AMY THOMPSON AVISHAI

young mennonites

It is Sunday in Zanesville, Ohio, and I am with a community of Mennonites who have welcomed me politely, though cautiously. Do I want to become one of them, they ask? I sit among them in church. They quietly inform me that this time is only between them and God. No pictures allowed. Later, I’m invited for a Sunday meal. A gathering of generations, but again, no pictures allowed.

The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptists, often mistaken for the Amish. They practice non-violence, believe in strong community and simplicity of life. Ohio is home to one of the largest Mennonite populations in the country. My time was spent in the southeastern towns of Zanesville, Logan and Carbon Hill. I was especially drawn to the young people, in how religion permeated all aspects of their lives.

Reacting to report cards at the end of the school year
  
Running in circles around the house
  
Playing on the swings as their parents work at church
     
  
Waiting in the dugout before taking the field, Mennonite community, Logan, Ohio
  
Climbing a barn ladder
  
A sister and her brothers play on a trampoline on a Sunday afternoon, Mennonite family, Logan, Ohio
     
  
Soaring during recess, Mennonite community, Zanesville, Ohio
  
  
A hymal book lies on a freshly mopped floor at school.
     
  
A teacher helps a student prepare for final exams.
  
  
Fighting fatigue near the end of the day, Mennonite school, Carbon Hill, Ohio
     
  
Sharing secrets while parents mingle