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Sonnenberg Mennonite Church celebrates 200th anniversary

KIDRON  This weekend’s festivities honoring Sonnenberg Mennonite Church’s 200th anniversary is much more than a celebration of the people and the area’s unique past and heritage.
History will come alive through many of the bicentennial’s scheduled activities Sept. 24-26 such as a cemetery tour and sing-a-long at the former building.

At the same time, seeing how the church and the faith of members are still going strong after 200 years shows God is at work and there is hope for the future.

“One of the things we want to emphasize about the celebration is … we’re celebrating God’s faithfulness through all those years that gives us hope for the future,” said Pastor Mel Hathaway. “God has been here and working through this church for 200 years and we trust God will continue to work and build his kingdom in this community. It’s neat to be a part of that.”

Everyone is invited to the three-day celebration, which is free to the community.

The schedule includes:
Friday, Sept. 24
* 7 p.m.: Sing-a-long at the former church building at Sonnenberg Village, 13497 Hackett Road.
Saturday, Sept. 25
* 3 p.m.: Kids festival and displays in church foyer.
* 5 p.m.: Hot dog roast and ice cream
* 5-7:30 p.m.: Activities for all ages (scavenger hunt, history quiz, etc.)
* 6 p.m. Guided tour of the church cemetery
* 7:30 p.m.: Informal gathering in the sanctuary
Sunday, Sept. 26
* 10 a.m.: Worship service in the sanctuary. Guest speaker: Anna Ressler
* 9 a.m.-noon: Displays in the church foyer
* Noon: Lunch.
Visit www.sonnenbergmc. org for more information.

Sonnenberg was the first congregation of Swiss Mennonites in the area. Other area churches have their roots at Sonnenberg.

The early settlers met in homes until they built their first church. Interestingly, a small replica of the first church can be seen at Sonnenberg Village. The second church building was moved to Sonnenberg Village and is now a Welcome Center and serves as a performing arts venue.

The third building is the current building with a membership of about 150 and about 100 congregants on Sundays.

One of the unique events of the weekend is the cemetery tour. Hathaway said the early settlers were buried in a plot of land nearby but there is a monument in the present cemetery that lists their names. The first woman on record who died and was buried at the first site was the wife of the church’s first pastor. She died within about a year of when she arrived to the U.S. and came to this area.


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