Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I noticed in Chambersburg there is a Dunkard Brethren church. They meet the first, third, and fourth (if I recall the sign correctly) Sunday. They're closer to me than my Meeting (an hour away as opposed to about 15 minutes), and I'm intrigued. I'm plain and conservative (primitive?), but belong to a liberal Meeting. Nothing against my Meeting, mind, but I do feel kinship when I am here in Pennsylvania and encounter other Plain folk.
I am feeling this need to be more Intentional (with a capital I) in my Quakerism. I'm not sure how to describe this. For example, back in the day when Friends decided not to keep slaves (for example) it was a decision that had real implications in their lives. They had to do the work or pay the employee. Today I feel like I can be a Friend with my bumper sticker and it makes no real impact. Do you see what I mean? I've taken a Friend's advice and have begun identifying myself as Quaker and that has made some difference. Of course I am modest in my dress and wear a cap and that's Intentional. But I feel like I am not pushed enough -I am too comfortable?
And in this time of serious contemplation I see the sign for the Dunkard Brethren church on Lincoln Way. I don't know that it is a new sign or I've simply never noticed it, but it speaks to me. I am not looking for a new belief, just a more like minded community I think.
Anyone have any experience with the Dunkards?
I went I saw, I sang (well they sang). This was a small congregation of mostly families. Mind you, this was their 1st Sunday evening service so I imagine their regular morning services are larger. The singing was very cool -it was a capella in a very engaging style like harp singing (maybe it was harp singing -shape note). Boy does that stir your soul. They were warm and friendly and I was invited to sit by one woman and her family so I didn't have to sit by myself. We read from the bible and we prayed (they pray by kneeling facing the seat). I'm definitely going back.
They are plain in the sense of dress. The women wore long skirts, but some were contemporary while others were your standard cape (as opposed to, say, the German Brethren cape dresses). They also wore their coverings -the starched white cap you see Mennonite women wear. The men showed similar diversity in their wear. I did see some chin beards and collarless shirts.
Jenna, you have my number now so give me a call. I will be attending their Sunday service and will mark my calendar for their 1st Sunday evening services.
Actually, Old German Baptist (Old Order Dunkard) worship is different from typical Protestant church services. The OGB ministry is a plural, free ministry; usually three or four ministers and a deacon speak. There is an order of worship but, of course, no bulletin. Singing is "lined" (four lines read and sung at a time) and acapella, sung very slowly in unison rather than part singing. Preaching is extemporaneous; nowadays, *very* brief notes may be used by the main preacher. Other speakers rarely use any notes. The congregation kneels for prayer. The home minstry rotates responsibility for the main sermon but, if a visiting minister is present, he will preach the main sermon. No one knows for sure who will preach on a given Sunday.
At North Manchester, Indiana, where I attended the German Baptist church for three years, there would often be 8-10 ministers seated behind the table, facing the congregation. They would go through a ritual of "preferring one another" by "extending the liberty" to speak before each segment of the service; the liberty got extended all the way down to the junior minister, and then went back up the line to the presiding elder if it didn't stop along the way. This is a very impressive ritual of humility.
Old German Baptist worship in a given congregation is usually held every other Sunday. On the "off" Sundays, ministers frequently visit other congregations; the visitor from the greatest distance is expected to do the preaching.
Lined singing! Interesting. I loved it. It was very rich and very resonant.
Don't fret, Jenna. We'll get together with the Brethren. It's been lovely.