Anabaptist History Today, a collaborative storytelling project, has received a COVID-19 Grant for History in the Public Interest to support its work documenting grassroots Anabaptist stories.
It is one of 17 recipients of the grant from the Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
“This grant award provides good exposure for Anabaptist History Today by putting us in the company of other excellent projects,” said co-creator Jason Kauffman, director of the Mennonite Church USA Archives, an Anabaptist History Today partner.
The $2,500 grant will help underwrite the project’s startup costs and enable Anabaptist History Today to do additional outreach.
Led by Kauffman and Jean Kilheffer Hess, executive director of Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, Anabaptist History Today is a collaborative digital project designed to engage and serve the Anabaptist community through storytelling. It is supported by numerous Anabaptist archives and history organizations in the United States and Canada.
“We looked for projects that had a chance at making a big impact in their communities, being successful and representing a diversity of stories,” said Lepage Center director Jason Steinhauer.
The grant’s purpose is to engage with practices, questions and concerns raised by the study of how past pandemics have affected the course of history and how historical study can advance public understanding of the COVID-19 crisis.
Anabaptist History today is collecting stories with digital documents, photos, videos, audio recordings and other media that reveal how these unprecedented times are impacting the lives of Anabaptists. Recent additions include:
— “COVID Chronicles,” a podcast series from Portland Mennonite Church in Oregon, featuring interviews with people in the congregation describing their lives during the pandemic.
— “We Are Blessed in the City, We Are Blessed in the Field,” a video documentary about life at Camp Deerpark in Westbrookville, N.Y., this summer. Camp Deerpark is an outreach ministry of 18 New York City Mennonite churches.
— “A Pastor’s Protest Experience,” a firsthand account from Todd Gusler, pastor of Rossmere Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pa., of his experience at a protest responding to the murder of George Floyd.
“Traditional media outlets are already doing a great job documenting how Anabaptist organizations have responded to the events of 2020,” Kauffman said. “We want Anabaptist History Today to be a grassroots, community platform where people can share personal stories from their daily lives that otherwise might never be published.”