All traditions welcome at EMU

While many EMU students come from Mennonite churches, more than half of our student body comes from other faith traditions. More than 30 religious groups are represented on campus from all over the world.

Mennonites at EMU and peace-oriented Catholic and Protestant groups have much in common. Mennonites are distinctive among followers of Jesus in being among the group of “historic peace churches,” along with the Church of the Brethren and Quakers.1

*Regardless of faith or tradition, EMU students enjoy clubs, sports and other activities typical on most college campus.

Do people dress differently?

While you may occasionally see a “plain” dressing Mennonite on campus, you won’t be able to tell most Mennonite students by their clothing choices. Since EMU attracts a diverse student body, especially with our Intensive English Program and our world-renowned Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, you may also see people with distinctive clothing from other cultures and parts of the world, including Muslim women in veils.

Mennonite who are part of a plainer tradition often wear distinctive clothing – for women, head coverings and dresses and, for men, white shirts and dark, loose slacks with special suit coats, especially on Sundays.

EMU is part of Mennonite Church USA, whose members generally cannot be identified by their appearance. These church members live in modern homes, drive vehicles, and pursue higher education. Many Mennonites do, however, embrace “simple living” as part of their call to respect God’s earth and consume fewer resources. This “more-with-less” lifestyle can include recycling in addition to growing vegetables to preserve for use year-round, alternative transportation (bicycles!), and thrift shopping.

Peacebuilding and EMU, a Christian university in Virginia

Peace and restorative justice are common topics of conversation here. Peacebuilding and development majors explore the complexities of working for social change, and student groups such as Peace Fellowship often organize campus activities and host campus speakers.

Things you will likely find

Eastern Mennonite University graduates take photos during commencementWhile the use of technology is limited in plain Mennonite communities, it’s not here. We’ve all got our iPads and smartphones, and our computer science and digital media programs enjoy a new advanced media lab with top-quality equipment. Among Christian colleges, EMU is one of the few to offer a major in photography.

  • Campus worship with music. Mennonites are renowned for their mastery of four-part a cappella singing, but campus also bustles with instrumental music (both classical and contemporary), global music sparked by international travel and students, and contemporary worship events.
  • Class discussions on policies and issues pertaining to peace and conflict, service work, sustainability, Godly relationships, care for each other, pledging allegiance to a nation (or not), and ethics in the workplace. EMU is committed to preparing students for life, not just for a job. Exploring your faith and listening respectfully to the viewpoints of others are part of the campus ethos.
  • Students working in the field, getting real-life experience. On-the-job experience and internships are required for many majors. Internships in all subject areas are available year-round through EMU’s Washington Community Scholars’ Center in urban D.C.
  • Students having fun! Athletic events (NCAA or intramurals) occur throughout the year. The campus activities council shows movies each weekend, organizes midnight bowling, skiing at nearby Massanutten Resort, hiking/camping in the mountains, and more. You won’t want to miss the barn dance in the fall and the semi-formal in the winter!

To learn more about EMU’s supporting denomination, Mennonite Church USA, visit www.thirdway.com/Menno or www.mennoniteusa.org. For further explanation on the role of Mennonite higher education read this news release from the presidents of Mennonite Church USA colleges, universities and seminaries.


1. Historic Peace Churches. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online.