Common Threads

Common Threads

Anabaptist and African American Songs and Stories of Suffering and Hope

Common Threads is a program of story and song that features current Hesston College faculty members Tony Brown and John Sharp. They will give voice to Anabaptist martyrs and African American slaves by singing their hymns and telling their stories. It is an exploration of the way Anabaptist religious persecution and African American racial suffering have intersected. Both groups have suffered at the hands of legitimate governments and both found hope in the midst of pain and humiliation.

“Both groups found strength and consolation in their steadfast faith in God,” Sharp said. “They were utterly confident that God’s purposes would, in the end, prevail. Their stories and songs have not typically been linked, but we believe it is useful to do so. Their witness stands for all who will see and hear.”

“Thinking about how we can connect with others and finding those common threads can offer promise for humanity,” Brown said. “In the end we as a human species are more profoundly alike than different. It is the idea of difference that formed the basis for racism, persecution and systematic oppression. Humanity needs to find value in difference while at the same time exploring the common threads that bind us together.”

Brown is a professional baritone, artist in residence and sociology professor. Sharp is a history professor, storyteller and author.