The Mennonite Game

The generations gather at the family reunion

The generations gather at our family reunion

One of my favorite things about being born into a family with Amish-Mennonite roots is the deep appreciation of family history and belonging which you are given. As a young child with Anabaptist ancestors,  you quickly learn there are two things of great importance.

The family reunion

Aunts at the family reunion

Lesson one – your family genealogy. My father is a brilliant steward of our family’s history and stories. One year he purchased the most recent edition of something we call “The Fisher Book”. (A record with thousands of Amish-Mennonite relatives.) My little brother was so excited to find his name in the new printing of the “Fisher Book” that he circled the text in dark black ink – not something you typically do in a very expensive and significant ancestral document. I’m sure someday his descendants will enjoy seeing the mark he made on history!

Reminiscing at the family reunion

Reminiscing at the family reunion

After you gain a basic understanding of your family line, you learn a second critical skill – how to play the Mennonite game. This quote explains the activity nicely.

The goal of this game is to see how quickly two Mennonites, meeting each other for the first time can get to know each other’s family ancestry and establish how many of each other’s relatives they know. While some participants may play this game reluctantly due to peer pressure, others seem to play for the sheer fun and challenge of it. In any case participants likely believe that knowing something of another person’s familial ancestry helps to understand that person better. – Bruno Dyck

Game time at the family reunion

Game time at the family reunion

When two people of Amish-Mennonite descent meet, this phenomenon never fails to surface. I don’t often have the opportunity to play it as I’ve lived in Texas (which is well outside of “Amish country”) for most of my life. But I love brushing up on my skills any time I’m around someone who may be related to me.

I’m closing this post with a video that sums up the Mennonite game perfectly. It may not be particularly interesting if you have no experience with Amish or Mennonite culture. But if in fact you do know about this “game”, I can assure you that you’ll be laughing in a matter of seconds.

Click here to read more posts related to lessons I’ve learned from my Amish family, in my #write31days project.


Playing The Mennonite Game 

Exploring Congregational Clans by Bruno Dyck


11 thoughts on “The Mennonite Game

    • Thank you for reading the post, Susan! I wish I was headed to Lancaster for an October “cousin reunion”! It’s so beautiful there this time of year. Happy you enjoyed the video, I love it too.

  1. I love your blog. This is also true here in East Tn where I am from. I meet someone and hear a familiar name and start asking “Are you related to so and so?” or “i bet you knew my Dad…” I have no Amish ancestors as far as I know but have met many relatives and others who might as well be related in just this way…including teachers when I was in school!!!

    • Carol Anne, I appreciate your comment! It seems the family roots run deep in small town America, and I love the interaction we make when connecting the dots of shared history. Eastern Tennessee is a beautiful spot of the country!

  2. Love your blog, which I discovered when recommended by my cousin on Facebook! I have Amish ancestors also but now live in Arkansas Ozarks. I have also found that it’s not only Amish and Mennonites that “play a game” to discover that they have common kinfolks.
    I’m sure you are familiar with the Amish “Budget ” newspaper ? A former Amish fellow says Facebook is the modern version of The Budget – “with pictures yet!” LOL

    • Hello Karen, thank you so much for taking time to leave a comment! And many thanks to your cousin for sharing the blog. 🙂 I have fond memories of a vacation in the beautiful Ozarks when I was a teenager. I hope to take my girls some day. And yes! The Budget is wonderful. Haha, I love the Facebook and Budget comparison, “with pictures yet” ;-). So true!

  3. I have no Amish or Mennonite kin, but have been in the Plain circle for 20 years. So we play an abbreviated version of finding someone we know in common. And we generally do!

  4. Pingback: Let’s Play “The Mennonite Game” | Lehman's Country Life

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