A Weekend in Lancaster

     This past weekend I left the city for a short foray into Lancaster, Pennsylvania Amishland —this is always an interesting cultural experience! Even for myself as a Mennonite, after living in a city and out of the Anabaptist community for an extended period, going back to a place like Lancaster can be a bit overwhelming. Often when I visit I like to do some of the ‘touristy’ things, so I thought for this post I might share some of my tourist experiences.

There were several different reasons for my trip and I intended to kill more than one bird with a single stone. ???? The small school I teach at was having a PR banquet on Friday night and I had been recruited to sing and play as part of the program, Saturday was the wedding of a friend, and Monday night I attended an orchestra rehearsal for an upcoming concert. Intertwined with these events I was able to soak up the Mennonite culture of the area which included a High School Mennonite Choral Festival–also an interesting cultural experience!

On Friday afternoon I set off with a group from my school with our destination being the famous Shady Maple Smorgasbord!


Now, for those of you not familiar with Lancaster, this is a famous restaurant/shopping place/banquet hall that every Pennsylvania Mennonite seems to know about. They are renowned for their Amish-style menu and huge buffet of ‘down home’ cooking. If you ever get to Lancaster you should definitely put this on your list of places to visit!


Although, I must say that my mother makes better mashed potatoes and roast beef…but the chicken was AMAZING!

On Saturday, I went to a Mennonite wedding–also another interesting cultural experience. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures from this event, but Mennonite weddings are very unique and I hope to do a post specifically on this in the future.

The Saturday night choral festival was not something I had originally planned into my schedule, but one of my friends told me about it and I thought it would be interesting to observe; I was not disappointed.

Mennonites have a very strong choral tradition and it was interesting to hear the high school students perform a variety of pieces. If you aren’t used to being around a lot of Mennonites, events like this can be rather overwhelming by the sheer magnitude of them gathered in one place. There was every different stripe and brand all congregated together!

Many MANY Mennonites of every shape, size, and style!

Sunday I attended a very conservative Anabaptist church called Weavertown Amish-Mennonite Church. (You can visit their web-site here http://www.weavertown.org/)  This was also a unique experience for me because the church I attend is not so “orthodox” as this particular strand of Anabaptism. The dress of the women would be more conservative than mine, and their headcoverings somewhat different.

Typical Suit Coat

This would be a typical dress for a woman at Weavertown

The men would wear traditional strait cut suitcoats as opposed to modern coats with lapels. One big difference from what I am used to was that the men and women each sat on different sides of the congregation.

On Monday I took the opportunity to do some exploring and picture taking before the rehearsal in the evening. Here are some of my findings…

Popular Mennonite Shopping place

Only in Amish-land…

Buy an Amish hat?

As I mentioned earlier, Anabaptist have a strong choral tradition, and some even prohibit the use of instruments in their congregational worship services. However, there are some that are hoping to incorporate more instruments into life and worship. I am participating in such an event in April and this was a rehearsal for the concert. I didn’t get any pictures of the rehearsal, but hopefully I will be able to get some the weekend of the event. It is also going to be live-streamed, so stay tuned for more about this unique event and a link for the live stream!

After the rehearsal, I packed up my borrowed car and journeyed back to Brooklyn. Looking for a parking spot at 1 in the morning reminded me why I really do prefer to use the subway, but I finally found one relatively close to my apartment and lugged my stuff up the crooked stairway to my cozy (small) apartment. ???? Home.

It always feels a little surreal coming back to the city with its rows of houses and tall buildings after the rolling hills and *ahem* earthy smells of the country (I have always detested the smell of dairy farms!) but each place really has its own unique aspects and special beauty!



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