NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Native German speakers and those interested in the German language who live in the south central Kansas area have a unique opportunity to celebrate the beginning of the Advent season (the part of the Christian year that anticipates Christmas) each year at Bethel
Students and faculty in the college’s German and music departments present a Deutsche Weihnachten (German Advent) service annually in early December. This year’s service is Sunday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. in the Bethel College Mennonite Church.
This will be the 23rd Deutsche Weihnachten service at Bethel for Professor of German Merle Schlabaugh, who organized the first one in 1985. He says that a special invitation is extended to high school German teachers in the area to bring their students, as well as to German-speaking foreign exchange students, since the entire service takes place in the German language.
The service will include candle lighting, Scripture readings, a meditation, traditional German carol singing and service music by Bethel College choirs and ensembles.
The Bethel Concert Choir as well as other vocal ensembles and college instrumentalists, under the direction of William Eash, professor of music, will perform German Advent and Christmas works. Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, professor of music, will serve as organist. The organ prelude will begin at approximately 6:45.
Choral works include, among others, “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied” by Johann Pachelbel, “Die mit Tränen Säen” by Johann Hermann Schein, “Es ist ein Rose” by Hugo Distler, “Zu Bethlehem geboren” by Manfred Meier and “Weihnachtliches Wiegenlied” by Fritz Greis.
Bethel College student Andrew Findley, a senior German major from Coffeyville, will present a brief meditation. Advanced German students will give the Scripture readings: Jeff Buller, senior from Inman; Simone Classen, junior exchange student from Bergische Universität in Wuppertal, Germany; Grant Hiebner, junior from Hampton, Neb.; Austin McCabe-Juhnke, sophomore from North Newton; Kasey McClendon, junior from Cunningham; Cassandra Preston, junior from Valley Center; and Miriam Regier, senior from Newton.
Deutsche Weihnachten is free and open to the public. There will be an offering taken for the work of Mennonite Central Committee in hunger or war relief.
The service closes with the candlelight singing, by choirs and congregation, of “Stille Nacht.” A reception with German Christmas goodies and hot beverages will follow in the fellowship hall. The church, located at 25th Street and College Avenue in North Newton, is handicapped accessible.
Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the highest ranked Kansas college in the national liberal arts category of U.S. News & World Report’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.