This simple building in Blackville serves the Calvary Fellowship Mennonite Church. The church was formed in the 1960s when a group of Mennonite families from Ohio and Indiana relocated to the area, including Ray and Susie Miller, founders of the popular Miller’s Bread Basket. The group is part of the Beachy Mennonite denomination, a sect within the Mennonite religion. Mennonite churches arose from the Anabaptist movement of Europe in the sixteenth century. Also called “plain churches,” Mennonite churches share many practices with the Amish, which formed when the latter group split from the Mennonites in the late seventeenth century to follow Jakob Amman.
Beachy Mennonite groups were established in the 1920s and named for Moses Beachy of Pennsylvania. The denomination is conservative in its beliefs and practices, and members often utilize a German dialect, similar to the Amish. The women wear homemade dresses from the same pattern used for centuries along with a veil or cap in white or black on their heads; their uncut hair is affixed in a bun. Men are permitted to wear store-bought clothing, usually khaki pants and white shirts. Otherwise, making the men’s attire would consume too much of the women’s time. Men also usually grow beards, though beards are optional.
Most Mennonites operate their own schools so that the children of the community can be educated while according to the traditions of their religion. In Blackville, the Calvary Fellowship Mennonite School, seen below, teaches the children of the congregation. The small school, located near the church, has around a dozen students and goes through the 12th grade.
Though Blackville Mennonites forgoe many secular practices, members serve an integral, vibrant role in their community. They make a living as many others do, working in practical professions such as farming and store-keeping. Though Miller Bread Basket is no longer owned by Ray and Susie Miller, it is operated by new Amish owners and retains its traditional menu. People travel to Blackville specifically to visit the restaurant, the church, and to get to know the local Mennonite community in order to expand their understanding of the religion and its members.
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