From the beginning, Anabaptists faced persecution for their radical beliefs, and over 2,500 fell prey to martyrdom. For this reason and others, Anabaptism never coalesced into a unified movement.
Schisms and Sects
By the end of the 16th century, the three leading Anabaptist groups were the Swiss Brethren, the Mennonites, and the Hutterites. By the end of the 17th century, the Swiss Brethren had divided into Mennonite and Amish factions, and another Anabaptist group, the Schwarzenau Brethren, had emerged.
Missions and Expansion
Anabaptist migration patterns derived from their desire to live in peace, a desire that led most Anabaptist groups to migrate to North America. Some of these North American Anabaptist groups later sponsored mission efforts in Africa, Asia, and South America.
Exploration and Conquest
Most early Anabaptists challenged the Constantinian idea of a state church, and most rejected violence as an option for Christians. Indeed, pacifism has long been a distinctive mark of Anabaptist Christianity.
Due to missionary efforts and migration, Anabaptism is now a global faith. Some Anabaptist groups, often called "Old Orders," dress plainly and reject many modern technologies. Others Anabaptists are quite acculturated to their surrounding world.