125th Anniversary Brochure

Prairie People | World People

A celebration of 125 years of Swiss (Volhynian) Mennonites in the United States

Saturday, Aug. 14, 1999
Moundridge, Kansas

Schedule of Events

Saturday, Aug. 14

Saenger Fest
(Mass Choir)
Practice: 10:30 a.m. ∓ 4 p.m.
Performance: 7:30 p.m.
Eden Mennonite Church

Choir practice for evening performance of A HYMN OF HERITAGE, an original anthem commissioned for the anniversary. All interested singers are invited to participate.

Talking Cemetery
1:45-2:15 p.m. ∓ 4:15-4:45 p.m.
Hopefield Mennonite Church

Tour of the Hopefield cemetery, where the immigration pioneers and many of their descendants are buried. Leaders: Vic Goering and J.O. Schrag, both North Newton, Kan.

Swiss Fest
2:30 p.m.
Hopefield Mennonite Church

Panel discussion: Ten Windows on 125 Years in the United States. Presenters: Delbert Goering, Moundridge, Kan.; Marlene Krehbiel, McPherson, Kan.; Alice Suderman, North Newton, Kan.; Rynall Schrag, Urbandale, Iowa; James W. Krehbiel, Charleston, Ill.; Harley J. Stucky, North Newton, Kan.; Leann Toews, Goessel, Kan.; Jim Juhnke, North Newton, Kan.; Robert E. Krehbiel, Pretty Prairie, Kan.; Dale R. Schrag, Newton, Kan.

Activities will also include period farming demonstrations, artisan displays and food.

(Ethnic Meal)
5-7 p.m.
Eden Mennonite Church

Menu: ham, sausage, fried potatoes, kraut berogie, cucumber salad, mach kucken. Costs: under 5, $5,; students, $10; adults, $15. Deadline for ordering tickets: July 20.

Oral histories and slide presentations to be given during mealtime elsewhere in the church.

(Gathering for speakers, stories and music)
7:30 p.m.
Eden Mennonite Church

Emcee: Wynn Goering, Albuquerque, N. M.

Speakers: Gordon Kaufman, Cambridge, Mass., and Rachel Waltner Goossen, Topeka, Kan.

Music: A Hymn of Heritage, composed by Steven Stucky, Ithaca, N.Y.; text by Gladys Graber Goering, Moundridge, Kan.; directed by Marles Preheim, North Newton, Kan.

Reader’s theatre of stories, adapted and directed by John McCabe-Juhnke, North Newton, Kan.

Ehrene & Preisen
Sunday, Aug. 15

Swiss (Volhynian) Mennonite congregations are encouraged to reflect on the 125th anniversary during their Sunday worship services.

Featured Participants

Gladys Graber Goering, lyricist of A Hymn of Heritage — Born at Freeman, S.D. Lives in Moundridge, Kan. Writer and homemaker.

Wynn Goering, emcee — Native of Moundridge, Kan. Former instructor and administrator at Bethel College, North Newton, Kan. Instructor of strategy
and research associate at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Rachel Waltner Goossen, speaker — Grew up in Goessel, Kan.; Upland, Calif.; and Normal, Ill. Taught history at Bethel College, North Newton, Kan.; University of Kansas, Lawrence; and Goshen (Ind.) College. Now lives in Topeka, Kan.

Gordon Kaufman, speaker — Grew up in North Newton, Kan. Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. Professor of Divinity emeritus at Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass. Pastored the Mennonite Congregation of Boston. Lives in Cambridge.

John McCabe-Juhnke, reader’s theatre director — Born at Moundridge, Kan. Professor of communication arts at Bethel College, North Newton, Kan. Lives in North Newton.

Marles Preheim, conductor of A Hymn of Heritage — Native of Freeman, S.D. Retired this spring after 22 years as professor of music and director of choral music at Bethel College, North Newton, Kan. Lives in North Newton.

Steven Stucky, composer of A Hymn of Heritage — Born at Hutchinson, Kan., and grew up in Kansas and Texas. Professor of music at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. Has written commissioned works for the Chicago Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Chanticleer and others.

Sojourn to a Celebration

For more than three centuries, a group of Anabaptists sojourned across Europe in search of religious freedom. Members of a movement with its roots in the 15th century Reformation, they placed discipleship–living their lives with Jesus Christ as their model–over the demands of state and society. As a result, they risked persecution and ostracism for their faith.

Of Swiss ethnicity, these Anabaptists (one of a number of such groups that sprang up across the continent) found their way east, trying unsuccessfully to establish communities to live out their beliefs in France, Germany, Poland and Russia. In the late 18th century, they were allowed to settle in the western Russian province of Volhynia. But when their religious freedom was again threatened, they emigrated in 1874 to the plains of Kansas and South Dakota.

Now 125 years later, these Swiss (Volhynian) Mennonites can still be found in enclaves such as Moundridge and Pretty Prairie, Kan., and Freeman, S.D. But these people of the prairie have also become people of the world, continuing the sojourn of their ancestors by moving from their traditional communities to face new opportunities and challenges elsewhere. The result has been evolving concepts of peoplehood, community and faith.

Celebrating 125 years of Swiss (Volhynian) Mennonites in the United States is a time to commemorate their past, consider their present and contemplate their future.