Sunday, February 15, 2009

Visiting the Old Order Mennonites

Last Sunday I traveled outside my comfort zone and attended an Old Order Mennonite church. For the most part I was prepared for the visit by two Old Order friends of mine, William and Gerald. The day before the visit I called their home to get directions to the church and any last minute guidance of what to expect (didn't want to make a fool of myself). Gerald told me this, "...just don't go through the wrong door." HUH!?!

Okay, so I arrived at the church completely nervous and afraid I'd do something stupid like go through the wrong door. No worries though I managed to get through the right door :)

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Old Order Mennonites here's a website you might find helpful to fill in your gaps of knowledge.

Back to my experience. I arrived at the church in my car and was trying to find a inconspicious spot to park among the horse and buggies. After parking we were greeted by a couple that turned out to have a fairly close connection to my friend William. The wife, Sharon, offered to have me and my guests (one of the girls from Sandal House and her daughter) come sit with her. Sharon was the main reason we didn't walk in the wrong door :)

At the Old Order church all the women enter through one side of the church and the men the other side. Women all sit together on pews on their side of the church, and across the way is the men sitting in pews on their side.

The service was two hours long and I was completely distracted through the whole of it. The child we brought with us was only two years old, and had never had to sit quietly that long before. I was in a state of tension for most of the service trying to keep her well behaved.

After the service the ladies all went out their door and congregated outside together to visit. One side of the yard was a circle of visiting ladies and the other side of the yard was a circle of visiting men. Many of the ladies asked me what I thought of the service and I had to admit to not being able to get much from it due to the two year old. I decided at that point I wanted to come back one more time to atleast be able to know what it was they were sharing during the service. Next time no toddlers!


Stacey said...

wow..... that had to be quite the experience! can you just imagine what would have happened had you have gone through the wrong door? I mean it would have been akin to accidently walking into the men's room! Scary. It reminds me of those novels I read about early america and the puritans and how they sat the women on one side and the men on the other.... I had no idea that still existed. Keep educating me Jenn I really need to climb out of my box!

Jill said...


We learned the song you taught Discovery a couple weeks ago at our Baptist church. I cried as I thought about you and your sweet spirit! I hope everything is going well for you. I think about you still, often.