Mennonites in Orange Walk, Belize
As of 2008, there are close to 10,000 conservative Russian Mennonites living in Belize. In addition to this there are another 2,000 mostly Kriol and Mestizo Belizeans who have converted to Mennonitism. Mennonites living in Belize are among the most traditional and conservative amongst all the Russian Mennonites in Central America.
* The first Mennonites came mainly from Swiss and German roots, with many of the important martyrs of the early church coming from the area around Zurich. To escape persecution, many Mennonites fled western Europe for the more accommodating religious climate of the Americas or Catherine the Great's Russia, giving these two groups distinctly different cultura l heritages.
** Mennonites are a branch of the Christian church, with roots in the radical wing of the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Part of the group known as Anabaptists (because they rebaptized adult believers), the Mennonites took their name from Menno Simons, a Dutch priest who converted to the Anabaptist faith and helped lead it to prominence in Holland by the mid-16th century.
(The Amish, who separated from the Mennonites in the late 1600's, are widely known for their plain dress and rejection of modern technology and conveniences.)