Rosanna Replies: A Question and Answer Session with Plain Kansas
Thanks to all of you who answered the recent survey and gave us such kind and constructive feedback. I’ll not be able to answer all of the questions directly, but I think you’ll find that if you keep reading the columns, most of the questions will answer themselves. But I thought I would take this opportunity while the questions are still fresh to answer a few.
Can you tell us more about the German Baptists? The focus of this column wasn’t religious education, so I have not devoted a lot of space in talking about my faith. However, faith is a large part of our everyday lives, and I am not embarrassed to talk of my beliefs. You will probably learn more from my weekly column than from a fact sheet that doesn’t give as personal of an account, but here a few tidbits:
The Old German Baptist Church has approxImately 4,000 members in church districts all across America- from Wisconsin to Florida, Virginia to California. One of the defining differences about our faith is the emphasis on the “Brethren”. This term refers to church members regardless of gender. As a female member, I am considered part of the Brethren. Unity in belief and practice is a big focus both in individual home districts and the Brotherhood at large. One thing that I have come to realize (having been a baptized member of this church for nearly thirteen yeas) is that every practice, large or small, has a really good spiritual reason behind it. For example, our seating arrangements: we have church services on Sundays, with the Brethren and Sisters sitting separate. Church services can be a rather personal experience, and I would be nervous and unable to concentrate very well if I had to share that by sitting next to a man who was not my brother or special friend. Another example is our “plural” ministry. We elect our ministers from the congregation instead of having them seminary trained. Thus, their ministry efforts are unpaid, but a two hour service is shared by three ministers. Since each minister has a different way.of speaking, and favored topics, we like to say that some of the ministers preach about the Meat of the Word, some preach about the Bread or the Fruit. Thus, when several ministers share a Sunday preaching, we get a Square Meal! Our Communion services are a part of a weekend-long Lovefeast which each district hosts once a year. Members are encouraged to travel to share a communion service with the Brethren in other states: Perhaps one practice most unique to the Brethren is our Annual Conference. Our four-day Annual Conference allows the entire Brotherhood to gather to fellowship together and answer any doctrinal questions so that we all practice alike, regardless of area.
How did you meet Kevin Williams? Ever since we were approached five years ago by an author wanting to turn our family farm into a book, I knew the time would come when we would share our family and farm with the public. But that was not the right time nor the person for the job. This fall, I felt that the right time had come, so I started doing a little research. I was intrigued with what I found about a certain Kevin Williams, but didn’t figure he’d want to talk to me. Then, one day in the late fall I received a message on the answering machine that nearly bowled me over: “Hi, this is Kevin Williams, and I was calling to talk to Rosanna…” He was calling to inquire about the possibilities of filming a TV show at our farm or one of our Amish neighbor’s. I was impressed at his polite acceptance of my deference, which. prompted me to suggest that although I wasn’t interested in becoming a television sensation, I thought that I had an idea for another weekly column. And my awkward suggestion was taken seriouslyl The right person had found me, once I had acknowledged the right time had arrived. Sometimes a project has to be put back into the incubator until the right time has come to hatch.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR EDUCATION: Although the German Baptists don’t have church-funded schools, there are a number of private schools across the nation operated by our Brethren. Most of us children were able to attend all eight grades at such a private school. However, my younger sister Joanna now attends a small public school due to the fact that the private school was unable to continue because of financial shortages. About one-third of our families across the Brotherhood educate at home, a third attends public schools, largely because of the environment. However, increasing numbers of our members are earning their GEDs in order to retain jobs and to quality to home school their children (some states have laws that require all home school teachers/mothers to have a high school degree). College attendance is not a common practice. Generally, college is only taken for those pursuing a medical field. As for my own education…you’ll hear more about that later…..
PART II: Stay tuned for part II tomorrow where Rosanna answers questions about teaching, dating (including herself), and weddings..