We had an enjoyable visit with Rosanna Bauman, our Plain Kansas writer, over the weekend. The rural counties west of Dayton, Oho are home to one of the largest German Baptist populations in the world. This is a Plain church that I really love. It shares a lot of similarities to the Amish church, but comes from a completely different set of theological roots.
The past few years have seen some changes to the church. In 2009 the Old German Baptist Brethren endured a split, which centered around theological issues (such as Bible study groups being permitted on days other than Sunday), mission work, and that most divisive technological issue of the day: the internet. Unable to come to a consensus on these issues (this is a very abbreviated explanation) approximately 45 percent of the Old German Baptist Brethren split off to form the Old German Baptist Brethren New Conference. Rosanna is a member of the more traditional Old Order German Baptist Brethren. Rosanna explained to me that they don't call themselves "Old Conference" because "we weren't the ones that changed." She says that the two churches maintain generally cordial relationships, but that there is not a lot of social interaction between the two. One immediate clothing characteristic that denotes which side of the divide Rosanna is on is in her more conservative clothing: solid colored dress and black bonnet over a white kapp. New Conference German Baptists have taken to much brighter and patterned colors. Rosanna does not have TV or radio at home or the internet, and while she will be photographed (something most German Baptists accept) she didn't want to be videotaped ("since we don't own televisions, I'd be uncomfortable being videotaped") and I readily respected that.
Anyway, such theological niceties aside, we met in the appropriately named town of Farmersville, Ohio (after all, she is a farmer) and the charming "Miss Molly's" restaurant, a wonderful outpost of traditional farm fare with flair.
While Rosanna doesn't use the internet herself she did at one point during our meeting as if I had ever "Googled her" and she caught me off guard.
"As a matter of fact, I have not." I admitted. Had I done so, I would have learned that Rosanna is an instructor with the Kansas Rural Center. When she isn't busy on her family's farm, she teaches about meat production and she talked to me about her farm and how they are always striving for the most sustainable practices. In fact, she'll be doing a chicken processing seminar/lecture in Kansas next month with noted author Joel Salatin.
Rosanna is an amazingly articulate young woman who has a deep commitment to the German Baptist church, her family, Kansas, and sustainable agriculture. I hope we hear lots more from her in the future as I think she can share another perspective of Plain living and sustainability and simple living with us. And before I go, I'll get in a plug for Miss Molly's: Rachel and I love this little restaurant, offering a menu and bakery bursting with scratch-made entrees and yummy confections. We left the other night with two massive icing-covered, cream-filled cupcakes...one strawberry and one chocolate. It was like eating a homemade Hostess cupcake. So if you are anywhere in SW Ohio, a meal at Miss Molly's is worth the trip and you get to soak in some beautiful countryside!