Hesston College and local churches to present program in honor of Black History Month

Hesston College will partner with Mennonite churches in Inman and Buhler – Bethel, Hoffnungsau and Inman Mennonite churches (Inman) and Buhler Mennonite Church to present “Common Threads: Anabaptist and African-American Songs and Stories of Suffering and Hope” at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 24, at Bethel Mennonite Church in Inman. The event is free and open to the public though a free-will offering will be received to cover program costs.

“Common Threads” is a program of story and song featuring Hesston College faculty members Tony Brown, John Sharp and Ken Rodgers that explores the way the historical events of Anabaptist religious persecution and African-American racial segregation intersected. They give voices to Anabaptist martyrs and enslaved African-Americans of history by singing their hymns and telling their stories.

February’s Black History Month is for remembrance of historical events and important African-American leaders. “Common Threads” offers deeper understanding about the enslaved African-American and Anabaptist Martyr experience of suffering and hope. High school and junior high youth are especially invited to attend.

“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. Rodgers is director of the Chorale and instructs in the music department. Alumni and Church Relations Director Dallas Stutzman will represent the college. A reception and short Hesston College update will follow the program.

Search “Common Threads” at www.youtube.com for a short video on the program.

Bethel Mennonite Church is located at 256 8th Avenue in Inman.

For more information, contact the Alumni and Church Relations office toll-free at 866-437-7866.