Every spring I look forward to leading another JMU sponsored Lifelong Learning class called "Mennonites in the Valley," an up close and personal look at one of the area's more diverse religious groups. This one, scheduled for the Spring B session starting March 14, will be my fourteenth.
In case you're interested, here's this year's course outline, with some details still subject to change:
I. Some Course Goals
A. To become better acquainted with members of a diverse religious group in our area.
B. To understand some of the similarities and differences among Mennonite subgroups.
C. To un-learn some common myths and stereotypes about Mennonites.
D. To increase participants’ appreciation of their own faith history and traditions.
II. Course Outline (classes meet from 9-11 am, except 9-11:45 on 3/28 and 9-12:45 on 4/4)
A. 3/14 Introduction/Overview (Park View Mennonite Church Fellowship Hall, top floor)
1. Survey of Valley Mennonite roots and branches
2. Introductory slide show on Valley Mennonites
B. 3/21 Virginia Conference Mennonites (at Eastern Mennonite High School, rear entrance)
1. Meet in Choral room (Rm. 115, east end of new addition) at 9
2. EMHS Chamber Choir with Jay Hartzler 9:15-9:45 (Choral room)
3. WVPT documentary on area Mennonites: “Silent Grace” 9:50-10:30
4. Menno Simons Historical Library with Lois Bowman (3rd floor, EMU Library)
C. 3/28 Old Order Conference Mennonites (gather at Weavers Mennonite Church, west 33)
1. Brief orientation at historic Weavers Mennonite
2. Car pool to Mountain View Old Order School and/or the Burkholder Buggy Shop
(up to eight persons may visit school during classses)
3. Pleasant View Old Order Church,11-11:30 am, meet with minister Lewis Martin
D. 4/4 Southeastern Conference Mennonites (meet at the Bank Mennonite Church)
1. Historic Bank Church Cemetery
2. “Susanna Heatwole Brunk Ballad,” sung by great-granddaughter Ruth Stoltzfus Jost
3. Interview with Southeastern Conference minister Eldwin Campbell
4. Discussion of Augusta County’s Beachy Amish community (om which I grew up)
5. Home cooked noon meal (optional, at $20) with Old Order Mennonite Janet Shank
E. 4/11 Crossroads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center, 711 Garbers Church Rd. ($4?)
1. Report of church visits and other enrichment activities, writing thank you notes
2. Question/answer period, review and final “exam”
III. Suggested Enrichment Activities
A. Attend a Mennonite worship service or tune in to Park View’s service at WEMC 91.7 FM.
B. Visit Southeastern Mennonite Conference’s Berea Christian School (432-0007).
C. Tour Christian Light Publication and book store (Mt. Clinton Pike and Chicago Avenue).
D. Visit other Mennonite-related enterprises at Shenandoah Heritage Farmers Market, Dayton Farmers Market, Gift and Thrift Shop, Dry River Hay Auction (2nd, 4th and 5th Wed mornings on Rushville Rd), Rocky Cedar Enterprises (2156 Country Store Lane), Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction (Tue & Fri at 2839 Lumber Mill Rd), Riverside Plants (6377 W. Dry River Rd), Onyx Hill Fruit & Plants (6918 Onyx Hill Rd), or Mistimorne Plants (723 Pike Church Rd).
E. Check out Mennonite Church USA website <www.thirdway.com>.
F. Visit EMU’s Menno Simons Historical Library and/or Campus Book Store.
G. Attend Harmonia Sacra Easter Hymn Sing at Harrisonburg Mennonite at 7 pm April 3.