LEOLA, Pa. — A different kind of hymn sing took place May 6 at the Reiff farm near Leola.
Twenty people from Switzerland, mostly from the Reformed Church tradition, gathered with a wide variety of U.S. Anabaptists for worship.
The event brought together Amish; Wenger, Groffdale and Weaverland Old Order Mennonites; members of Mennonite Church USA and other faith traditions.
Rahel Meier of Zurich was impressed that different Anabaptist groups came together for the event.
“Boundaries didn’t exist any more,” she said. “The songs from both sides — Swiss and Anabaptists — were building bridges and enabled talking to one another like good old friends. We have been traveling many miles, and they have opened their door for us.”
Brigitte Gerber, who comes from a village near the Täuferhöhle, the “Anabaptist cave” where early Anabaptists worshiped in secret, was among the participants.
“During the singing, this idea came to my mind: Centuries ago the Anabaptists were singing their songs in prison,” she said. “Today we are singing our different songs in one and the same room. Reconciliation is about to happen in a delicate way.”
The stop was part of a 13-day tour that began in Philadelphia and included stops in Lancaster, in Holmes and Wayne counties in Ohio, and at Niagara Falls and the Finger Lakes.
Peter Dettwiler, pastor and ecumenical officer for the Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton of Zurich, organized the tour, his fifth, with Lancaster planners Don and Joanne Hess Siegrist.
“These Swiss were awestruck by the spiritual Alps they felt here in Pennsylvania and by the Swiss ways they saw within our communities,” Joanne Hess Siegrist said.