By DL PERRIN
THE GOSHEN NEWS
SHIPSHEWANA — It started as a way to shed light on the Mennonite and Amish churches.
And 25 years later, The Menno-Hof Amish Mennonite Information Center in Shipshewana is still thriving
A highly anticipated part of the 25th anniversary celebration will be the traditional haystack dinner on Saturday, July 13 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. The dinner will be on a donation basis at the Farmstead Inn pavilion, on the west side of Van Buren Street, across from the flea market.
Besides the dinner and the usual hourly tours of Menno-Hof, there will be a reserved—seating presentation in the Menno-Hof lecture room by Dr. Gerald Brunk.
At 6:30 pm, Brunk will be presenting “My road to decision: An impersonation of Menno Simons.”
Brunk does a portrayal of the Dutch Anabaptist founder and leader. It covers how left the priesthood of the Catholic Church and became overseer of his followers, the “Menists.” Seating is limited. RSVP for the presentation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 260-768-4117.
It began in 1972, according to original board member, the Reverend Harvey Chupp. He was working in a Shipshewana hardware store and serving as a part-time pastor at Shore Mennonite Church. His observations of the public’s impressions and general misconceptions of the Amish and Mennonite churches concerned him.
“Questions by the tourists about the community – and answers by the locals – both fascinated and troubled me,” said Chupp. “Questions like: “Are the Amish Christians? Or do the Amish people use banks? And where can I find a real Amish community? What we see are fake Amish for the tourists.”
Chupp and fellow church members created a slide presentation about the Anabaptist Mennonite/Amish story. Robert Lambright, owner of the Shipshewana Auction and Flea Market, let them set up a table to promote the presentation and hand out brochures inviting the public to the church to learn. Lambright believed in their efforts and donated land southwest of the flea market. He then offered a matching grant challenge of $500,000 to build a visitor’s center. From that humble beginning, 16 years later in 1988 the center opened and continues to make progress delivering their message to thousands of visitors each year
Menno-Hof is located at 510 S. Van Buren St. in Shipshewana and offers interactive tours with hands-on activities for the whole family. The gift shop features handmade items crafted by local Amish and Mennonites. Menno-Hof is a non-profit organization operated by a board of Amish, Beachy Amish, Conservative Mennonite and Mennonite Church USA members. Summer hours: Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (last tour begins at 6:15) and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last tour begins at 4:15).
For more information visit www.mennohof.org