Church Library Catalog

Below is a listing of the books in the Bethany Mennonite Church library.  Please call the church to access the library or simply come on over on a Sunday morning.
Caldwell, Taylor – Great Lion of God
Eby, Omar – The Sons of Adam
Diamant, Anita – The Red Tent
Holmes, Marjorie – Two From Galilee
Price, Eugenia – New Moon Rising
Ward, Graham – Cities of God

Various Maps
Rasmussus, Carl –  NIV Atlas of the Bible
Wright, George E. et al – Historical Atlas to the Bible

Barclay, William – Ambassador for Christ (Paul)
Bender, HS – These are my people, the New Testament Church
Bender, HS – The Anabaptist Vision
Blythe, LeGette – Man on Fire
Brown, Raymond – The Gospel According to John (Vol 1&2)
Browne, Lewis – The Graphic Bible
Clemens, Lois – Woman Liberated
Davidson et al – The New Bible Commentary
Finger, Thomas – Christian Theology, Vol 1&2
Finger, Reta – Daughters of Sarah – Christian Perspective on Sin and Grace
Garber, Julie – For Crying out Loud – Studies in Exodus
Graham, Ruth and Billy – What the Bible is all about
Higgs, Liz Curtis – Bad girls of the Bible
Higgs, Liz Curtis – Really bad girls of the Bible
Kauffman, Daniel – Doctrines of the Bible
Kelly, Balmer – Layman’s Bible Commentary: Vols 1-25
Klinck, Arthur – Home Life in Bible Times
Kreeft, Peter – Between Heaven and Hell
Lockyer, Herbert – All the Apostles of the Bible
MacMaster, Eve – Story Bible Series: 1,2,3,4,5,8,9,10
Macartney, Clarence – Great Women of the Bible
Mauriac, Francois – Life of Jesus
Roth, Alice and Willard – Becoming God’s People Today
Stott, John – Basic Introduction to the New Testament
Vincent, Marvin – The International Critical Commentary:Philippians and Philemon
Wenger, JC – God’s Word Written
Wenger, JC – Separated unto God
Wise, Michael O. et al – The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation

Good News New Testament: Today’s English Version, 4th ed. 1976           7 copies
Holy Bible NIV, 1973                                                            1
The Greatest is Love, paraphrase, 1967                                         4
The New Testament in Modern English, 10th printing, 1965                       2
The New Testament: New International Readers’ Version, 1996            1
Holy Bible Concordance, RSV 1952                                               1
Holy Bible, King James Version, 1611                                           7
The Great News: The New Testament, NIV 1973                            1
The Twentieth Century NT, Modern English Translation                   1
The New Testament, Translation in the language of the people 1950      1
You May Have Life, The Gospel of John, NIV 1973                                2
The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, RSV 1973            1
New Testament, King James Version, 1611                                        2
New Testament with Psalms, Proverbs, tiny                                      3
The Bible, RSV                                                                 4
Good News for Modern Man, the NT in today’s English Version            3

Albom, Mitch – Tuesdays with Morrie
Albus, Harry – The Peanut Man (George Washington Carver, for youth)
Bauman, Elizabeth – Coals of Fire (Youth/Peace)
Bender, HS – Menno Simons Life and Writing
Bulla, Clyde Robert – Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims (for Youth)
Casswell, Reginold -The Blind Poetess Fannie Crosby
Dyck, Cornelius – Twelve Becoming
Erb, Paul – Orrie O Miller
Fuller, Millard – No More Shacks
Gates, Helen Kolb – John Fretz Funk: Bless the Lord O My Soul
Giff, Patricia Reilly – Mother Teresa, Sister to the Poor ((for youth)
Jackson, Travenna – Fannie Crosby a History of 94 years
Keim, Albert – Harold S Bender
King, Coretta Scott – My life with Martin
Krakauer, Jon – Into the Wild
McBride James – The Color of Water
McMullan, Kate – Harriet Tubman, Conductor of the Underground Railroad (for youth)
Mc Neer, May – John Wesley
Rothwell, Helen, A Great Poetess Fannie Crosby
tenBoom, Corrie – The Hiding Place
tenBoom, Corrie – Tramp for the Lord
Theroux,  Phyllis – California and Other States of Grace

Annett, Cora – When the Porcupine moved in
Beskow, Elsa – Pelle’s New Suit
Briggs,  Karen – Crazy for Horses
Fox, Mem – Night Noises
Gans, Roma – Birds Eat and Eat and Eat
Godden, Rumer – The story of Holly and Ivy
Hamilton, Virginia – The People Could Fly – American Black Folk Tales
Kramon, Florence- Eugene and the New Baby
Molarsky, Osmond – Song of the Empty Bottles
Peterson, John – The Littles to the Rescue
Turkle, Brinton – Thy Friend, Obadiah
Vallotton, Annie – From the Apple to the Moon
Webber, Irma – Up above and Down Below
Weygant, Noemi OSB – It’s Autumn!

Barnard, Floy – Bible Friends to Know
Bradford, Barbara Taylor – Children’s stories of the Bible from the Old and New Testaments
Butterworth, Nick – The House on the Rock
Coe, Joyce – The Donkey who served the King
Cook (pub) – Jesus the Friend of Children
deVries, Anne – Story Bible for Older Children (OT)
Dandi, – The story of Daniel
Dandi – The story of Noah
Davidson, Alice Joyce – The story of Jonah
dePaola, Tomie – Bible Stories
Egermeier, Elsie – Picture story Life of Christ
Griffin, Sunny – Daniel and his very good friend
Heifner, Fred – Isaiah, Messenger for God
Hill, Dave – The walls came tumbling down
Jones, Mary Alice – The Ten commandments for children
Kolbrek, Loyal – Samson’s Secret
Kolbrek, Loyal – The man who changed his name
Krentel, Mildred – Two by Two
Latourette, Jane – Noah’s Ark
MacMaster, Eve – 1 – God’s family,  3 – God gives the Lamd, 4 – God’s chosen King , 5 – God’s Wisdom and power, 8 – God Sends his son, 10 – God builds his church
Mandeville, Sylvia – The parable of Two New Houses
Mann, Victor – He remembered to say thank you
Mann, Victor – The seeds that grew to be a hundred
Marshall, Catherine – Story Bible
McElrath, William – Judges and Kings: God’s Chosen Leaders
McKenna, Una – The Man Born Blind
Mueller, Virginia – The Secret journey
My Little Book About – Daniel in the Lion’s Den
My Little Book About – Noah’s Ark
Nixon, Joan Lowery – Five Loaves and Two Fishes
Taylor, Kenneth – The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes
Ulmer, Louise – The Man who learned to give
Ulmer, Louise – The Son who said he wouldn’t
Walker, Jerry – Stories from the Bible – Old Testament
Warren, Mary – The Little Boat that Almost Sank
Warren, Mary – The Lame man who walked again

Coppola, Francis Ford – Koyaanisqatsi
Fox, Brenda – Conviction
Modern Parables – The Shrewd Manager
Modern Parables – Hidden Treasure
Paper Clips

Bender, HS – The Anabaptist Vision
Brinton, Howard H – Friends for 300 Years
Dyck, Anne –  Mennonites around the World
Dyck, Peter and Elfrieda -Up from the Rubble
Graber Miller, Keith – Teaching to Transform
Horsch, John – Mennonites in Europe
Hostetter, C Nelson – Anabaptist- Mennonites Nationwide USA
Hostetler, John – Amish Roots
Hostetler, John – Amish Society
Keuning, J. – The Man in Bearskin
Lederach, Paul M – Seeking what cannot be seen
Martyrs’ Mirror – Thieleman et al
Mennonite Church – Mennonite Confession of Faith (1963)
Religious Society of Friends – Faith and Practice
Rice, Charles S – The Amish Year
Schmell, Wilmer – 40 years in Vermont
Scott, Stephen – Old Order and Conservative Mennonite Groups
Scott, Stephen – Plain Buggies
Shenk, Joseph – Silver Thread
Sloan-Coffin, William – Living the Truth in a world of illusions
Smith, Elmer – Among the Amish
Smith, Elmer – Meet the Mennonites
Smucker, Barbara  – Henry’s Red Sea
Stoltzfus, Grant  – Mennonites of the Ohio and Eastern Conference
Stucky, Solomon – For Conscience Sake
Toews, John B – Czars, Soviets and Mennonites
Toews, John B – Lost Fatherland
Toews, Paul – Mennonites in Society 1930-1970
Wenger, G S – 6000 years of the Bible
Wenger, John Christian -Even unto death
Wenger, John Christian – What Mennonites believe
Wenger, JC – The Mennonite church in America

Allstrom, Elizabeth – You Can Teach Creatively
Ames, Louise Bates – Your Nine Year Old
Drescher, John M – If I were starting my family again
Marzollo, Jean – Superkids
Morrison, – Growing up in the family
National Domestic Violence Hotline – The Lord Hears Your Cries (2)

North/Preheim – Human Sexuality in the Christian Life
Reed, Elizabeth – Helping Children with the Mystery of Death
Olsen et all – Help for Remarried Couples and Families
Strommen, – Five Cries of Families
Trueblood, Elton – The Common Ventures of Life  (Marriage, Birth, Work, Death)

Barrett – The Way God Fights
Bauman, Elizabeth – Coals of Fire (Youth)
Burkholder, JR – Children of Peace
Collins, Gary – Living in Peace
Drescher, John – Why I am a CO
Durnbaugh – The Believers’ Church
Forman – My Enemy, My Brother
Eller, Vernard – The Simple Life
Faith and Life – Weathering the Storm – Christian Pacifist Responses to War
Fry, A.Ruth – Victories without Violence
Hedges, Chris – War is a Force that gives us Meaning
The Hague – Blessed are they who work for peace (written by children)
Kniss,Lloyd – I couldn’t fight, the story of a CO in World War 1
Kraybill, Donald – The Upside-Down Kingdom
Kreider and Goossen – When Good People Quarrel
Lapp, John – Peacemakers in a Broken World
Lasserre, Jean – War and the Gospel
Lind, Millard  – Answer to War
Martin, Jason – The sermon on the mount
Merton, Thomas – Faith and Violence
O’Connor, Elizabeth – The New Community
Peachey, J. Lorne – How to Teach Peace to Children
Peck, M Scott – The Different Drum
Peachey, Titus and LInda  – Seeking Peace
Perkins, John – With Justice for all
Rantisi, Audeh – Blessed are the Peacemakers
Regehr, Ernie – What is Militarism
Rogers, John  – Medical Ethics, Human Choices
Schlabach, Gerald – And who is my Neighbor?
Swift and Oppenheim – The Mustard Seed Process
Umble, Diane Z – Choices for Human Justice
Wenger, JC et al – Series on Peace (small books)
Yoder, Perry B. – Shalom: The Bible’s word for Salvation, Justice, and Peace

Barnes – 15 Minutes Alone With God (For Men)
Buechner, Frederick – Listening to your life: Daily Meditations
Canfield – Chicken Soup for the Soul
Duerk, Judith – Circle of Stones: Woman’s journey to Herself
Hauerwas, Stanley – With the Grain of the Universe
Kasl, Charlotte – Finding Joy
Kaufman, Gordon – In Face of Mystery: A constructive Theology
Keefe, Carolyn – Freedom for me and other human creatures
Lehman – Traces of Treasure
Moore, Thomas – Care of the Soul
Nollman, Jim – Spiritual Ecology
Nouwen, Henri – The Wounded Healer
O-Connor, Elizabeth – Letters to Scattered Pilgrims
O’Hara, Nancy – Just Listen
Peterson, Eugene – Working the Angles: The shape of pastoral integrity
Prather, Hugh – Notes to myself
Raber, Ann – A life of wholeness
Rollins, Peter –  Orthodox Heretic
Rupp, Joyce – Praying our Goodbyes
Warren, Rick – The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I here for?
WEAVINGS – (Clothed with Christ, Impasse, Life in Christ, MInd your Call, Praying the BIble)
Wenger, Linden – Climbing Down the Ladder
WMSC – From Monologue to Dialogue

Benner, Henry et al – Youth Program Ideas
Caduto, Michael J. – A Child of God
Coleman,William – Who, What, When, Where
Chiarei, Brunetto – The Atlas of World Cultures
Horton, Adey – The Child Jesus (art)
Kauffman, Joel – The Nazareth Jesus knew
Keidel, Eudene – African Fables that teach about God
Lehn, Cornelia – I heard Good News Today
Lehn, Cornelia – Peace be with you
MCC – A dry roof and a cow
Mellonie,Brian – Lifetimes
Readers’ Digest – Illustrated dictionary of Bible Life and Times
Smither, Ethel – Picture book of Palestine
UNICEF – Children just like me
Unruh, Fred – Questions I’d like to ask God

deAngeli, Marguerite – Whistle for the Crossing
Beiler, Edna – Adventures of Buttonwood
Beiler, Edna – Mattie Mae
Beiler, Edna -Ten of a Kind
Beiler, Edna – White Elephant for Sale
Bell – Her Bridge to Happiness
Blume, Judy – Iggie’s House
Brenneman, Helen – But Not Forsaken
Brown, Jeanette Perkins – Wishes come true
Burgess, Thornton – Adventures of Sammy Jay
Christian, Mary Blount  – The Goosehill Gang and the Disappearing Dues
Cleveland, Jay – It’s Bright in My Valley
Carroll, Gladys – To Remember Forever
Cleary, Beverly – Beezus and Ramona
Cleary, Beverly – Socks
Doubleday – A Christmas Feast
Etchison, Birdie – Me and Greenley
Faris, Lillie – Bible Story Readers vols. 4 and 5

Fisher, David – Tilly Ballooning
Frantz, Evelyn – A Bonnet for Virginia
Gehman, Clayton – Children of the Conestoga
Giles, Janice – The Enduring Hills
Giles, Janice – Tara’s Healing
Glass, Esther Eby – Aunt Nan and the Miller Five
Glass, Esther Eby – The Miller Five
Godden, Rumer – The Diddakoi
Hamilton, Dorothy – Amanda Fair
Hamilton, Dorothy – Charco
Hamilton, Dorothy – Gina In-Between
Hamilton, Dorothy – Mindy
Hamilton, Dorothy – Rosalie
Hamilton, Dorothy – Scamp and the Blizzard Boys
Hamilton, Dorothy – Winter Caboose
Hamilton, Dorothy – Winter Girl
Hawse, Alberta – Vinegar Boy
Hostetler, Marian – African Adventure
Hostetler, Marian – Fear in Algeria
Hutchens, Paul – The Sugar Creek Gang – The Treasure Hunt
Hutchens, Paul – The Sugar Creek Gang Series 1-9
Jackson, Dave and Neta – The Hidden Jewel
Jenkins – Saddlebag Parson
Jones, Rebecca – Germy Blew It
Kauffman, Christmas Carol – For One Moment
Kauffman, Christmas Carol – Light from Heaven
Kauffman, Christmas Carol – Not Regina
Keene, Carolyn – The flying Saucer Mystery (Nancy Drew)
Long, Lucile – Anna Elizabeth, Seventeen
Martens, Wilfred – River of Glass
Miller, Clara B – To all Generations
Miller, Clara B  – Katie
Miller, Clara B – The Tender Herb
Montgomery, Lucy.M – Anne of the Island
Montgomery, Lucy – The Story Girl Earns Her Name/Road to Avonlea
Moore, Ruth Nulton – Mystery at Indian Rocks
Moore, Ruth Nulton – Mystery of the Lost Heirloom
Moore, Ruth Nulton – Mystery of the Missing Stallions
Moore, Ruth Nulton – Mystery of the Lost Treasure
Nesbit, Jeff – High Sierra Adventure Series 1-4
Reid, John – Bird Life in Wington
Smucker, Barbara – Underground to Canada
Speare – The Bronze Bow
Spyri, Johanna – Heidi
Travis, Lucille – Tirzah
Vermon, Louise – The Secret Church
Vermon, Louise – Ink on his Fingers
Vogt, Esther Loewen – Eight Wells of Elim
Webb, Addison – Song of the Seasons
West, Jessaman – The Friendly Persuasion
White, EB – Charlotte’s Web
White, EB – Stuart Little
White, EB -The Trumpet of the Swan
Wooldridge – Hannah’s House
Yoder, Joseph – Rosanna of the Amish

Alternatives Celebration Catalogue – To Celebrate: Reshaping Holidays and Rites of Passage
Bicksler, Harriet – Called to Stewardship
Black, Donald – Lord, I want to be a Christian Inna my Heart
Bowman, Robert C – A light for my Path
Boone, Edward = Stories of Sacred Songs
Briggs, JR – When God says Jump
Doran, Carol et al – Trouble at the Table
Gilbertson, Merrill – The Way it Was in Bible Times
Good, Merle – Today Pop Goes Home
Fronterhouse, Bob D – Parable Skits for Youth and Adults
Fyock, Joan A et al – Hymnal Companion (two copies)
Keane, Shelia – Prayer: Beginning Again
Kreider, Eleanor – Enter his Gates
Lederach, Paul M ed – Story Collection, the Foundation Series
L’Engle, Madeleine – The Summer of the Great-Grandmother
Matlans, Stuart, et al – How to be a perfect stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook
Meether, Arthur – A Drama for Thanksgiving
Maus, Cynthia Pearl – Christ and the Fine Arts
Miller, John W – Judgment and Hope: Eight plays from the lives of prophets
Miller, Marcia – Bible-playing A Modern Mystery Cycle
MWC – Parables of the Kingdom
Parker, Alice – Melodious Accord: Good singing in church
Parker, Joseph – Prayers for Worship Services
Rahner, Karl – Meditations on Freedom and the Spirit
Roberts, Elizabeth et al – Life Prayers from around the world
Staack, Hagen – Living Personalities of the Old Testament
Stenbock, Evelyn – Mother’s Day and Father’s Day program builder
Stenbock, Evelyn – Thanksgiving program builder
Stoltzfus, Louise – Traces of Wisdom: Amish women and the pursuit of life’s simple pleasures
Stuhlmueller, Carroll – Biblical Meditations for Ordinary Time, weeks 1-9
Stutzman, Ervin R – Welcome: A biblical and practical guide to receiving new members

Ammerman, Leila – Christmas programs No 2
Bartel, Bonnie – The Night The Animals Talked
Batchelor, Mary – The Lion Christmas Book

Beabout, Florence – The Holy Night
Berry, Florence – Follow The Star
Bodker, Cecil – Mary of Nazareth –
Bringman, Dale – A Star is Born

Campbell, John – The Christmas Story
Carrington, Edith et al – Unto Us a Child is Born
Cook David (pub) – Christmas Program Helper No 13
Dargatz, Jan – Fifty-two ways to make Christmas Special
DeKruyter, Arthur – Complete Candlelight Services for Christmas
Fittro, Pat – Christmas Candlelight Programs
Haugan, Randolph (ed) – Christmas
Hendricks, William et al – Handbook of Christmas Programs
Houston, Gary – Six Presents from God
Kalajainen, Larry – An Advent Journey
Lense, Esther – Christmas around the world
Meether, Arthur – Hail to Christmas
Meether, Arthur – A Christmas Remembrance
Miller, Paul – Christmas Program Builder No 38
Miller, Paul – The Missing Jesus
Ramquist, Grace – Christmas Program Builder No 30
Readers’ Digest (Pub) – A Family Christmas
Runk, Wesley – Angel Voices: The messengers of Christmas (2 copies)
Schackel, James – The Shepherds of Bethlehem
Schwab, Betty Lynn – The Magnificat: Mary’s and Ours (2 copies)
Schwab, Betty Lynn – Do you hear what I hear?
Siewert, Alan – an Unlikely Cast
Sorlien, Sandra – Keeping Christmas
Snyder, Esther – Trinity Christmas Helper No 4
Sparks, Judith Ann – Christmas Programs for the Church No 14
Summers, Georgianna – The LIght Shines in the Darkness
Tyndale (Pub)- The Nativity Story
Whitman – The Story of Christmas
Wilkins, Roy J – Come to Bethlehem
Wilson, Etta – The Miracle of Easter
Younger, Dory – Christmas International

Garrison, Peter C – Witnesses to the Cross – Six Dramatic Dialogs for Lent
Hanson, Alan – Eyewitnesses to the Passion
Hull, Richard – Symbols of Sacrifice, Lenten Congregational Resources Year 2
Invitation – Become Who We Are: Easter to Pentecost
Invitation: Come to the Welcome Table, Easter to Pentecost
Invitation – Tell us a Story, Pentecost Season
Joyce, Jon – Conversations During Christ’s Passion
Joyce, Jon – The Lord’s Passion: A Multimedia Series for Lent
Litherland, Janet – The Story of the Passion
Lloyd, Mary Edna – Glad Easter Day
Loots, Barbara – The Story of Easter
Loper, Roger – The Bread the Cup the Call the Challenge
MacKenzie, Sheldon – The Words he Spoke: A Three Hour Service for Good Friday
Miller, Paul – Lenten and Easter Drama Resources
Miller, Paul – A Rumor of Resurrection
Mueller, Robert -Tell their Story
Orbaker, Douglas – Day of Redemption: A Tenebrae Service and Worship Drama for GoodFriday
Parr, Michael – Given and Shed for You
Quisenberry, JB – A Service of Shadows : A Tenebrae Sercie
Quisenberry, JB – The Final Triumph: A One Act Easter Chancel Drama
Rumpf, Oscar – Fourteen Witnesses Soliloquies for Lent
Runk, Wesley – Jesus and the Crowds
Schwartz, Faye – from Birth to Death
Scott, Robert F – Eavesdroppers at the Cross: Seven Lenten Monologues
Wiebe, Gayle – Worship Resources for Lent and Easter
Wyatt, Janice Bennett – Your King Comes! A Palm Sunday Celebration

A History of Bethany Mennonite (@ 60th Anniversary)

From our 60th anniversary celebration.  A historical reading:

Reader 1 Steve: Sixty years ago, it became a congregation I proudly claim the honor, of being the youngest member of that beginning of Bethany Mennonite The three families, the Howards, the Wilmers and the Lloyds (I don’t remember families being called by their last names in those early years) gathered for “The Picture.” There were actually four families that came from Franconia Conference to start the mission church. I don’t know why-“‘the Abes” weren’t in it. But I remember I was sitting there on my mother’s lap. Well, I don’t actually remember that day. Birthday # 2 was still severaliponths away. But I have seen “The Picture” so often that it .just seems that I can remember being there. We all looked so excited and full of energy. This is the look that people get when they. don’t have a clue what the future will bring.

I do remember somethings from those early years, the 50s: Sliding down the old stair railing. Adults didn’t seem to realize God meant it to be part of a children’s playground; Multigenerational church socials in the damp and dark church basement Funny what stays in your memory. Lois KuIp and Lester Lerch singing “Do-Re-Mi” at a talent show in that basement. Took them a l000000ng time between giggling spasms to complete the song.

I remember sitting in the hay wagons every fall behind Howard and Wilmer’s Ford tractors eating crisp Macs. Those dark back roads of Vermont. I learned to, keep an eye out for the tree

branches that might sweep down and get you. Sometimes there were older boys hanging in those branches trying to scare us I was not scared. Hay rides in October were how we Mennonites got around celebrating Halloween.

I remember the four girls, Judy, Judy, Lois, and Ruthy, singing in a quartet one Sunday evening service. Actually I remember them giggling while we all tried to sit in stoic reverence as they tried to finish the song. My sister Judy and I were remembering this a couple weeks ago when we were In Vermont for our Moyer family reunion Judy remembers Ruthy being the #1 giggler.

For Sunday evening services we’d often have films, usually from MCC, and I’d watch the men rewinding the film on the big movie projector. Couldn’t wait till I was old enough to be the man who had that job. Of course when I was old enough to be ‘the man,’ that projector was an ancient relic.

Everybody, and I do mean everybody, gathered for spring cleaning, inside and outside. twas, for me, one of the perks of male hierarchy. I got to work outside. Yes! That Mennonite work ethic. My father modeled it even in later years when he tried not to let even a heart attack keep him from being there and doing his share.

I remember growing up in two worlds. The church world and the Vermont secular world. They seemed very different. I sure didn’t find good answers for how to move from one to the other. We all kind of learned the hard way, as individuals, families and a congregation, that transplanting ethnic Mennonites into a, well yes, foreign culture, was probably not the best way of planting a church. The lines of what is right and what is wrong are not always so clear when we are in the middle of it Hard lessons were learned, maybe too hard sorretimes I saw my parents having to learn and relearn and still remain faithful to their call

I remember when Nevin and Lourene came to be pastors. At the time, we said that Nevin came to be the pastor. Looking back, I can only think of them as being co-pastors. On Nevin’s 24th birthday, I was 12. He became a mentor for me. When I think of God intervening in my life, I wonder where I would be if…. and of their importance to Ann and me in our early years of marriage and of things that happen fo which we can find no explanation

Being at Bethany in my coming of age years during Vietnam. Living in the two worlds. We were a peace church. Churches around us were God:and country. The couples coming from Pennsylvania to serve 1-W assignments in Hanover and worshiping with us. Practicing conscientious objection to war. Boys I went to school with going to Vietnam to serve. Some not returning or not the same Most from the lower economic population This remain, s with me today in the war-crazy, inequitable world we live in. 1

I could keep on saying a whole lot more. I suppose we can all wonder, “what if?”  What if a group of nameless church leaders from Franconia Conference in the middle of the 20th century hadn’t decided there was a need to start a church in Plymouth Vermont called Bethany Mennonite (the building they found just happened to be in Bridgewater).

What if my parents, Alice and Lloyd Moyer, hadn’t felt called to serve in the beginnings of that church…? I can’t even begin to imagine how different my life would have been. I am very glad they did what they did.

How many lives would have been different if Bethany Mennonite hadn’t…? Of course, our three children have been heard to say, “What if… our parents hadn’t moved us from Vermont all the way to the west coast and San Diego, California” ……Oh well!

– Brad Moyer was one year old in the summer of 52.


Reader 2 Gwen: When Mennonites first came up here they stayed at the Coolidge Homestead and had Bible School at the Plymouth Church. Clayton was 5 1/2 and Lewis was 4, and both went. Mr. Landis was the minister. The building was. nothing like it is now. There were two big rooms with wooden doors that rolled right back into the wall, and the stairs went straight up from the front door. Every one o my kids went to Sunday School there from when they were 4 years old until they left home. I took a class for 2 or 3 months and read a book got baptized there on October 3, 1959.

I feel the church is like one big happy family. I remember once when Jim and Aldine were here we had a “breaking of bread service.” It wasn’t a regular communion service Each person was given a small bread roll, and We went around and broke off a piece of our roll and gave it to someone else until our roll was gone. That service felt exactly like a great big pair of arms was holding the whole congregatipn in a big hug. It was a wonderful feeling. I asked Carroll Earle how he felt about it and he said he felt exactly the same way.

I didn’t go to church for a lot of-years after they kicked out Mr Mitten I felt if they could kick him out they could kick me out too He was such a generous man Jim Mitten would take wood or potatoes from his own cellar to help someone out. We had a big old bus and he would go clear to the end of the lake and up the Plymouth Notch mountain. He would say, “Does anyone want to get out and push?” He called me the best pumpkin pie maker in Happy Valley. When Peggy was born, Mrs Millen (Katherine) came up every day and bathed the baby and took the dirty diapers and linens away to wash. We were carrying water from the brook at that time When the bishop said that Mr. Millen would have to leave he didn’t say anything, but Katherine lit into him. Fifty seven of us signed a petition asking that he be allowed to stay but he wasn’t allowed. I came back to church after Cliff passed away.


Readers (together) Steve, Gwen, Marcia, Andrew, Anna and Calef: SummerVacation Bible School was BIG


Reader 4 Marcia: I went door to door asking if families would like to send their children.


Reader 2 Gwen: Just before they bought the building here in Bridgewater, they held Bible School at the Pinney Hollow school house.


Reader 5 Andrew: I taught a Bible School class every year from the time we started attending Bethany (47 years ago) until it was discontinued. Bethany was actually started after groups from Pennsylvania came to the area in the summer to teach Vacation Bible School. Members of the church eventually took on the teaching. Transportation for the children was provided using a vehicle owned by the church and then the town school bus. Bible School was Monday through Friday mornings for two weeks. When there were over 100 children, we were unable to accommodate them in the church building so we used the grange hall next door for some classes. Teachers camp from the other churches in Bridgewater and from the community as well as Bethany.


Reader 1 Steve: I am pretty sure that I completed every year of each curriculum . ….. I can’t believe I really did that.


Reader 2 Gwen: I taught my’ first Bible School class when Peggy was 4 years old. I started with nine 4-year-olds but one boy got strep and another cried all morning so I was left with six girls and one boy. That boy could swear up a storm. He never had pennies for the offering. One morning he had a jingly pocket. I asked him what that was. He said, “Pennies.” I asked why he hadn’t put them in the box. He said he didn’t have them then. I asked where he got them. He said out of the box. I asked him why he had done that. He said it was because he never had any pennies. I said, “Well you will novy “Later I kept Ben Derstine and the very young children of the other teachers so they could teach Bible School.


Reader 6 Anna: One of great memories I have is of Bible School. The first time I walked into the church as a young child I felt warmth, joy and love, which made me feel very welcomed. I couldn’t wait till the next day so I could go back, and it hasn’t changed. Now I’m older and doing different things there, but it has the same feeling when I walk in.

Reader 14 Calef: I remember Nevin taking us on a bus into Rutland to go bowling. We’d come back and have hot chocolate at the church. Or Kool Aid and Ritz crackers.


Reader 5 Andrew: As people became more mobile and more women began working outside the home, teachers became more scarce and we decreased to one week Competition from other summer activities also effected attendance. We held Bible School in the evening for at least one year, but attendance remained low. Community children began attending Bethany Birches Camp, and Bible School ended Members of Bethany are very active in the operation of the camp, and we are seeing a great ministry for children there. Jesus said “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven”

Reader 3 Lilli: I remember many fun Sundays in the 50’s when our families got together in the afternoon, for supper and into the evenings On cold, sunny winter afternoons, we’d take fast toboggan rides down Beulah & Howard Kulp’sJong, steep, mountain. We’d take a break inside for hot chocolate by the fireplace. After dark, Howard would play his trumpet, & we’d sing. On Jean & Wilmer Schmell’s fields up behind their barn, we’d sled and learn to ski. We had wooden skis with very !oose bindings. Abe Landis came down one time in his long Sunday overcoat & top hat.

Reader 4 Marcia: We came tb Bethany in the mid ’60s and found it to be an active church. There was year round Sunday school, clubs for the kids during the week, and usually a Bible Study at church or in homes. monthly women’s group knotted quilts and ended each evening with a devotional.


Reader 3 Lilli: In summer, Ruth & Lois would take us kids for rides in their open Jeep on the dirt road behind their house. Some warm days we’d hike to the top of Blueberry Ledges & down the other side to Walt and Faith Rittenhouses.  Lloyd and Alice Moyerhad large snapping turtles in wooden pens in their garage. I don’t know if we ever tasted them at dinner. Alice was a delicious cook & baker. Bessie and Abe Landis, had a large living room for playing all sorts of board and card games. If the weather was warm, we were outside playing softball, badminton, croquet, and hide ‘n seek.


Reader 4 Marcia: Bethany worked closely with the other churches in the area, especially-with the Congregational Church in Bridgewater where Pam Lucas was pastor. When Nevin had a brain aneurysm, the Bridgewater church was very supportive of this congregation in many ways. They held a fund raiser for Nevin by having a community potluck meal that brought many, many people together.


Reader 7 Naomi: Nevin and I came to Bethany in 1963 pregnant with Nevin Kent and also pregnant with ideas for the perfect church. What a rude awakening to find that a church is made up of human beings and so perfection is out of the question! We learned so much about community and what the important things in life are. In 1965 Lloyd & Alice Moyer bought some land in Plymouth. Lloyd told Névin he would like to donate land for a children’s camp. He said he didn’t know how to begin, but the land was there. Lots of Nevin’s time was spent following that dream, and the church was so good about supporting him in this (most of the time.) When Nevin had a brain aneurysm in December of 1979, the church was helpful with the children and all — in the midst of their own grief. In June of 1983 we left for Virginia The church gave us a lovely scrapbook at our farewell.  I look at those 20 years as years of profound learning, and I’m crying as I write and think about those times.


Reader 8 Gerry: I saw the “Face of God” many times through nature during my 17 years of ministry in Vermont. More significantly were the words and actions of people throughout my ministry at Bethany.  Upon my arrival there on June, 1984 with our personal belongings, many people’ came out to help unload the truck. Wilmer Schmell asked if we wanted a garden. We did but we didn’t have the equipment to work a garden. He said, “Oh, I’ll come down tomorrow and plow it for you and ask Carroll Earle to disc it.” Thus began many summers of gardening, with the help of Wilmer and Carroll. During that weekend visit, following worship on Sunday, June 3, the Moyer family invited me to join them for lunch at a Chinese restaurant in West Lebanon and to visit their father, Lloyd, in the hospital awaiting heart surgery.’That was my first pastoral hospital visit, although I Hadn’t ‘Yet been installed as pastor.

That evening, Wilmer and Jean Schmell invited me to attend the high school graduation at Woodstock Union High School. Three young people from Bethany were graduating. When we arrived as a family on July 9, our furniture and belongings were in disarray in the parsonage. We began by putting the kitchen in order. Wilmer  stopped by to see if we needed anything. Soon Elsie Breneman stopped by bringing us a very nice meal.

On September 9, I was licensed and installed as pastor of the church by our overseer, Noah Kolb. The expressions of love, support and encouragement from the congregation reflected the face of God.

My employment with the church was 3/5 time. I needed additional employment as we were committed to having Aldine be an “at-home-mom” while our children were small. Franconia Mennonite Conference had indicated a good possibility of part time employment in church development in Vermont, but that didn’t develop. They encouraged me to seek other employment when I shared this with our congregational chairperson, Ken Hershey, he immediately offered me a job with Larken for two days a week.

The conference had actually set aside funds to support a church planting position in Vermont. The Bethany Birches Camp Board, knowing about my experience in Christian camping ministry, decided to approach the conference to see if those funds could be used to hire me as executive director of the camp. They obliged beginning the following year. On December 31, I terminated my employment with Larken and on January 1 began receiving a salary from Bethany Birches Camp for two days a week, thus completing a full time employment package with the church and camp which lasted for 13 years, a wonderful arrangement for me.

When I was ordained the congregation presented me with a gift, a copy of the Believers Church Bible Commentary on the book of Jeremiah, the first in the series. The note inside the front cover says, “This book presented to James W. Musser on the day of ordination, March 15, 1987 as a token of love from the Bethany Mennonite Congregation at Bridgewater Corners, Vermont.” I have since acquired the rest of the series.

In 1991 I encountered my first challenge with mental health issues. The outpouring of love from the congregation and community with visits, cards, flowers, meals and a brief break from pastoral responsibilities to heal clearly showed me the “Face of God.” A special visit from our overseer, Hubert Schwartzentruber, to talk and pray with me was warmly received. I believe God is often present when we don’t recognize it.  I suspect I could write of many occasions if I had been paying attention to the way God was moving and working in our midst while I served as your pastor from 1984-1997.


Reader 10 Robert: Some thoughts about Bethany surrounding Ada’s death: Several people took care of the practical aspects of feeding people at the calling hours and after her funeral, for which I was very grateful It was hot and someone made a lot of iced tea. We had no money for her burial plot but Lloyd and Alice loaned us money for that, and!the church paid for her stone. It was very humbling to have others give us this gift.

Aldine read a story at Ada’s funeral and talked to the children about Ada, what she liked and how she was going to be missed. Aldine also had activities later in the year for children to express their feelings about Ada dying.

Leland wrote a letter about how the congregation would sorely miss her presence in the church. He said he would have enjoyed teaching her, he loved her “good old fashioned name,” and he recognized the larger loss it was for Steve and me as her parents and Sam as her brother. Leland and Elsie made a special effort to connect with Sam during his childhood.

I was aware that it was very uncomfortable for some in the congregation to watch us grieve. They wanted to somehow fix “it” so we could move forward. A month or so after Ada’s death, a visitor came to Bethany and commented that he didn’t know what had occurred here but he sensed we were all in shock.


Reader 9 Karen: Standing on the porch facing south, gazing at the light on the mountain behind Putnam’s house, I felt that God was present. In the challenges of seeking meaning in the gathered community of faith, Ifelt hope. The beauty of the setting in which the building is located made me appreciate our Creator and believe that Bethany Mennonite Church had a future.

The early morning walks and talks with Linda Maham, Mary Mosher and Merrideth Hathaway gave me a sense of connection with the community that I cherish. We would gather at the church with our flashlights before our day of work began. This was a life-sustaining activity for me when I was adapting to how I fit into Bethany. f

Amanda Williams had a dream to begin an exercise group called “Body and Soul.” One of the first times I was at the post office in Bridgewater Corners Amanda came and introduced herself to me with this dream. It was exciting to feel the passion and vision she had. More than 30 women participated through the years at Bethany.

God’s face was present in the walks and talks through many back roads with other women through the years We valued friendship, faith, and health.

The visits with Gladys who lived across the street kept me in touch with many happenings in the area. Through her, Jim and I were often asked to sing at the grange for the Community Service Award events.

God’s presence was felt in families from the village who brought their young children to the parsonage for childcare Conversations relevant to life happened at daily drop-off and pick-up times. I felt joy watching my children play- Among many others in the field in a safe, open environment.

Serving on the worship commission gave an opportunity for the Spirit of God to move in my spirit as we planned worship. Tears would well up in my eyes when God would show up in the choosing of a song or scripture appropriate for a theme.

I experienced God at the annual gathering on Christmas Eve to celebrate God sending Jesus to us in human form I remember with fondness the after-service fellowship in the parsonage of regular worshipers and neighbors.

During my time at Bethany, the face of God was found in beauty, uncertainty, brokenness, friérids, nature, yearning, growing, loving, kindness, compassion, courage, joy, intimacy, redemption, celebrating Jesus, imagining … Blessings as you journey on.


Reader 11 Julie: I moved to Vermont fourteen years ago and started attending Bethany Mennonite Church that fall. I attended regularly, with a brief time-out to attend Friends Meeting in Hanover, for the next twelve years. Then I began attending church in Randolph but have maintained connections with many people at Bethany Mennonite ‘Church. “Connection” is a theme in John 15. Jesus is the vine, God the vine dresser, and we are the branches. Alone we can do little but when we’re connected to one another and to Jesus, we can show God’s Love. These connections were made clear to me in the winter and spring of 2001 when I had surgery and chemo treatments at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. I was connected to God’s Love through many people at Bethany; we were all Jesus’s friends and thereby able to demonstrate and experience God’s Love. For that experience I continue to be very grateful.


Reader 12 Scott: When we planned to come to Bethany in 1999 for an initial exploratory visit, I was asked whether I would bring the message, even though I was not yet officially a pastoral candidate. Bethany had been without a pastor for two years and the search committee chair said they were always glad for

someone to speak on Sunday mornings. I came that Sunday expecting a tired congregation. Instead I found an energetic, thoughtful, welcoming group of people. I remember preaching with Andrew asleep in his car seat in the aisle. I remember Lilian sitting with Larry and Althea. I remember Jean saying in sharing time that we were held in the palm of God’s hand, a phrase that had become strangely meaningful to me as I was in the process of searching for a church after seminary. I remember good music with rich harmony and drumming. I remember Steve saying if I didn’t come back as pastor he hoped we will feel welcome to come back to visit. I don’t know if these memories are factually accurate, but 1 know they’re true. They represent truths that continue. We are still glad for someone new to speak to us on Sunday morning. I still find uncanny connections between my life and things people say in the sharing time. We still have energetic singing with rich ‘harmony. Andy is still mellow, and Lilli is still entrusting herself to people in the congregation And people still welcome me and our family as pastor and friends.


Reader 13 Denise: I first visited Bethany Mennonite after Julie had invited me to church a few times and I finally said yes. I wondered if I would “fit in.” I needn’t have worried.

The first thing that struck me was the beautiful singing with everyone doing harmony a choir. We were all the choir! That made so much more sense tome than a church where a small select group does the lion’s share of the singing.

I also worried that I would feel out of place because I am not sure of my beliefs, and I thought other people might try to push me in one direction or the other. No such thing has ever happened, which has allowed me to slowly and comfortably examine what I can say I believe – or at least 1 want to believe In fact, I have been tremendously impressed with the openness of the members in discussing their own musings and wrestling with issues of belief and faith. My background includes many religious influences, and I have never heard a religion belittled or dismissed by members of Bethany.

Another big attraction was the great sense of a welcoming and open community among members. I felt valued and enjoyed many conversations after church that increased my sense that Bethany was a great group to be a part of. My attendance has been more consistent in the, last year or so, but before that I would still tell people that Bethany was “my church.” I had attended another church for a few years before I came to Bethany, but I had never shared openly in three years. After being at Bethany only a short time I felt comfortable sharing during reflection time. This was due to the open and accepting atmosphere here, rather than a dogmatic or image-conscious atmosphere.

So I am grateful to have found Bethany, and to be able to call myself a part of the community here. It is a place I can grow spiritually, keep learning and be challenged.

All: So be it


God as leader

This post was written by Brandon in 2012:

Most Christians desire to follow Christ.  This is, after all, the nature of the word Christian (that we would be little Christs).  Within the Bible there are a few models for leadership and governance.  They all share the same starting point – God as leader and governor (see Isaiah 33:22, Psalm 95, 47, 23, the whole story of the Israelites and the life of Jesus as presented in the Gospels).  We hope for this at Bethany, that we will follow God as leader.  Here are some of the ways we try to let God lead:

  • Each person has a seat at the table – who of us knows which person God will use and in which ways?
  • Jesus accomplished this best – letting God lead. So we must look to him (he is alive, after all), trust him and be obedient to his teachings.
  • Because God may use any person, and because we are each valuable in God’s sight, we must meet together to talk, discuss and discern.  This meeting together will also teach us to obey the second most important command we’ve been given – to love our neighbor as ourselves.
  • Because we can’t meet all the time about everything, we have commissioned individuals to serve on committees with specific jobs (a little like the apostles did in Acts 6).  These groups report to the whole group at our regular gatherings. You can see a list of the church’s commissions here

60th Anniversary!

We had a wonderful gathering in August to celebrate the church’s 60th anniversary. Here’s some text copied from an article on the Franconia Conference Blog found here:

Bethany celebrates 60 years with stories

On August 12, Bethany Mennonite Church in Bridgewater, Vermont, celebrated their 60th anniversary.  As part of their celebration, people from the church, community, and the conference shared their memories from the last sixty years.  The following article is adapted from those stories.

Bethany 60th

Izzy Jenne, Anna Hepler, Annabel Hershey Lapp enjoying themselves at Bethany’s 60th anniversary celebration. Photo by Karen Hawkes.

Sixty years ago, it became a congregation. Three of the four families that came from Franconia Conference to start the mission church gathered for “The Picture.” We all looked so excited and full of energy. This is the look that people get when they don’t have a clue what the future will bring.

I remember some things from those early years, the 50s: sliding down the old stair railing (adults didn’t seem to realize God meant it to be part of the children’s playground); multigenerational church socials in the damp and dark church basement; sitting in the hay wagons every fall eating crisp Macs on hayrides through those dark back roads of Vermont. I learned to keep an eye out for the tree branches that might sweep down and get you.

I remember growing up in two worlds, the church world and the Vermont secular world. They seemed very different.  We all kind of learned the hard way, as individuals, families, and a congregation, that transplanting ethnic Mennonites into a “foreign culture” was probably not the best way to plant a church.  Hard lessons were learned, maybe too hard sometimes. I saw my parents having to learn and relearn and still remain faithful to their call.

I remember once when we had a “breaking of bread service.” It wasn’t a regular communion service. Each person was given a small bread roll, and we went around and broke off a piece of our roll and gave it to someone else until our roll was gone. That service felt like a great big pair of arms was holding the whole congregation in a big hug.

Summer Vacation Bible School was a BIG, two-week affair. I went door to door asking if families would like to send their children and we drove them every day in a vehicle owned by the church and then the town school bus. When we grew to over a hundred children, teachers came from the other churches in Bridgewater and from the community as well as Bethany.

One year, I had a class of 4-year-olds with six girls and one boy. That boy could swear up a storm. He never had pennies for the offering. One morning he had a jingly pocket. I asked him what that was. He said, “Pennies.” I asked why he hadn’t put them in the box. He said he didn’t have them then. I asked where he got them. He said out of the box. I asked him why he had done that. He said it was because he never had any pennies. “Well,” I said thoughtfully, “you will from now on.”

Bethany worked closely with the other churches in the area, especially with the Congregational Church in Bridgewater. When [Pastor] Nevin had a brain aneurysm, the Bridgewater church was very supportive of this congregation in many ways. They held a fund raiser for Nevin by having a community potluck meal that brought many, many people together.

I saw God’s face in the early morning walks and talks through many back roads with other women through the years. We would gather at the church with our flashlights before our day of work began. We valued friendship, faith, and health.

I saw God’s presence in families from the village who brought their young children to the parsonage for childcare. Conversations relevant to life happened at daily drop-off and pick-up times. I felt joy watching my children play among many others in the field in a safe, open environment.

The first thing that struck me when I came to Bethany for the first time was the beautiful singing with everyone doing harmony and no choir. We were all the choir!

There are many more stories to share.  Sixty years of them.  And it makes me wonder, “What if?”

What if a group of church leaders from Franconia Conference in the middle of the 20th century hadn’t decided there was a need to start a church in Vermont called Bethany Mennonite…?


List of Commissions

Current Church Commissions:

  • Pastoral Care Committee
  • Trustees
  • Outreach
  • Hospitality
  • Worship
  • Christian Education

Current Church Roles:

  • Congregational Chair
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary

Roles and Links with church-related organizations:

  • Bethany Birches Camp Board of Director’s Representative
  • Franconia Mennonite Conference Representative
  • Mennonite Disaster Service liaison
  • Mennonite Central Committee liaison
  • Everence liaison


This is copied from the Vermont Standard –

Bethany Mennonite Church of Bridgewater: A History

JANUARY 27, 2011


By Laura Power
Special To The Standard
In the spring of 1952, three families from eastern Pennsylvania moved to Vermont. They left friends and relatives in their home communities near the town of Blooming Glen; they abandoned jobs and businesses. Between them, they had seven children; none among the six adults had the promise of paid employment in the Green Mountain state, nor even any prospects. What Lloyd and Alice Moyer, Howard and Beulah Kulp, and Wilmer and Jean Schmell did have was a sense of purpose. At the behest of the Mission Board of the Franconia Conference of Mennonites, they hoped to establish and nurture a new church in Bridgewater Corners.
The Mennonites then in Vermont amounted to barely a handful; a few met for worship at churches in Andover and Bartonsville. In fact, Mennonites were, and are, scarce across all of America; in the 1950’s just seven states counted follower populations of 5,000 or more. And outside their own close-knit communities clustered mostly in pockets of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, California, and Iowa, the Mennonites were often viewed as a cult-like sect. But the Moyers, Kulps, and Schmells believed in the Christian tradition of spreading the teachings of Jesus, a practice re-energized among the Mennonites by a revivalist movement in the mid-twentieth century. So, honored by the opportunity to serve their church, but also apprehensive, the little group set out with the mindset that God and hard work would somehow take care of their needs.
Vermonters in Bridgewater and Plymouth were not completely unfamiliar with the denomination’s practices and beliefs. When gas rationing ended after World War II, Mennonites traveling through the area noted a dearth of open, flourishing churches, a circumstance they attributed to tepid community support and a shortage of pastors returning to Vermont after the war. As a trial undertaking in 1947, the group ran two-week-long vacation Bible Schools for children in seven central Vermont communities. Their door-to-door solicitations for students were fruitful. “Amazingly people sent a large number of children,” noted John Lutz, an active church member in the 1960s and a former Mennonite pastor. The leaps of faith by parents enrolling their children were rewarded with “the sheer goodness that they felt in the interactions with those who taught…” added Lutz.
After five years of successful summer Bible Schools, the Franconia Mission Board bought a building and six acres located a few hundred feet south of the Ottauquechee River on Route 100A in Bridgewater Corners. The structure, Wilmer Schmell wrote in his memoirs, was “a large private home with porches and columns on two ends and looked like a public building.” Vermonter Josiah Josselyn built it in the mid 19th century, probably in1840, from lumber milled around the corner, on property that he bought from his father-in-law. It was a big, rambling house, with a barn attached at the rear. In 1876, Josselyn also designed and commissioned the construction of a hall, reportedly the first Grange Hall in Vermont, on the adjacent property. There isn’t much recorded history of the house itself. It stayed in the Josselyn family for many years, until the early twentieth century, and then changed hands a few times.
When the Mennonites bought the home in 1952, the seventeen-room building was in need of repair and renovation. Its only running water came from two pitcher pumps. The lone bathroom was supplemented with an indoor privy in the barn end of the building. The five-holer “was carrying togetherness a little too far,” wrote Schmell.
A group of volunteers left Blooming Glen after an evening Easter service and arrived in Vermont the following morning to begin work to convert part of the structure into a meeting house, and the rest into a parsonage. So many volunteers worked on the building that Schmell recalls it “led to the false impression by some [people in the community] for a long time that we owned things in common. A few thought we might be Communists.” The church’s pastor, Abram Landis, and his family moved in nine weeks after the work began. The first service was held on June 29, 1952. One hundred and fifty six attended the dedication in July. The Kulps, Moyers, and Schmells, along with Landis, chose the name “Bethany Mennonite” for the new church, after the place outside of Jerusalem that Jesus reputedly visited and from where he is said to have ascended into heaven.
The Mennonites are named for Menno Simons, a Roman Catholic priest born 1496 in the Netherlands. Simons did not found the Anabaptist movement from which the Mennonite denomination sprang, nor was he its most prominent devotee. But as its apostle after leaving the Catholic Church in 1536, he traveled throughout northern Germany teaching and forming congregations. Within several years, disciples of the faith began to be known as Mennonites.
The first Anabaptists surfaced in the 16th century, before Menno Simons’ conversion, as a splinter of the Protestant Reformation, a movement to ameliorate some practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Anabaptists, meaning “again” Baptists, rejected the notion of infant baptism, finding no scriptural basis for it. Instead, they advocated adult baptism for people who were willing to publically attest that they were followers of Christ, a philosophy that necessarily entailed a separation of church and state. Embracing such a doctrine in Europe in the 1500’s was dangerous; of Simons, Mennonite historian Daniel Cassel wrote, “he would go into the depths of the forest to minister to his scanty flock assembled there; again in the caves of the earth he gathered his faithful ones…They were persecuted by Catholics and Protestants alike.” Some estimate that thousands of Anabaptists were beheaded, drowned, or burned at the stake. In areas where their beliefs were marginally tolerated, the Anabaptists endured oppression of other kinds; they were not allowed to inherit land, for example, were barred from trade guilds and universities, and made to pay special taxes.
Still, the Mennonite sect in Europe took hold and grew slowly. English Quaker William Penn’s invitation to enjoy religious freedom in land he’d been granted in the new world, however, sparked a migration among them that began in 1683. An estimated 8,000 Mennonites migrated from Switzerland and Germany in waves over two centuries; in the late 19th century, another 18,000 came to the United States and Canada from Russia, where their ancestors had resettled one hundred years prior. By the time the Schmells, Moyers and Kulps, were setting down roots in Vermont, Mennonites in the United States numbered close to 160,000.
The three families adjusted to life in their adopted community. Wilmer Schmell had received an unexpected loan and was able to buy a house in Plymouth. A local contractor and neighbor stopped by as Schmell was remodeling his kitchen, noted the quality of his work, and offered him a job. The Kulps and Moyers had sold property in Pennsylvania, so Howard and Beulah Kulp bought a farm in Hale Hollow, also in Plymouth. Kulp found a job as a Singer sewing machine salesman. The Moyers purchased a home off Route 4 in Sherburne (now Killington). Lloyd Moyer brought a sizeable cable tool rig with him, and looked for work drilling water wells. The first job was six months in coming, and the unpredictable sub-terrain in Vermont soon taught him why the drilling price per foot here was triple what he’d charged in Pennsylvania. But he persisted, and his first well, in Tyson, was successful and led to other work.
The police chief from Souderton, Pennsylvania, near the families’ home church in Blooming Glen, brought the group a big red bus, the former coffee wagon for the Souderton Fire Company. Bethany Mennonite used it to pick up and drop off children, and some adults, who attended Sunday School and church services. Congregants back in Pennsylvania supported the church financially at first and in other ways as well. “We had visitors almost every weekend in our homes the first summer and fall,” wrote Schmell.
The vacation Bible School continued to be popular, its average enrollment increased from 80 or 90 per session to nearly 200 when combined with the summer schools of the Bridgewater Congregational and Center Churches. Bethany Mennonite Sunday services usually drew between 60 and 100.
Schmell found more and more work as a carpenter and builder. He and his wife also bought 1800 laying hens, they had been in the chicken business in Pennsylvania, and sold eggs door-to-door in Rutland one day a week. The opening of the Killington Ski Area in the late 1950’s created a boom in demand for water wells, and Lloyd Moyer drilled many of them. “He was trusted as an honest driller and had a backlog of wells to drill,” wrote Schmell, “so his Ottaquechee Drilling Company operated three rigs for a while.”
In the late 1950s, Schmell and another carpenter built the White Cottage Snack Bar for the Kulps. Beulah Kulp cooked minute steak sandwiches made from the shorthorn beef cattle the family raised on their farm. “A few in the community thought it would not be a success because they were not open Sundays for business,” wrote Schmell, “However, they did quite well even though they were not open in winters either.” In 1961, Schmell oversaw construction of the Ottauquchee Motel for Abram Landis, Bethany Mennonite’s first pastor. A few years later, Schmell built his own motel, the Farmbrook in Plymouth.
The three Bethany Mennonite founding families remained in Vermont for decades, carving out a role for their church in the religious community and inscribing the local landscape with the marks of their perseverance and singular work ethics. “We made many mistakes and learned a lot,” wrote Schmell of the group’s endeavor in Vermont, and, he added, they grew “to love and to appreciate Vermont and its people.”
Today, Bethany Mennonite’s low-key but dedicated congregation of thirty or forty meets weekly in the same sanctuary that volunteers from Pennsylvania created nearly sixty years ago. The presence of pews is perhaps its only characteristic that fits with a conventional physical envisioning of a church. “There is a pulpit,” says pastor of twelve years Gwen Groff, but “It’s back in a little closet.” A simple podium for speakers better fits the church’s flat hierarchy, she adds.
The congregation is part of the Mennonite Church USA, an umbrella organization that guides about 110,000 followers in forty-four states. All told, according to the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia, there are about 360,000 Mennonites in the United States, including the Amish and twenty-five or so smaller Mennonite denominations derived from the Anabaptists. “There’s a whole spectrum between Amish, Amish Mennonite, conservative Mennonite with very visibly different dress, lifestyle, whether they drive cars, have electricity, wear the head covering,” says Groff, “This church [Bethany Mennonite] is liberal, in dress, in lifestyle. In theological beliefs, we have a pretty good diversity.”
Congregations of the Mennonite Church USA are relatively independent. Their twenty-four article Confession of Faith describes underlying doctrine, but, says, Groff, “There is not an expectation that every church or even every minister will subscribe to every belief in that Confession.” All denominations are united in that they read the bible seriously, as a guide for life. In addition to basic Christian precepts, the Mennonites strongly emphasize peace and justice. “It’s been a pacifist denomination since the beginning,” says Groff. She notes that the Mennonite church in Taftsville was begun in 1957 to accommodate men who, due to their status as conscientious objectors to military duty, opted for “1-W” tours at the then Mary Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, NH. Mennonites also stress service, “doing God’s work and being in the community,” says Groff, and the discipleship of following Jesus.
Bethany Mennonite, compared to many congregations, is “very lay-led,” says Groff, “anybody here can serve communion, pray the pastoral prayer, or preach.” Weekly services generally focus on the sermon, but singing is also important. Mennonites have been singing four-part, acapella harmony for about 400 years. A rich blend of voices at Bethany Mennonite is not limited to an occasional, rehearsed chorale, it’s heard in almost every hymn, every Sunday. It’s a special way for worshippers to pray together in a service that otherwise includes little ritual. The singing, Groff says, helps congregants “to address God together as a community. Singing reminds us that we need each other. We can’t harmonize alone.”
A labyrinth in the field behind the church is also testament to the congregation’s facility for finding means to create community and express devotion. To make the maze, Groff let the grass grow long before cutting it, then with the trimmings laid out a pattern in a classical seven circuit design. After another week or so of growth, she cut the grass again, between the lines she’d laid out. Although Groff originally intended the labyrinth as a vehicle for her own meditation and prayer, eventually, the church’s worship committee decided to incorporate it into their annual summer outside worship service. First, the children of the congregation run to the center, get grapes and goldfish, then run back out. Next the adults quietly contemplate as they silently pass by each other and trace the maze’s paths. “It’s really beautiful when people walk in it,” says Groff, “This is a good group of people, a good group to join to try to figure out what it means to follow Jesus.”
The Bethany Mennonite Church is at 169 Route 100A in Bridgewater Corners. Sunday church service is at 9:45, and is followed by Sunday School. The church is also affiliated with the Bethany Birches Camp in Plymouth, which conducts summer and winter programs for children.

Unexpected Thankfulness

In a recent service, we were talking about things for which we’re thankful that were unexpected.  This is how I opened the service.

It was a sunny Spring Day. The wind was in my hair as I drove up 100a toward the camp.  I remember feeling almost carefree and loving.  I remember thinking that this place in life I was, couldn’t get grander.

Seven years later, I reflect back on that day, and all that has happened between now and then. I consider the hardship and the sacrifice. I consider events that are not what we praise at Thanksgiving dinner with family.  These are not events we often share with friends when asked how we’re doing, or, what’s new?

Yet, as I look back over these years, this season of life, I find myself being thankful and grateful for all God has done in my life. For the way I have been led and encouraged, challenged and changed.  I’m thankful for the voice that calls to me when I am alone.  I am thankful for the solitude a sometimes lonely hill has offered and for the challenges and joy of marriage and living together.  I am thankful for an old dog that I didn’t ask for or seek. I am thankful for minor injuries from time to time that remind me of my fragility. I am thankful for work that I can’t do alone or with my own abilities and for the relationships that causes in my life.

I am thankful for the joy that has resulted from relationships, gifts and work that I discovered along the twisting path I’m traveling.  I’m thankful for the gift of walking any path at all.  Thank you, Great God, for this gift of life.

Brandon Bergey

All Saints Day – Halloween – Celtic Tradition

A couple of Sundays ago, Gwen surprised me as well as others of us here who had not expected to be part of the sermon with some very affirming words .  The occasion was to speak the delights of a 25 year marriage and to welcome some of us as well as to say farewell for a time to others.
In her describing of me she spoke of me as having both a strong traditional Christian side and a “delightful”, I think, pagan one.  That she described me as such in church and without apparent distaste, indeed with both acceptance and affirmation, let me know I was home.
My pagan side has not allowed me a lot of affirmation in church and I have had to downplay my leanings in that direction to be accepted in many church circles with which I have been allied.
When I was a child, I couldn’t get enough of the natural world – the rivers and streams, the ocean’s mystery and magic, the forests and pine groves, the sunshine, indeed the whole natural world around me.
At my church camp, my Bethany Birches, they called me a “Blue Domer”, a description of people who found God more readily outdoors than in church on Sundays.  I got the idea that it wasn’t an altogether complimentary description.
While I don’t worship trees and the sun, I had a child’s wonder at such things the way the ancients must have done before God appeared to the Hebrew people and revealed himself as the creator of all that is.  The Celtic pagan tradition upon which many Christian traditions are based reflected the Celt’s view of the natural world.  The wonder and glory, the vastness, the power of the elements and the spiritual part of our humanness as it is reflected in the natural world were the things upon which the Celtic spiritual world was based.
I have always found irony in the fact that the church as a whole has looked upon the pagan’s view of the universe as not only wrong, but as blasphemy, because so many Christian celebrations and rituals come directly from pagan roots.  Nevertheless, I do not want to in any way fail to do God’s will.  It is not important to me to be right here.  It is important for me to find truth.  And I do invite anyone who has knowledge or a word on my reflection here to impart to me any wisdom he or she finds, because I really want to live in God’s will and to do what God wants of me.  I am on a life-long search here and I do not have any answers on this question – just reflections from a thoughtful and earnest Christian.
It is particularly this time of year when so many of the traditions permeate the holiday season that the tension between the spiritual Christian and the spiritual pagan collide in me, beginning with Halloween.
Halloween has its origins in Celtic pagan practice.  I think most of us know this, and we participate in the secular celebration or not based on mostly personal decision, but there was a time when the customs we practice at Halloween was a part of Christian spiritual practice.  There are remnants of some of these practices in the church today.
The ancient Celts divided their year into quarters determined by the summer and winter solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes, and then into cross quarters, the mid points between the solstice and the equinox.  These “cross quarter” celebrations were the most highly spiritual of the year and there are still remnants of these at the times in Groundhog’s Day (which is a remnant of the Celtic festival of Imbolc, from which the Christian Candelmas derived,  in which both the Celtic and the Christian tradition had it as not a good omen if the day was bright and sunny. If it was cloudy and dark that meant that rain and warmth would make the land ready for planting sooner.)  Other Cross Quarter celebrations are Beltane, which became May Day, and Samhain, which evolved into All Hallow’s Day.  Halloween is the Eve of all Hallows Day.
Samhain is/was  the first of November, and it literally means, “Summer’s End”.  It was the most important of all the Celtic spiritual days.  The Celts separated their year into the dark half and the light half, with the dark half perhaps having the most spiritual importance.  (The light half is full of all the good stuff – the planting and growing season, the season of plenty, the days of light, and the easy times.  The dark time is when we need our ties to our spirits the most.)  The Celts observed time as proceeding from darkness into light, because they understood that from the dark come the whisperings that of new beginnings, the stirrings of the seeds for the next season in the ground.  Samhain marked the beginning of the dark half of the year.  It was both the Celtic New Year and a harvest festival.
The eve of Samhain was the most important part of the celebration.  Villagers gathered the best of the autumn harvest and slaughtered their cattle for the feast.   The focus of each village’s festivities was the bonfire.  Villagers cast the bones from the slaughtered cattle onto the fire.  Our word “bonfire” comes from the Celtic “bone fire”.
Villagers put out their fires and made new fires from the huge village bonfire, signifying the bonding together of the individual villagers into a community who would care for each other and with whom they bonded for protection and unity while waiting for the light to return.  The lighting of the new fires marked a time of New Beginnings, much in the same way our New Year does.  It is a time when we can start over, undo a wrong and renew a relationship gone astray, or dream of new plans and hopes. Offerings and sacrifices were tossed into the fire, along with personal prayers in the form of symbols from supplicants seeking healing for themselves or others.
(Aside)  My husband and I saw examples of this in churches in Greece where one could buy, for example, a foot with a leg attached and light a candle, then throw the object into the fire to pray for the healing of someone’s foot or leg.
To the Celts, this was a very holy time, when the veil between our world and the next one was lifted and the gods were able to come closer to this world.  The dead could cross over at this time between the Otherworld and this one.  Many of the ceremonies at this time involved providing hospitality to dead ancesters.  Celts opened their gates and windows and doors and put out food and drink for their ancestors.  Bobbing for apples was a traditional Samhain practice because of a tradition called “Paradise of Apples” in which it was thought that the ancestors,  returned to the Otherworld to enjoy a blissful immortality, having eaten of the sacred fruit.
Of course not all of the spirits who crossed over on the eve of November first were friendly.  To ward off the unfriendly spirits, people carved out faces of their ancestors on turnips, which they hollowed out and lit from the large communal fire to take embers back to their own hearths and to light the new year’s fire.  These were called, “Jack’s Lanterns” because of an old Irish  story about a man named Jack who was a terrible person.  I have to tell this one because Andy, Ethan Lilli, Riley, Anna, Annabel, Micah, Cerri, and some of the rest of you already know the Appalachian version of it from Revels and the version of it that I did at Barnard.  Oh, and Molly from the one we did at WES. And I never connected it with our Halloween traditions.
Well, this guy Jack was a mean old cuss and he played mean, cruel tricks on people and tricked them out of their money.  Well, one day the Devil himself came-a-calling to Jack’s door.  You see, he had heard about Jack’s tricks and he was looking for souls, so he offered Jack a great deal of money in exchange for his soul.
Well, Jack, he knew he didn’t want to sell his soul to the Devil but he thought maybe he could have his cake and eat it too.  He agreed to the bargain and then tricked the Devil into climbing a tree saying something like, “Well, ain’t this a pretty autumn tree with the leaves all colored so pretty?  Don’t you just want to climb it?”
The Devil allowed as how he did, but Jack said it was a shame he couldn’t get up there with his cloven hoof and all.  The Devil took up the challenge and once he was up the tree, Jack carved a cross on the tree and now the Devil couldn’t get down.  So Jack made the Devil promise to relinquish his soul before he eradicated the cross he had carved and the Devil fled away fast, terribly humiliated.
So when Jack died, he tried to get into Heaven, but he had been such a horrible old sinner he was denied access, but when he went down to Hell, he was also denied access.  The Devil remembered his humiliation and denied Jack access there also.  So Jack had nowhere to go.  “Where will I go?”  he asked.  “It’s do dark I can’t see my way.”
So the Devil gave him a hollowed out turnip from his fields and then, picking up his tongs, he placed an ember into it so that Jack could see his way.  So, as he wanders, he is sometimes seen, and he is known as “Jack of the Lantern” or Jack-o-Lantern.”
Sorry for this little aside, but I included it partially because when we did the story we didn’t know the Irish version and I didn’t know about the lead-in to carving Jack o Lanterns, but I included it also because the early church had a childlike view of Christian theology based on pagan tales and custom.  That the Devil had cloven hooves or that he could be tricked were evidence of very early, indeed naïve practices and beliefs.  And it is important to acknowledge this naiveté, because it is reflected in early church beliefs and customs.  It is important to note that, while many of the customs have become secular, at this time period there was no separation of the sacred and the secular.  It was all one reality.
So back to traditions from Samhain.  There was a lighter side to Celtic New Year rituals.  Young people would put on disguises for the evening and pretend to be spirits of the dead.  Boys and girls would put on each other’s clothes and behave boisterously.  The idea was to flout conventional behavior. The youth and the lowly would play tricks on their betters.  The Celts welcomed the break from reality as not only providing a link between the Otherworld and this one, but also it was important to dissolve the structure of society for that night.
One custom that is easy to trace from the Celtic to its modern incarnation is the ancient Celtic custom on Samhain of the farmers going from door-to-door collecting food and materials for the village feast and bonfire.  Those who gave were promised prosperity, and those who did not were not.
On All Souls Day in England, people would go a-souling from door to door, receiving soul cakes in return for a crude play (a mummers’ play) and wishes for prosperity.  Children eventually adopted this practice.
I am departing for a minute to note why the practice of using the pagan festivals for the Christian observances began.  I am reminded of the Huron Indian Carol in which Jesuit Priests equated the birth of Christ with events which the Huron nation could understand and embrace.  “Twas in the Moon of Wintertide when all the birds had fled/ That mighty Gitchee Manitou sent angel choirs instead.”  The carol spoke of chiefs who came from afar bringing gifts of fur and beaver pelt and that the child was born in a humble lodge of broken bark.  If you present people with something with which they can relate, they are more likely to believe.
In the fourth century when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire, and pagans were made to join the Christian church, church leaders knew that simply telling the people that they were now Christians did not make it so, since their belief system would not change.  So, for example, when Saturnalia became Christmas, the holly and the ivy, which had been sacred plants to the pagans became symbols of Jesus’ promise of everlasting life, because they didn’t die in winter when everything else appeared to have no life.  The Saturnalian custom of masters and slaves switching places became one of electing a boy bishop for the day and having a feast of fools over which a peasant presides.  I know that we look upon this as secular rather than church practice, but we have to remember than in pagan practice there was no separation of the sacred and the secular, AND when it became a Christian custom, it fit nicely into Christian theology being a representation of Jesus’ having said that the first shall be last and the last shall be first, or in the reading today from Matthew, “whoever exalts himself shall be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be humbled.”
 In preparing for this message, I have been re-reading Harvey Cox’s “Feast of Fools”.  The premise of the book is that the church of today (He wrote it in the 70’s but it is still true.) lacks the sense of humility that we need if we are to attract others to our faith and, indeed, if we are to do God’s will.
He says, “Šsecular critics of Christianity find (it) unreasonably affirmative in its estimate of man’s place” in the universe.  He points out that that is a grandiose view of our place in the universe, setting moral standards and putting our stamp of approval (or not) on societal issues.
He says that “men today do not simply complain that they cannot believe in God on intellectual grounds.  Indeed, a religious explanation of the universe may be just as conceptually adequate as another one.  The problem is that people do not “experience” or “encounter” God.
Cox urges a return to the pagan roots of Christianity so as to re-establish the very human need for a new flowering of the festivity and fantasy upon which the church was founded in order to encounter or to fully understand God.
“Christianity was born and preached first in cultures in which feasts and celebrations were an organic and essential part of the whole world view and way of life.  And whether we like it or not, Christianity accepted and made its own this fundamentally human phenomenon of feast, as it accepted and made as its own the whole man and all his needs.”
Just as an aside, This is the book upon which the musical, “Godspell” was based.  It too had its critics within the church, but I still think a torch singer coming from the back of the house singing, “Turn back oh man, forswear thy foolish ways..dah dah da dada”  did more to get the attention of the teens who did this musical about that Biblical passage than anything else we did in the church.
I have spent three weeks researching and writing and I was really doing it to find answers for myself because many of the things I love have pagan roots:   morris dancing, which had its roots in pagan fertility ritual, pounding sicks on the fground and jumping up and down with bells on to wake up the earth, Christmas Revels, which celebrates both Christmas and the solstice with the customs that were pagan become Christian and mummers plays.  I LOVE being involved in human activities that go back to far that they are a visceral part of our makeup, our connection to the universe.
I was looking for answers for me, but in doing it I have found reasons for the church not only to tolerate things of pagan origin, but understand if not embrace them.
First, I was amazed at how many of our customs come from the pagan – not just Halloween and Christmas, and the timing of Easter on the Church Calendar, but Halos, which were seen in paintings of Celtic Gods and Goddesses and then later on Saints and Jesus.  There are many more examples.
Christians used to meet on Saturday, according to the law of Moses, which was the last day of the week and God rested on the 7th day as did the Hebrew people for the same reason, but pagans were used to meeting on Sundays  It was a Sun Day to worship the sun god.  The emperor Constantine, who was a pagan declared that Sunday was to be the day of worship throughout the Roman Empire.
One web site, “Christianizing Secular Customs; a Biblical look at Secular Customs” represents the Christian/pagan dilemma fairly accurately. Some believers who discover the pagan origins of these customs find themselves struggling to celebrate themŠ.They imagine God is dishonored when naïve Christians participate in customs that were once associated with darkness (Samhain being the beginning of the dark half of the year and Christmas taking on the celebration of the longest night of the year. )
This writer quotes Romans 14, “One man considers one day more sacred than another.  Another man considers every day alike.  Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who regards one day as special, so does the Lord.  He who eats meat eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
This same website offers this:  “The modern church has many customs that were borrowed from the (pagan) world but which give opportunity for believers to advance the word of God”, such as:
“The custom of churches meeting in buildings, rather than in homes was adopted from the pagan traditions of Rome.  In the fourth century when Christianity was declared the only acceptable religion in the Roman Empire, pagan temples were converted into churches.”
This site makes the argument that when we discover that all the days of the week are named after pagan gods, should we than stop using the names of the days of the week?
Paul is the person who most addressed this issue, because in his epistles he was writing letter to people who were Christians and who were fighting a strong pagan opposition.  Paul admonished these people not to violate their conscience, but to allow others to question with impunity.
Romans 14:20  “Therefore, let us stop passing judgement on one another.  Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.”
Regarding the Christian’s decision regarding whether or not to participate in activities within or without the church, the writer of the site warns us against the danger of becoming Pharisees.  If we choose to abstain from these customs, we must be careful not to judge others who have made different choices and to remember that Jesus emphasized the importance of cleaning up the inside of a person, allowing a clean heart to be the source of outside changes.
This has been a good assignment.  I have found a place where I can be comfortable inside my “pagan” skin.  I know that God is my God and that Jesus is my savior.  That is, in the end, my declaration.  Father, I ask for your blessing on me for all that I am and all that I represent, for I am wonderfully and fearfully made by your hands.  Amen.
Sharon Groblicki


Marcia Bender is putting together some music for a community potluck that is happening at the Bridgewater Grange this Saturday (Oct. 22) from 6-9pm.

All welcome!  If you know anything about Marcia, it’s sure to be a rockin time with excellent music.