Central American countries of Mexico, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Honduras (total 25,000 members). By missionary outreach it expanded into three continents: Asia, including Java (Indonesia) in 1851, India in 1899, China in 1905, and Japan (Taiwan and Vietnam later) in 1949; Africa beginning with Belgian Congo in 1910 (Dem. Rep. Congo), and Tanganyika (Tanzania) in 1934; and South America with missionaries to Argentina in 1917, and to Colombia in 1945. In 1958 the total membership in these younger churches was 65,000, distributed by continents as follows: Africa 28,000, Asia 36,000, and South America 1,000. Meanwhile the Mennonite Church had been wiped out in West Prussia in 1945, and decimated in Russia 1917-1930 and 1940-1955, but had grown substantially again in Holland, and very substantially in North America by emigration from Russia (1922-1930, 1947-1950), in addition to the natural growth. The total world membership had again more than doubled in the base countries, in 1958 reaching 325,000, and together with the young churches in Asia and Africa had approached 400,000, of which total half was in the United States-Canada block.

The following world membership distribution between 1948 and 2015 by continents and countries represents the best available information concerning Mennonite, Brethren in Christ, and Church of the Brethren churches. Some numbers are estimates.

Year 1948 1958 1978 1984 1990 1997 2000 2003 2006 2009 2012 2015
World Mennonite Membership 262,1872 390,587 613,350 728,746 856,407 1,060,143 1,206,995 1,297,721 1,478,275 1,614,726 1,774,720 2,115,195
Africa 27,809 85,871 107,267 176,462 322,708 405,979 451,959 529,438 592,106 679,053 736,801
Angola 192 1,250 2,600 17,698 11,176 10,961 10,920 18,854 33,606
Benin 56
Botswana 61 97  177 211
Burkina Faso 13 57 80 180 230 500 315 420 585
Burundi 894
Congo, Dem. Rep. of 26,000 59,548 66,408 112,906 175,837 183,040 194,119 216,268 220,444 235,202 235,852
Congo, Rep. of 16 23 598 622
Eritrea 400 400 400
Ethiopia 150 5,000 7,200 10,000 57,011 73,219 98,025 130,731 172,306 224,407 255,493
Ghana 27 607 854 1,200 3,022 3,537 4,101 4,820 5,014 5,109 5,213
Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) 1,125 1,300 1,300 1,100 1,100 1,100
Kenya 1,200 2,700 4,900 11,646 27,668 31,556 28,392 33,561 34,566 37,172
Malawi 420 229 1,540 3,500 6,763 4,186 4,185 5,744
Mozambique 718 2,035 5,835 7,514 7,843
Namibia 180 630 630 300 300
Nigeria 3,333 5,000 6,873 7,268 9,454 11,373 20,821 19,167 19,173 19,603
Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau 39 45 55 110
Somalia 100 100
South Africa 107 283 383 950 1,258 1,791 1,675 2,033
Tanzania 1,632 10,045 13,616 20,078 32,100 50,000 50,000 50,560 64,534 64,534 65,456
Togo 76 144 204 204 204 72
Uganda 109 188 380
Zambia 2,455 6,000 6,632 12,026 13,350 15,374 20,626 14,721 17,946 18,772
Zimbabwe 3,583 5,184 12,039 20,606 24,709 29,213 33,453 36,704 42,446 45,284
1948 1958 1978 1984 1990 1997 2000 2003 2006 2009 2012 2015
Asia, Pacific and Australia 2,112 36,013 74,257 113,566 147,543 157,075 184,049 208,155 241,420 265,447 315,645 431,313
Australia 500 12 33 45 48 50 57 285 320 334
Bangladesh 14
Cambodia 200
China / Hong Kong 4,0003 35 59 90 90 90 141 193 224 217
China / Macau  21 30
India 28,086 35,040 44,048 76,670 87,466 90,006 127,348 146,095 156,922 149,849 256,611
Indonesia 2,112 3,343 34,700 62,911 65,660 62,823 87,802 71,302 72,624 88,458 108,528 111,372
Japan 494 1,955 2,710 2,962 3,450 2,874 3,292 2,898 2,967 2,985 2,802
Kazakhstan 300 300 300 300
Kyrgyzstan 200 200 200 200
Myanmar 1,012 1,612 1,993
Nepal 750 594 789 912 1,029
Philippines 1,005 2,500 666 1,576 2,060 2,437 3,735 3,799 1,036 1,381
Singapore 16 20 48 80 80 60 78
South Korea 60 45 45 60 102
Taiwan 90 907 1,200 1,493 1,494 1,028 1,678 1,658 1,717 1,879 1,782
Thailand 111 658 42,368
Vietnam 150 150 115 121 1,100 12,882 8,022 12,700 10,500
1948 1958 1978 1984 1990 1997 2000 2003 2006 2009 2012 2015
Europe 71,079 95,854 96,011 92,693 68,536 61,886 60,921 53,272 52,222 64,740 64,575 64,610
Albania 30
Austria 12 182 1,050 300 360 385 300 416 424 368 369
Belgium 24 100 85 40 39 15 35 48 35 35 35
France 2,200 2,700 2,300 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,046 2,050 2,100 2,100 2,100 2,078
Germany 12,900 12,078 10,068 11,369 18,516 39,610 39,779 31,677 32,776 46,067 46,757 47,202
German Refugees in Denmark 700
Great Britain 30 27 88 103 112 232 291 289 326
Ireland 10 10 10 15 15 22 25 25 25
Italy 90 46 66 129 189 228 258 258 250 250 200
Lithuania 200 200 203
Luxembourg 42 50 100 105 100 100 110 110 110
Moldova 10 10
Netherlands 44,500 39,000 25,589 20,200 18,000 13,500 12,203 11,000 10,200 9,025 8,030 7,680
Poland 215 10
Portugal 20 35 55 100 150 150 170
Romania 53 74 63 67
Russia (CIS) 40,000 55,000 55,000 26,200 3,350 3,350 5,000 3,000 3,000 3,000 3,000
Russian Refugees in Europe 8,822
Spain 28 214 120 152 160 153 308 379 376
Switzerland 1,700 1,900 2,626 2,750 3,000 2,500 2,500 2,500 2,500 2,500 2,500 2,350
Ukraine 254 281 409 499
1948 1958 1978 1984 1990 1997 2000 2003 2006 2009 2012 2015
Latin America and the Caribbean 8,360 18,479 44,211 75,229 83,366 102,496 112,128 133,155 155,531 168,464 186,339 199,912
Antigua & Barbados4 725 725 725
Argentina 738 1,230 1,516 2,100 3,070 3,632 4,448 4,448 5,522 4,678 4,974
Bahamas 40 34 27 25
Belize 1,522 1,660 1,592 3,131 3,318 3,575 4,001 4,129 4,817 5,405
Bolivia 12 8,000 6,203 6,763 6,714 13,175 13,275 15,417 18,848 24,988 26,661
Brazil 604 1,632 3,462 4,785 6,209 6,690 7,636 8,262 9,856 11,058 12,873 14,748
Chile 390 1,200 1,452
Colombia 300 1,325 2,633 1,800 2,515 3,110 2,910 2,965 3,031 2,825 3,644
Costa Rica 303 850 1,218 2,025 2,094 2,719 2,831 1,784 1,978 3,869
Cuba 13 45 70 350 2,070 3,279 3,373 6,361 8,664
Dominican Republic 975 1,800 2,600 2,902 3,106 4,626 4,587 5,682 6,164 5,780
Ecuador 15 140 325 700 810 950 1,050 1,270 1,340
El Salvador 75 257 462 438 535 588 620 713 909
Grenada 46 45 8
Guatemala 320 1,789 4,295 5,972 6,250 6,673 6,966 14,301 14,869 9,496
Guyana 300 300
Haiti 900 914 924 1,606 1,265 3,827 3,382 4,617 5,566
Honduras 50 750 2,850 8,020 10,245 10,546 20,716 21,771 17,789 18,008 21,175
Jamaica 64 300 385 422 557 660 731 638 686 674 733
Mexico 5,353 7,348 13,800 31,161 19,626 20,689 16,417 19,688 25,958 29,277 32,036 33,881
Nicaragua 290 1,732 3,917 6,600 7,150 9,275 13,421 11,342 10,401 11,501
Panama 700 400 700 700 1,000 750 750 537 750 820
Paraguay 2,403 6,189 9,700 14,076 19,898 25,009 26,948 27,693 29,461 32,217 33,251 34,579
Peru 150 444 550 540 937 986 907 1,524
Puerto Rico 365 765 909 868 752 639 540 546 520 604 798
Trinidad and Tobago 44 110 160 155 130 138 270  280 300
Uruguay 1,768 769 971 877 924 1,004 1,220 1,431 1,442 1,457 1,464
Venezuela 85 120 591 619 704 725 538 546 596
1948 1958 1978 1984 1990 1997 2000 2003 2006 2009 2012 2015
North America 160,636 212,432 313,000 339,991 380,500 415,978 443,918 451,180 499,664 523,969 529,108 682,559
Canada 46,972 52,987 88,500 101,197 114,400 128,633 124,150 127,851 131,384 136,866 137,208 143,720
United States 113,664 159,445 224,500 238,794 266,100 287,345 319,768 323,329 368,280 387,103 391,900 538,839

2The numbers for 1948 do not include any members in Africa, where Mennonite missions work existed in several countries including Congo and Tanzania. The numbers also do not include any members in China, India, and Russia.

3The number for China and Hong Kong in 1958 is an estimate, and is probably an accurate estimate for 1948.

4Between 1990 and 2000 the number for Antigua and Barbados includes Barbados, Barbuda, Dominica, French St. Martin, Grenada, Guyana, St. Vincent, and the US Virgin Islands.

[edit] Bibliography

Krahn, Cornelius. "Mennonites - Numerically Speaking." In Mennonite World Conference 1948: Souvenir. N. p.: n. p., [1948?]: 22-24.

Lichdi, Diether Götz and Loretta Kreider, eds. Mennonite World Handbook: Mennonites in Global Witness. Carol Stream, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1990: 326-327.

Mennonite World Conference. "World Directory." 2010. Web. 2 April 2010. http://www.mwc-cmm.org/en15/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13&Itemid=16.

Mennonite and Brethren in Christ World Directory 1998. Strasbourg: Mennonite World Conference, 1998.

Mennonite Yearbook and Directory (1959).

World Directory: Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Related Churches 2012 = Directorio mundial: Iglesias Menonitas, de los Hermanos en Cristo y afines 2012 = Répertoire mondial: Églises Mennonites, Frères en Christ et Apparentées. N.p.: Mennonite World Conference, 2012.

[edit] Additional Information

For the most recent statistics see theMennonite World Conference site.


Author(s) Harold S. Bender
Sam Steiner
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published January 2013



[edit] Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S., Sam Steiner and Richard D. Thiessen. "World Mennonite Membership Distribution." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2013. Web. 3 Dec 2016. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=World_Mennonite_Membership_Distribution&oldid=133834.

APA style

Bender, Harold S., Sam Steiner and Richard D. Thiessen. (January 2013). World Mennonite Membership Distribution. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 3 December 2016, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=World_Mennonite_Membership_Distribution&oldid=133834.




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Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Kitchener, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 980-981. All rights reserved.


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