Recent Young Center presentations are available on YouTube. Click on a title to view the recording.
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
From its founding in 1722, the community of Herrnhut quickly grew to become the epicenter of a transatlantic religious movement that would go on to attract thousands of Europeans, American Indians, and enslaved Africans: the Moravian Church. In his recent book, based on the analysis of thousands of documents from archives in Germany and the United States, Paul Peucker takes a fresh look at the origins of Herrnhut and demonstrates how this community was able to survive despite the existing regulations against new religious groups in early modern Germany.
Paul Peucker is archivist of the Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He holds a doctorate in history from the University of Utrecht and a degree from the State Archives School in The Hague. He worked as archivist at the Moravian Archives in Herrnhut, Germany, before becoming director at the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem in 2004. Peucker is the managing editor of the Journal of Moravian History and the author of A Time of Sifting: Mystical Marriage and the Crisis of Moravian Piety in the 18th Century (2015). His most recent book on the origins of the Moravian Church, Herrnhut: The Formation of a Moravian Community, 1722–1732, was published simultaneously in English and German in 2022 and received the 2023 Dale Brown Book Award.
Tuesday, March 23, 2023
In the eighteenth century, the Dutch Doopsgezinden (Mennonites) were moved to compassion and generosity by the persecution of their fellow believers in the Canton of Bern in Switzerland and the troubles of the Prussian and Palatine brothers and sisters. They pursued various means to help them. Yet when the demand became too great in the flow of immigrants through Rotterdam to Pennsylvania via England, they had to limit their generosity.
Lydia Penner, coeditor of Documents of Brotherly Love: Dutch Mennonite Aid to Swiss Anabaptists, Volume III (1712-1784), grew up on a farm near Steinbach, Manitoba, a community originally settled by Plautdietsch-speaking Mennonites from South Russia (Ukraine) in 1874. She has done various kinds of work, including journalism, ministry in Dutch Mennonite congregations, and translating. She is a naturalized Dutch citizen and lives in The Hague, Netherlands.
Tuesday, March 23, 2023
Presentations include “‘Eine besondere Liebe’: The Story of the Amsterdam Archives Project” by John L. Ruth, “Anabaptist Strategies for Survival in Eighteenth Century Switzerland, the Rhineland, and North America” by Edsel Burdge Jr., and “The Challenge of Translation: Eighteenth-Century Dutch and German in Modern American English” by Lydia Penner. A time for discussion will follow the presentations.
John L. Ruth is a historian and author, whose books include The Earth is the Lord’s: A Narrative History of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference (2001) . Edsel Burdge Jr. is research associate at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, Elizabethtown College, and coeditor of Documents of Brotherly Love: Dutch Mennonite Aid to Swiss Anabaptists, Volume III (1712-1784) . Lydia Penner is a retired minister in the Dutch Mennonite Church, a freelance translator, and coeditor of Documents of Brotherly Love: Dutch Mennonite Aid to Swiss Anabaptists, Volume III (1712-1784) .
Thursday, November 10, 2022
It is estimated that the Amish population is doubling every 20-22 years, which is an amazing rate of growth for any group of people, anywhere in the world. Likewise, the number of settlements or communities is doubling at nearly the same pace. This lecture examines how this growth has come about and the geographic expansion of the Amish beyond Pennsylvania and several midwestern states, into the southern, western, and New England regions, as well as Canadian provinces both to the east and west of their historic locations in Ontario. Population and settlement growth is a product of both internal forces, such as high fertility/large families combined with a high rate of baptism by daughters and sons into the Amish faith; and external forces, such as advantageous land prices and the rise of non-agricultural economic opportunities, especially carpentry and sawmill work, among others. The lecture concludes with projections of population and settlement growth to the mid-century as possible presentiments of change in their cultural and social fabric.
Joe Donnermeyer is professor emeritus in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University. Although a criminologist for most of his academic career, he has a deep and continuing interest in the social, cultural, and economic changes affecting the Amish. Donnermeyer has published two books and numerous peer-reviewed book chapters and journal articles about the Amish. He cofounded and serves as coeditor of the Journal of Plain Anabaptist Communities , which is part of the digital library at The Ohio State University.
Thursday, October 20, 2022
The Amish are famous for their disconnection from the modern world and all its devices. But Old Order Amish today are selectively engaging with digital communication technology. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork conducted in two Old Order Amish settlements in Indiana, Lindsay Ems finds that the Amish do not allow digital communication technologies to drive their behavior; instead, they actively configure their sociotechnical world to align with their values and protect their community's autonomy. This talk will explore the various decisions made by members of Amish communities to guide digital communication technology use in an effort to maintain community wellness.
Lindsay Ems is an associate professor of communication and media studies at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her research explores the social impacts of digital communication technologies. Her new book, Virtually Amish: Preserving Community at the Internet’s Margins , explores approaches to resisting the damaging forces of high-tech capitalism that impact all who live and work in today’s information society, as deployed in Old Order Amish communities.
Thursday, September 22, 2022
This presentation explores the soundscapes and musical practices of eighteenth-century Moravian mission communities in eastern Pennsylvania. The sonic histories of these religious communities provide new insights into the ways that music and sound functioned as a site of cultural encounter between German missionaries and Indigenous communities in early America, demonstrating the rich and multifaceted meanings that eighteenth-century music and religious history hold for contemporary Americans.
Sarah Eyerly is associate professor and Curtis Mayes Orpheus Professor of Musicology at Florida State University. Her current projects include a biography and documentary film on the life of the eighteenth-century Mohican musician, Joshua; heritage tourism and Indigenous representation at Moravian mission sites in Ohio; and sound reconstruction of the Apalachee and Spanish musical culture of Mission San Luis in Tallahassee, FL. Her first book, Moravian Soundscapes: A Sonic History of the Moravian Missions in Early America (Indiana University Press, 2020), received the Young Center's Dale W. Brown Book Award.
The Amish and Their Neighbors: A Multidisciplinary Conference • June 2–4, 2022
Thursday, June 2, 2022
The past two decades have witnessed extreme political polarization and paralysis, culture wars between progressives and conservatives, and racial diversity and division. These have been obvious and the focus of both media and scholarly commentary. What is less obvious are the tacit cultural tribes into which Americans sort themselves and their allegiances that often remain unrecognized and unspoken. Bowman's presentation will examine the American cultural context of the early twenty-first century, especially as it pertains to the Amish.
Carl Desportes Bowman is director of survey research at the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. He is the author of Brethren Society: The Cultural Transformation of a “Peculiar People” and Portrait of a People: The Church of the Brethren at 300.
Epidemics and Echo Chambers: What the Pandemic Teaches Us About Beliefs, Behaviors, and Community
Friday, June 3, 2022
COVID-19 highlighted the prevalence and influence of misinformation within the Amish community and put Amish health care decisions into the media spotlight. However, the recent pandemic is not the only instance where the health behaviors of the Amish community have been subjected to public scrutiny. Stein will explore how the relationship between health officials and the Amish has developed over time and how public health directives were accepted (or not) in Amish communities during COVID-19.
Rachel E. Stein is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at West Virginia University. Her research focuses on community building and health in Amish communities.
Plain Politics: Assessing Old Order Amish Voter Participation in the 2014, 2016, and 2020 Presidential Elections
Saturday, June 4, 2022
In recent years, political operatives have engaged in formal and informal efforts to register Amish voters and mobilize them on Election Day. In particular, the 2004, 2016, and 2020 presidential elections witnessed significant outreach efforts to members of the Old Order community in Pennsylvania and beyond. But to what extent did Amish participate in these elections? This presentation provides a comparative analysis of Amish voter registration and voter turnout across these three elections.
Kyle Kopko is an adjunct professor of political science at Elizabethtown College and executive director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a legislative service agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. He is the author of more than 30 scholarly publications, and his research has been featured in national and international news outlets.
Tuesday, April 5, 2022
Since the early twentieth century, the Brethren in Christ—formerly known as the River Brethren—have claimed that they adopted their current denominational name during the American Civil War when the United States government required them to register or go on record as a Peace Church in response to the draft. The conscription laws did not include such a requirement, nor has contemporary documentation of such action by the church been found. So what really happened and how did the Brethren in Christ get their name? Join a retired state government archivist on a fascinating romp through church.
Jonathan R. Stayer was supervisor of reference services at the Pennsylvania State Archives when he retired in 2019 after 35 years of employment. He is vice president of the South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society (SCPGS) and serves on the boards of the York County History Center and the Friends of Camp Security. Stayer volunteers at both the State Archives and the History Center.
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Joe A. Springer shares recent scholarship on the earliest hymnals published by German-speaking Anabaptists in the 16th century. He devotes particular attention to the 1564 Etliche schöne Christliche Geseng, the first known edition of the Ausbund hymnal still in use among Old Order Amish today.
Joe A. Springer has served as curator of the Mennonite Historical Library, Goshen (IN) College since 1986. He holds a BA in history from Goshen College and an MA/MLS in history and library science from Catholic University of America. He enjoys studying the bibliographical evolution of specific works as well as interconnections among different works. In his work, Springer regularly fields questions related to printing history, hymnody, and genealogy.
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Julia Spicher Kasdorf presents an illustrated lecture and reading of the poetry of Jane (Turner) Rohrer, one of the first Mennonites to publish poetry in the mainstream literary press in the United States. Rohrer, born in 1928 in Broadway, Virginia, was best known as the wife of the Lancaster County painter Warren Rohrer during his lifetime. She is the author of two collections of poetry, Life After Death and Acquiring Land, and anticipates an exhibition at Woodmere Art Museum in April 2022, Hearing the Brush: the Painting and Poetry of Warren and Jane Rohrer .
Julia Spicher Kasdorf co-curated a Palmer Museum of Art exhibition and coedited with Christopher Reed and Joyce Henri Robinson the catalogue Field Language: The Painting and Poetry of Warren and Jane Rohrer. She has also published four books of poetry: Sleeping Preacher; Eve’s Striptease; Poetry in America; and Shale Play: Poems and Photographs from the Fracking Fields, created in collaboration with Steven Rubin. She teaches poetry writing at Penn State, where she is a Liberal Arts Professor of English.
Seeking Religious Toleration: Anabaptist Communication Networks and Migration in the Seventeenth Century
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Rose Beiler explores the connections between seventeenth-century European Anabaptists in Switzerland and the Netherlands and many places in between. She explains why those connections arose, how participants communicated across cultural, linguistic and political borders, and how their relationships shaped migration opportunities and flows. The networks and processes of mobility that began in the seventeenth century extended across generations and expanded well beyond the Rhine Valley by the eighteenth century.
Beiler has published Immigrant and Entrepreneur: The Atlantic World of Caspar Wistar, 1650-1750 (Penn State University Press, 2008) and essays that look at the intersections of religion and migration within Europe and to the British North American colonies. She is currently working on a book titled Communication Networks and the Dynamics of Migration, 1630-1730 and a companion digital project, PRINT—People, Religion, Information Networks, and Travel .
BROWN BOOK AWARD LECTURE
Migration Stories of Mennonites on the Move: Russia, Canada, Germany, and Paraguay (1870-1945)
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Paraguay’s oldest and largest Mennonite colonies are Menno Colony, founded by a group of voluntary migrants who moved from Russia to Canada in the 1870s and from Canada to Paraguay in the 1920s, and Fernheim Colony, established by a group of refugees who fled from Soviet Russia to Germany in 1929 and settled next to Menno Colony in 1930. In this lecture, John Eicher argues that the colonies remained socially and spiritually divided for the first twenty years of their existence because their migration stories were not mutually intelligible. On a broader level, Eicher suggests that all humans live inside group narratives that shape the way they understand time, space, good, evil, and reality itself.
John P. R. Eicher is an assistant professor of history at Pennsylvania State University-Altoona. He received degrees from Goshen College and the University of Iowa and visiting fellowships from the Free University of Berlin, the University of Freiburg, and the German Historical Association (Washington, DC). His book, Exiled Among Nations: German and Mennonite Mythologies in a Transnational Age (Cambridge University Press, 2020), received the 2021 Dale W. Brown Book Award.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Felipe Hinojosa provides an overview of Latino religious politics in the Mennonite Church in the 1960s and 1970s, as discussed in his book Latino Mennonites: Civil Rights, Faith, and Evangelical Culture . He focuses on how Latino Mennonites forged coalitions with Black Mennonites to both push back against the racism they experienced in the church and to fight for a seat at the Anabaptist table.
Felipe Hinojosa is an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. He serves as director for the Carlos H. Cantu Hispanic Education & Opportunity Endowment at Texas A&M and is editor for the interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed, and online moderated forum Latinx Talk. His work has appeared in Zócalo Public Square, Western Historical Quarterly, American Catholic Studies, Mennonite Quarterly Review, and in multiple edited collections on Latinx Studies.
Thursday, April 13, 2021
The Young Center and The Bowers Writers House welcome poet Fred Marchant for an evening celebrating William Stafford (1914-1993), a Library of Congress Poet Laureate with significant ties to the Church of the Brethren. Marchant and Jesse Waters, director of the Bowers Writers House, discuss Stafford’s life and legacy and read some of his poems. Young Center Interim Director Steve Nolt review the World War II context in which Stafford declared his conscientious objection to war and the Civilian Public Service program in which he served for four years.
Fred Marchant is the author of several books of poetry, including his most recent, Said Not Said (Graywolf, 2017), which was named an Honored Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards. He is the editor of Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford (Graywolf, 2008) and Professor Emeritus of English at Suffolk University in Boston.
Thursday, March 25, 2021
The church has always contended that matters of killing must be subject to theological ethics. Though many traditions have not rejected all use of deadly force, all have made judgments on when, how, and by whom this can be done. One of the tools within US foreign policy is the selling or giving of weapons and related systems. This practice is used to strengthen diplomatic relations, further national interests, and bring economic benefit to the US arms industry. This lecture describes how this process is seen within the strategic planning of Washington, challenges underlying assumptions, and argues that such transfers cannot be separated from war-making and must be subject to ethical reasoning.
Nathan Hosler is director of the Church of the Brethren's Office of Peacebuilding and Policy based in Washington, DC, and a pastor at the Washington City Church of the Brethren. He holds a PhD in theological studies focusing on peacebuilding.
KREIDER AND SNOWDEN LECTURES
Responding with Compassion to the Crisis in Northeastern Nigeria
Thursday, March 4, 2021 • 7:00 pm
Kreider Fellow Samuel Dali and Snowden Fellow Rebecca Dali share stories of pain and hope from the Boko Haram crisis and the church’s response. Samuel Dali provides an update on the situation of the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria/Church of the Brethren in Nigeria in the context of ongoing violence in northeastern Nigeria and reflects on the church’s constructive engagement around sociopolitical, economic, and environmental issues that contribute to the possibility of peace in the region. Rebecca Dali reviews the recent humanitarian work of the Centre for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives and discusses the suffering and resilience of women in situations of war and related trauma as refugees and internally displaced persons.
Samuel Dali led Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria during the years of greatest insurgency violence in northeastern Nigeria. He works at peacebuilding and advocacy with ecumenical, interfaith, and political entities in northeastern Nigeria. Rebecca Dali is the founder and executive director of the Centre for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives.
*** Due to the sensitive nature of some of the stories that are shared, the link to the video of this event is not being posted publicly. Please contact the Young Center at email@example.com if you would like access to the recording. ***
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Jonathan Strom explores how the desire of German Pietists to determine “true conversion” distorted the understanding of conversion experiences and worked at cross purposes to the spirituality Pietists hoped to instill.
Strom is senior associate dean of faculty and academic affairs and professor of church history at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia. His recent book, German Pietism and the Problem of Conversion (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018), received the 2019 Dale W. Brown Book Award.
Thursday, November 12, 2020 • 7:00 pm
A presentation by Elizabethtown College senior Caitlin Rossiter on the acquisition, research, and digitization of the Cunningham Papers, a collection of letters, documents, and photographs recently acquired by the Young Center. The documents tell the story of Lloyd and Ellen Cunningham, Brethren missionaries who served in China, the Philippines, and India, and who were imprisoned by the Japanese Imperial Army from 1941 to 1945.
Rossiter is completing a double major in history and French and a minor in religious studies. She plans to attend graduate school for public history or museum studies.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
A talk by Andrew Kloes, recipient of the Dale W. Brown Book Award for The German Awakening: Protestant Renewal After the Enlightenment, 1815-1848 (Oxford University Press, 2019). Historians of modern German culture and church history use “the Awakening movement” to describe a period in the history of German Protestantism between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the Revolution of 1848. Theologically, awakened Protestants affirmed religious beliefs that Protestants had professed since the Reformation; however, they were also distinctly modern. Their efforts to spread their religious beliefs were successful because of the new political freedoms and economic opportunities that the Enlightenment had introduced. Adapting Protestantism to modern society in these ways was the most original and innovative aspect of the Awakening movement.
Kloes is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and has contributed articles on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European religious history to academic journals, including the Harvard Theological Review and Pietismus und Neuzeit. He received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh and works as a historian in Washington, DC.
Thursday, October 8, 2020
An interview with Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, author of the new book The Lives of Amish Women (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020), on her research and findings, which grew out of 35 years of fieldwork.
Johnson-Weiner is distinguished service professor emerita at State University of New York-Potsdam, the author of Train Up a Child: Old Order Amish and Mennonite Schools and New York Amish: Life in the Plain Communities of the Empire State, and a coauthor of The Amish.