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A Bethel Christmas tradition turns 25

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A Christmas tradition returns for its 25th year when the Bethel College German and music departments present Deutsche Weihnachten, a German Advent and Christmas service, Sunday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Bethel College Mennonite Church.

Merle Schlabaugh, Bethel College professor of German, has been organizing the Deutsche Weihnachten service since 1985 and says this will likely be his last year to do so. The service celebrates Advent, the part of the Christian year that anticipates the Christmas season.

Admission is free and open to the public, with a special invitation extended to German teachers to bring their language students and German-speaking foreign exchange students.

Presented entirely in German, the Advent service will include candle lighting, Scripture readings, a meditation, traditional German carol singing and service music by Bethel College choirs and ensembles.

Austin McCabe-Juhnke, senior from North Newton, will present a brief meditation. Several advanced German students from various locales will give the Scripture readings: Christopher Eitzen, junior from Xalapa, Mexico; Pia Goedicke, Wuppertal exchange student from Bergheim, Germany; Rosanna Hammon-Hartkop, senior from Lima, Ohio; Barry Harrison, junior from Manchester, England; Meredith Lehman, senior from Bluffton, Ohio; Jacqueline Lohrmann , Wuppertal exchange student from Wuppertal, Germany; Zachary Metzler, sophomore from Newton; and Cassandra Preston, senior from Valley Center.

The Bethel College Concert Choir, along with other vocal ensembles and college instrumentalists, will perform German Advent and Christmas works. William Eash, professor of music, will conduct the ensembles and Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, professor of music, will serve as organist. The organ prelude will begin approximately 15 minutes before the service.

Choral works include, among others, “Zion hört die Wächter singen” by Johann Sebastian Bach, “Alleluja, Alleluja” by Dietrich Buxtehude, “Halleluja! Weihnacht ist da!” by Theo Nestler, “Und das Wort ward Fleisch“ by Georg Philipp Telemann, “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied” by Johann Pachelbel and “Geborn ist Emanuel” and “Still, still, still, weil’s Kindlein,” both by Helmut Bogenhardt.

There will be a freewill offering taken for Mennonite Central Committee hunger or war relief projects.

The service ends, as always, with the choirs and congregation singing “Stille Nacht” (“Silent Night”) by candlelight. A reception with German Christmas goodies and hot drinks follows in the church fellowship hall.

Bethel College Mennonite Church is located at 24th Street and College Avenue in North Newton, with both sanctuary and fellowship hall handicapped accessible. For directions, call the church at 316-283-3667.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2009 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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