This article was originally published by The Mennonite

‘Anabaptist Trail’ documentary showings scheduled

Photo: John L. Ruth leads an Anabaptist history tour in 1985 along the Limmat River in Switzerland. Photo provided.

Showings of a 90-minute documentary film by John L. and Jay Ruth are being scheduled for September and October by co-sponsors TourMagination and Mennonite Historians of Eastern Pennsylvania (MHEP). Admission is free.

Is There a Lesson? 45 Years on the Anabaptist Trail with John Ruth and TourMagination draws on more than four decades of photography by John L. Ruth on tours on four continents. Supplementary imagery comes from the more than 1,500 participants in tours led by Ruth beginning in 1973. Thematic continuity is woven by onsite commentary videotaped by Ruth’s son Jay on a final tour in 2017.

An ordained minister in Franconia Mennonite Conference since 1950, Ruth received his Ph.D. in English from Harvard University in 1968. He is the author of several books, including Maintaining the Right Fellowship: A Narrative Account of Life in the Oldest Mennonite Community in North America (1984) and The Earth Is the Lord’s: A Narrative History of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference (2001). His most recent book, Branch: A memoir with pictures (2013), includes memories of his decades of Anabaptist heritage tours with TourMagination.

According to Ruth, the motivation for his “memoir-travelogue” documentary film was a concern to leave something interpretive on record for his family, church and wider community. Particularly in mind were many who would have liked to take but could not afford an international Anabaptist history tour, he said. Not only some Mennonites but many other “Pennsylvania Germans” share family origins in the European countries visited on the tours. No less important an audience, Ruth said, are the many who in recent decades have brought other historic backgrounds to the Anabaptist faith community that can be traced originally to Swiss and Dutch heritage.

A video trailer available (above) from TourMagination and MHEP introduces the documentary’s dual theme of “Sword and Song.” According to Ruth, author of the 1974 biography Conrad Grebel, Son of Zurich, this motif seemed to emerge by itself from sifting through his 45-year accumulation of visuals.

Showings of Is There a Lesson? will be at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted:

September 2018
14  The Gallery, Canadian Mennonite University, 500 Shaftesbury Boulevard, Winnipeg, MB R3P 2N2
15  Maple Glen Mennonite Church, 74 Maple Glen Drive, Grantsville, MD 21536
21  Mennonite Information Center, 2209 Millstream Road, Lancaster, PA  17602
29  (3:30 p.m.) Lambright Hall, Lemons Center, Hesston College, Hesston, KS 67062

October 2018
2  Conrad Grebel University College, 140 Westmount Road N, Waterloo, ONT*
4  Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center, 5798 County Road, Berlin, OH 44610
5  Brethren Heritage Center, 428 Wolf Creek Street, Brookville, OH 45309
7  Normal Mennonite Church, 805 Cottage Avenue, Normal, IL 61761
8  Michiana Event Center, 455 East Farver Street, Shipshewana, IN 46565
14 Salford Mennonite Church, 480 Groff’s Mill Road, Harleysville, PA 19438
15 Marion Mennonite Church, 4365 Molly Pitcher Highway, Chambersburg, PA  17201
21 (6:00 p.m.) First Mennonite Church, 430 w. 9th Avenue, Denver, CO 80204
21 Harrisonburg Mennonite Church, 1552 South High Street, Harrisonburg, VA 22802

*Free tickets are available on Eventbrite. Before this event, TourMagination will host a reunion dinner for TM travelers.

More showings, as they are booked, will be announced on the websites of TourMagination and MHEP.

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