New exhibit celebrates Mennonite worship through the centuries

by Maddie Ruth

A new exhibit has been opened in the Harold and Wilma Good Library Gallery. The exhibit is titled “Going to Church: Objects Representing Mennonite Congregations.” It was first revealed this past Sunday, January 23 with a public reception.

On the wall of the entrance to “Going to Church,” a quote by the martyr Claes de Praet reads, “The earliest Anabaptists worshipped in boats, caves, behind hedges, in the woods, in the fields or mountains, on the seacoast, sometimes in houses.”

When the political authorities began to allow for less secrecy, Anabaptists churches sprouted up around Europe. The new exhibit both depicts the architecture of these first churches and captures scenes from services as far back as the 18th century.

Included in the exhibit is a variety of artwork and artifacts that illustrate the life and times of the Mennonite church. Among them are photographs, wall hangings, church signs, foot-washing basins, towels, and engravings, some of which are as old as the Mennonite tradition itself. Not only spanning over centuries, but also across geographical boundaries and diverse cultures, “Going to Church” brings together pieces of Mennonite tradition from Europe, South America, and Elkhart County.

Curators Faye Peterson and Ervin Beck recognize that “the Mennonite Church has changed so much that diversity, rather than similarity, is the rule.”

The Mennonite-Amish Museum Committee of Goshen College is sponsoring the “Going to Church” exhibit. It will continue to be free and open to the public during library hours until April 29.

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