Swiss project highlights reconciliation in Bern

'Stations' on Anabaptist history the product of improving relationships

Oct 8, 2018 by and

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A decade ago in Switzerland, a process of reconciliation emerged among Anabaptists and contemporary representatives of the government that oppressed them during the Reformation. To make that reconciliation visible, a project to highlight Anabaptist history in Bern was dedicated with an opening ceremony Aug. 24.

Members of Bern Mennonite Church sing at an opening ceremony of the Bern Stations Way Aug. 24 in Bern Minster, a Swiss Reformed cathedral. The path is a set of clues focused on the city’s Anabaptist history.—Beat Loosli

Members of Bern Mennonite Church sing at an opening ceremony of the Bern Stations Way Aug. 24 in Bern Minster, a Swiss Reformed cathedral. The path is a set of clues focused on the city’s Anabaptist history. — Beat Loosli

The Stationen Weg (Stations Way) is a scavenger hunt about the Reformation and Anabaptist persecution developed out of a partnership between Bern Mennonite Church and the local Reformed Church parish of Münster.

The game presents each stop as a set of clues based on Anabaptist history. Like the early Mennonite church, some aspects are hidden in plain sight in a series of codes and hidden messages focused on the city’s Anabaptist history.

Church and political authorities in Bern cooperated closely on anti-Anabaptist mandates from the 16th century into the 18th century. Spies and Täuferjägern (Anabaptist hunters) worked to jail people who didn’t submit to the state-established Reformed Church.

This dark chapter of Swiss history was not openly talked about until the “Anabaptist Year” was celebrated in 2007 in the nearby Emmental region, home to many Mennonites. A reconciliation service eventually followed in Bern’s Reformed Church cathedral, known as the Minster.

As the Stations Way gained momentum, other organizations became involved, including the Swiss Mennonite Conference, the City of Bern and other Christian organizations.

“To me, the working group was symbolic,” said Bern Mennonite Pastor Dorothea Loosli at the portion of the Aug. 24 opening ceremony held at the Bern mayor’s Erlacherhof official offices. “It was a jigsaw puzzle to create what is happening here.

“After a yearlong process, there is always a point where the parts could have been too mixed up, but our stalwart community worked together to strengthen a shared future.”

Beginning at the cathedral, the path leads participants on a roughly one-and-a-half-mile journey through history in German and English.


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