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"You are the salt of the earth..." Matt. 5:13

Swiss (Volhynian) Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association Newsletter, Spring 2002, Vol.1-1

Welcome, Schweitzer Sojourners  Kummen Sieto

the latest SMCHA -Swiss (Volhynian) Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association- venture, the "Schweitzer Salt." This bi-annual newsletter serves to connect with and to support people in being informed and involved in continuing and promoting the values and faith of our heritage.

SMCHA, incorporated Feb. 14, 1973, originated with the planning for the Swiss Volhynian Mennonite Centennial celebration of 1974. It works to preserve and foster our rich heritage for the inspiration of those who go forth from this place and of those who come back in search of their roots.

Where we come from and from whom we come are always intriguing because these factors tend to influence many aspects of our character. In the words of Eliza Cook, "There’s a magical tie to the land of our home, which the heart cannot break, though the footsteps may roam."

SMCHA’s intent is to distribute this newsletter to as many Schweitzers in the USA as possible. This means that we need your help in locating such. We ask that you return the Registration Form (p.3) with as much information as you can provide. If you wish to join SMCHA with a $10 contribution or if you wish to donate monetarily to this heritage cause, that is much appreciated. If not, we thank you for returning the form so that you and others you list on the form, may be in our Schweitzer Records and continue to receive the "Schweitzer Salt." -the editors

Kuk Mul tooh! Was ist das?

How does being a Schweitzer make a difference in response to the economic, military, political, international issues of the day? -Dr. James Juhnke

What does it mean to be Swiss? Different people have given different answers to that question. Peter B. Amstutz, a Swiss Mennonite from Ohio, claimed that Swiss folk are provincial in outlook. "One characteristic of a Swiss, different from other people, is that he hardly ever goes farther afield than his cow pasture."
But we can hardly say that the Swiss-Volhynian immigrants to Kansas and Dakota in 1874 had stayed in their own cow pastures. They were a migrant people. They had moved from Switzerland to the Alsace and then to several places in eastern Europe before making the great migration to the American frontier plains.
From one point of view, we might expect that a people of migration would have special affinity and concern for other immigrants to the United States. If we sustain a strong memory of our immigrant origins, shouldn’t we learn to be tolerant of more recent immigrants? Should Schweitzers be in the forefront of public concern for the rights of immigrants from Mexico? In the wake of the current terrorist crisis, should we speak out in behalf of Arab-American immigrants who experience persecution?

Unfortunately, in United States history the immigrants of one generation often turn into the anti-immigrant nativists of the next generation. For Swiss Volhynians, it should not be so.
The Swiss-Volhynian migrants of the 1870s were nearly all Mennonites of Amish-Anabaptist heritage, whose understanding of Scripture and God’s will led them to conscientious objection to military service. We came to America, at least in part to sustain a tradition of peace.

But is it possible to translate traditional Mennonite teachings into clear positions on economic, military and political issues in a tolerant democratic and capitalistic society? The answer to that question is not altogether obvious. In the immigrant generation, some Schweitzers voted Democrat and others voted Republican. Many decades later, in the presidential election of 1964, some Schweitzers voted for Barry Goldwater because he stood for self-reliance and personal responsibility, while others voted for Lyndon Johnson who ran as a peace candidate.

Yet it was President Johnson who made the fateful decisions which led the country into its disastrous war in Vietnam.

Should that tradition lead the Schweitzers to identify with the Republican party or with the Democrat party? Should Schweitzers be on the left wing or the right wing--or the middle of the road--in American politics? No absolute answer to that question--or to the large general question assigned to me for this article--is possible. At least we can say that we must put our ultimate faith in God, rather than in any political or economic system of this world. We should not get stuck in our own cow pastures, but we need to be humble about the results of our worldly engagements.

"Schweitzers Speak..."
And so we Schweitzers came and went- through the generations- Switzerland, France, Poland, Russia, Ukraine.  In search of religious freedom, we "ended up" in the USA.  Or have we "ended up"? Some say we are part of the big "melting pot". Some say we are really a "cultural diversity"- unique- one of a kind. It’s a different world. But are there some values, that are at stake, even now, that would compel us to move ?  Let’s see, how much can I put into my steamer trunk... my Bible, my Turkey Red Wheat kernels, poppy seed, my computer, definitely my TV- including cable, my cell phone, my recliner, cans of International Coffee, power point program, exercise bike. it really worth the hassle to uproot my status quo and move to another land?
"What values would need to be threatened to cause you to now relocate in a different country?"

--I feel like my values are especially being threatened right now with this war on terrorism. At what point would I move? That’s hard to say. As a Mennonite I feel a lot of guilt that pacifists are not speaking out in horror against U.S. policies which kill to let others know that killing is wrong. How preposterous! The big question for me is "where would I move?" Is there any place on this earth in 2002 that would allow me to live in true peace and harmony--a new land? -Leann Toews

--For me to seriously consider relocating to another country, a time of widespread repression of freedoms of speech, of assembly, of religious expression and/or freedom of movement would have to develop in this country. While today’s national administration along with our new Dept. of Homeland Security certainly give pause for concern about the loss of liberties, I think we are probably still a long way from the development of the kind of absolute restrictions imposed on those who dissent with popular opinion that would cause me to consider permanent relocation,. Visiting another country for a couple of years would be interesting at this point, however. -Roger Juhnke

--What an interesting and challenging question. What could be and/or should be causes to threaten my values that would result in relocating to a different country, should be addressed.  The "could be causes" might be freedom of religious expression, economic security, health reasons, and environmental (air, water, vegetation pollution). All of which may be just, viable causes and should not be disapproved. However, the "should be causes" might be acts of faith through revelation from God in obedience to His leading in spite of the "could be causes".  My cause would depend on my faith at the time of challenge. -Mel Flickinger

--If our freedom to worship as we choose would be taken from us I would seriously investigate moving to another country. Most likely our privilege of alternative service to participation in the military would also be lost. Losing these two privileges would make life very difficult and could result in living out my faith in secret or possibly being imprisoned for disobeying the law. -Alice Kaufman Suderman

--Our forefathers made supreme sacrifices to find a place where we are free to follow and serve Jesus. Jesus encouraged his followers to make disciples of all nations. If the United States hampered our missionary zeal and placed legal restrictions on our obedience to the teachings of Jesus, it may be time for us to seek some place in God’s world where we can be obedient to our Master Teacher Jesus. -Edwin R. Stucky

The Seven Plaques of the Memorial
“Mommy, Daddy, where do I come from?”
When you hear that question or when you decide it is time for an inspirational historical outing, a trip to the Swiss Mennonite Memorial Monument awaits.

Located west of the Hopefield Church, 4 miles west of Moundridge, KS, the Seven Plaques on the Centennial Memorial Marker describe the rich history and challenge of the Swiss (Volhynian) German Mennonites who came to America.*

  • Plaque I commemorates the coming from Kotosufka, Russia to this place.
  • Plaque II accounts for the 73 families who crossed the Atlantic Ocean on The City of Richmond.
  • Plaque III relates to all Mennonites, explaining the Anabaptist origin and Articles of Faith.
  • Plaque IV is a universal plaque with the MCC Emblem - pillar, globe and cross. It includes the names of Swiss and other Mennonite leaders.
  • Plaque V represents all Mennonite groups who turned the prairies into productive farms.
  • Plaque VI recognizes the spiritual leadership of the church, the daughter/sister churches, including congregations in South Dakota. It emphasizes the significance of the cross.
  • Plaque VII portrays the challenge of the Anabaptist vision and the hope for the future.

    (Plaque committee: Roland Goering, William Juhnke, E.G. Kaufman, Menno S. Kaufman, Harley Stucky) *information from Menno S. Kaufman- The Challenging Faith and Harley J. Stucky.


In late Summer 2001 SMCHA received notice that the Hopefield congregation was planning to build an addition to the church building to provide for handicapped accessible bathrooms on the main floor and additional Sunday School rooms. While understandable, in the minds of some it triggered the realization that such a move would seriously compromise the possibility of ever having this church placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

In response, SMCHA approved an ad hoc committee to try to determine what should be SMCHA’s response or what further action might be considered. Present at the meeting were Donna and Harry Neufeld, Neva Belle and N. Paul Stucky, Evelyn Lehman, Ozzie Goering, John O. Schrag, Arnold Wedel, Joseph Schrag and Jacob Goering. Many ideas were discussed and a few possible scenarios proposed to present to the Hopefield Church.

This was done, but in the end none of the proposals met the needs of the church, and work on the addition to the building began soon thereafter.

The activities of the ad hoc committee stimulated a great deal of interest in this historic site and its possibilities for the future. There is room for creative deliberations for anyone interested in the fascinating story of this immigrant group and the historic site including the church building, the centennial monument and the cemetery. Perhaps SMCHA can encourage further articulating and action that would lead to ways of telling and preserving this unique history. -Jacob D. Goering


SMCHA is again offering two scholarships in the amount of $500 each to students who are preparing for the ministry or other full-time Christian service. Scholarships are for the 2002-2003 school year. The application deadline is July 15, 2002. Applicants must have membership in one of the six Swiss-Volhynian churches in Kansas or in one of the two churches in South Dakota, or be of Swiss-Volhynian descent.

Applicants may submit a letter of application to Ozzie Goering, Chair, Swiss Mennonite Scholarship Committee, 1810 Iris, Moundridge, KS 67107.

A letter of recommendation from his/her pastor or congregation is required, and the applicant must be accepted or enrolled in an accredited Mennonite institution of higher education or in a Mennonite-related voluntary service position. Those attending Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary or Great Plains Seminary will be given preference.

If you know of persons who may qualify, please encourage them to apply or send such names to the committee. Members of the Scholarship Committee are Ozzie Goering, Alice Suderman and Art Goering. For further information call: 620-345-2384 or 316-283-3815. -Alice Kaufman Suderman

KU Prof. Keel Speaks at SMCHA Fall Dinner

Around 150 people attended the SMCHA Fall Dinner in Eden Mennonite Church, Moundridge, Oct. 29, 2001. Prof. Keel from Kansas State University presented slides comparing German dialects in Kansas. A KU student is interested in pursuing further research.

The war on terrorism took a strange turn as airline officials refused to let a 73-year old "Schweitzer" board her plane. She had in her purse two six-inch knitting needles. Apparently they were worried that she may knit an Afghan.

Where is Great Uncle Christian?

The Hopefield Cemetery, located 4 miles west and 1/2 north of Moundridge, KS, contains the remains of many Swiss Mennonite pioneers and is therefore considered of particular importance to all Swiss Mennonite descendants. This cemetery is now the property of SMCHA. A directory building has been constructed to assist visitors in locating the tombstones of their ancestors. This work will be completed as soon as the Cemetery Directory Bulletin Board is installed. This directory building is an attractive and valuable feature of the Hopefield Cemetery. - Arnold M. Wedel


Like a floating feather

kind words bring peace

sweeping clean the hurt

of harsh spoken clatter.

Like notes on the scale

they wait to be touched

into a grand symphony.

-John O. Schrag


1) Newton, KS Preservation Week Celebration includes a program remembering the P. J. Wedel family. P. J. Wedel graduated from Kansas U. in 1895 and began his career at Bethel College in 1902.

For his contributions to anthropology, Waldo Wedel is listed in a 1999 Wichita Eagle as one of the hundred famous Kansans.

Time: Sun. May 19, 1:30 to 2:30 pm

Place: P.J. Wedel House, 2427 College Ave. N. Newton

2) First Mennonite Church of Moundridge will celebrate their 125th anniversary this year.

3) SMCHA Fall Dinner (Check web site for date.)

4) BC Fall Fest Schweitzer Prog. Oct. 12, 10:00 am

Sincere thanks to our contributors!

Das ist alles

This web page is a “work in progress” subject to continuing change as new material and events come along. Please check it out and send comments or possible items for the Home Page to a Committee member: Jim Goering (, Victor R. Goering ( and Dale E. Schrag ( To facilitate fast and low-cost handling, these items should be sent electronically, i.e., as an e-mail message or file attached to an e-mail. We value you suggestions. Webmaster is Dennis Quiring. -Jim Goering

Newsletter Editors: Donna Kaufman Neufeld    Box 142    N. Newton, KS 67117   ph: 316-283-3373    e mail-

Neva Belle Adamson Stucky   405 NE 24   N. Newton, KS 67117

Consultant- Arnold Wedel      Logo- Kristi Neufeld
Copyright 2000  All rights reserved.