Hymns unite Swiss Reformed, Anabaptists

May 25, 2015 by and

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LEOLA, Pa. — A different kind of hymn sing took place May 6 at the Reiff farm near Leola.

A Swiss group belonging to the Reformed Church sings May 6 at a worship service on a farm near Leola, Pa. The hymn sing brought together members of Amish, Old Order Mennonite, Mennonite Church USA and other faith traditions. — Dale D. Gehman

A Swiss group belonging to the Reformed Church sings May 6 at a worship service on a farm near Leola, Pa. The hymn sing brought together members of Amish, Old Order Mennonite, Mennonite Church USA and other faith traditions. — Dale D. Gehman

Twenty people from Switzerland, mostly from the Reformed Church tradition, gathered with a wide variety of U.S. Anabaptists for worship.

The event brought together Amish; Wenger, Groffdale and Weaverland Old Order Mennonites; members of Mennonite Church USA and other faith traditions.

Rahel Meier of Zurich was impressed that different Anabaptist groups came together for the event.

“Boundaries didn’t exist any more,” she said. “The songs from both sides — Swiss and Anabaptists — were building bridges and enabled talking to one another like good old friends. We have been traveling many miles, and they have opened their door for us.”

Brigitte Gerber, who comes from a village near the Täuferhöhle, the “Anabaptist cave” where early Anabaptists worshiped in secret, was among the participants.

“During the singing, this idea came to my mind: Centuries ago the Anabaptists were singing their songs in prison,” she said. “Today we are singing our different songs in one and the same room. Reconciliation is about to happen in a delicate way.”

The stop was part of a 13-day tour that began in Philadelphia and included stops in Lancaster, in Holmes and Wayne counties in Ohio, and at Niagara Falls and the Finger Lakes.

Peter Dettwiler, pastor and ecumenical officer for the Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton of Zurich, organized the tour, his fifth, with Lancaster planners Don and Joanne Hess Siegrist.

“These Swiss were awestruck by the spiritual Alps they felt here in Pennsylvania and by the Swiss ways they saw within our communities,” Joanne Hess Siegrist said.


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Mennonite World Review invites readers’ comments on articles. To promote constructive dialogue, editors select the comments that appear, just as we do with letters to the editor in print. These decisions are final. Writers must sign their first and last names; anonymous comments are not accepted. Comments do not appear until approved and are posted during business hours. Comments may be reproduced in print, and may be edited if selected for print.

  • E Knapp

    Me and Phil J Yoder were there! It was pretty cool to witness, and to hear Amish yodeling. Also saw James Nolt and Myron Showalter in the crowd. — Evan Knappenberger

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