My relationship with Plain culture dates back over 20 years. One of my earliest experiences was when I was a 17-year-old intern with the Middletown Journal in Ohio. While working there as a reporter, I turned my attention to the Plain people in my own backyard. I didn’t know who they were, just that they dressed similarly to the Amish but drove cars and were often seen in area shopping malls. What I would soon learn is that this was a group known as the Old German Baptist Brethren. Intrigued, I decided to do a story about the church for The Journal. During the course of my research, which largely consisted of cruising the rural roads of Preble County, Ohio, I met some members of the GB faith and struck up some friendships. Soon I was attending worship services and having lunch at some of their homes. Photographer Greg Mahany joined me and shot award-winning photographs for what turned out to be a very rewarding package of photos and text for the Sunday paper.
Ever since then I’ve maintained an affinity for this Plain church. I’ve often thought that, in many ways, they seem to blend the best of both cultures, Plain and non-Plain. Perhaps that is an unfairly romanticized view, but back when I was 17 there was a part of me very drawn to this wonderful blend of both. To be sure, they have their own internal issues. The GB church has split several times over the past century. Some groups known as the Old Order German Baptist Brethren still use horse and buggies. And there have been more recent splits over more modern issues, such as use of the internet. I think today there is still a part of me captivated by this church and that I why I am so excited to incorporate a German Baptist voice into this website. Beginning sometime in January, I am going to beginning posting some of the writings of Rosanna, a young German Baptist farm woman from Kansas. Her family farms over 100 acres outside a small Kansas town (which also has a small horse and buggy Amish population nearby). This is a picture of Rosanna with her family. I’ll leave it up to her how much she wants to share about her life with the rest of us, which is why I am not using her full name or town here. But Rosanna is in the front wearing the gray dress. Rosanna will share her life with us in weekly installments from her Kansas farm. If readers enjoy her, then she’ll become a regular. So stay tuned!:) I think she’ll provide us all with a wonderful opportunity to learn more about this group of Plain people.