The Amish Cook from Oasis Newsfeatures

GBs in Jo-Ann

CAPTION: The GB ladies in the top photo wearing bright, vivid colors.  In the below - photo - the picture does not capture it, the woman is wearing bright, flaming orange polka dots.

 

Well, Rachel dragged me to Jo-Ann Fabrics in Dayton today so she could get some sort of craft supply that she needed for work.  Jo-Ann Fabrics is one of these big-box all-under-one-roof craft emporiums, kind of like Michael's.  I'm not a very crafty guy, the only thing in there that really catches my interest are the gingerbread house kits. Anything edible catches my eye.  But then I saw some German Baptists strolling the aisles, now that - as someone who studies and writes about "plain people" for a living - piqued my interest.  Dayton sits on the edge of one of the largest German Baptist populations in the world.  For newcomers here from Facebook, I've talked about the German Baptists quite a bit on this site, so I won't go into much detail here.  But a brief refresher: the German Baptists (I call them GBs), or Dunkers as they are sometimes known, are a group of "plain people" that live in rural areas of Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, and California.  With one or two exceptions, most GB churches use automobiles instead of horse and buggies.  They are a "plain church"that doesn't have its roots in Anabaptism like the Amish, Mennonites or Hutterites, but a later religious movement known as Pietism.  Anyway, notice the striking colors these women are wearing?  And these cell phone photos don't really capture the vivid, beautiful colors and patterns.  I felt a little stalkerish prowling the aisles sneaking photos...as a general rule I won't take a face photo of ANYONE (Amish, American, Russian, Martian) and post it on my site without their permission (well, maybe I would a Martian, I hear the National Enquirer pays well), but non-facial shots like this that serve as a documentary exhibit, I don't have a problem with...Anyway, my experience with the GBs goes back almost 20 years and it seems to me that the colors in women's dresses have really livened up over the past generation of GBs.  Bright reds, pretty polka dots, and hot lavenders seem to really have replaced a lot of the typically frumpy grays of the past. I actually really wanted to talk to them about the fabrics they were buying and about what patterns they use, etc, but - again - I thought they might think that was a little creepy for some strange guy to start coming up and quizzing them about their apparel.  SIGH.

Re: GBs in Jo-Ann

The Annual Meeting is the time when the business of the church is conducted. Doctrinal questions (queries) are raised, debated, and voted on by elder delegates from each church district. Those decisions are codified in the "minute book" (Minutes of the Annual Meetings). The Annual Meeting is held at a different district every year to spread out the workload as well as give folks in different regions a better chance to attend. It is also a great time to visit family and friends, and a Good Time is Had By All.  Smile  I was raised GB and have many fond memories of Annual meetings past!

But I digress ... I was a young member back in the 70's, and we wore lots of different colors. I never wore gray! We toned it down for church services, and gravitated toward smaller prints. The top picture shows fabric brighter than I probably would have worn then, but the bottom photo shows fabric that could have been one of my old dresses. Interestingly, their hemlines are much longer than mine -- my dresses fell from a couple of inches below the knee to mid-calf, while theirs is ankle length. But, I've been out of the denomination for 30 years, and I'm sure customs continue to evolve.

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MBN, thanks for that...nice to have a GB perspective on this board.  I am glad you clarified this, I never really saw tons of grays either, I shouldn't have said that...instead it is the word you said "brighter"....back in the early, mid-90s, I just saw a ton of washed out paisleys, floral patterns, etc, colors seemed duller and more predictable then where colors I have seen recently on GBS have been BOLD and vivid...., but we might just chalk that up to the variety of fabrics available today and changing fashion trends.

As far as the annual meeting, I just think it is a great way to butteress esprit de corps among a group and reinforce doctorinal consistency.  You see far fewer "splits" within the GBs (not saying you don't see any) than among the Amish and I think if the Amish had some sort of annual meeting, group picnic, something, you'd see less infighting, more church consistency, etc, but that is just my thought, it's up to the Amish to decide how their church works!Smile

paulaayn's picture

Re: GBs in Jo-Ann

Kevin, I need directions to the bakery in Glenarm.  By Friday morning if you could  Laughing

paulaayn's picture

Re: GBs in Jo-Ann

I don't know that you would have creeped them out, you look pretty harmless  Smile.  Next time just bring Rachel along.  I often get asked if we're Mennonite and it's about 50/50 men/women.  I wouldn't be surprised if the GB are letting in more colours/patterns to help keep young people in the community.   I know I wouldn't want to have to wear grey all the time just because I'm married/a certain age. 

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GBs certainly don't wear just grey!  They wear virtually every color there is.  The controversy is that the more conservative of the group wear small prints, the less conservative wear big prints.  This is more noticable as last year the GBs had a major split and now go by "Old Conference" or "New Conference".

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It was probably wise not to encounter them.....we have a JoAnn's in Olean,NY(25 miles away),which I LOVE. I have dragged Wayne in there,but he says he feels like an alien there. (Therefore,your comment about martians is way too funny as well as appropriate here!!!) I guess what I'm saying is that at a predominately women's store...maybe approaching the GB ladies would've been a bad idea. Just my opinion,of course!WinkUndecided

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They might have known who you were if you told them about the column and books

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You know, I thought of that....and that is distinctly possible, many plain people are familiar with my body of work....but..I guess I wouldn't ever make a good celebrity, because I kinda get shy sometimes and I don't like to put other people on the spot in such a public setting....But, really, I missed out on a real "learning lab/field trip" type opportunityFrown And I am sure if I had brought Rachel into the mix the "creep" factor would have been diminished a bit...Next time, I'll just suck it up and make the most of the opportunity.

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TOOOOO funny!  Yes, good restraint there.  The creepy level would've been upped that's for sure.  However, we get to enjoy them from the comfort of our living rooms.  I ran into a German Baptist lady in a restroom at McDonald's in Kingdom City, MO, and I asked her if she was Mennonite.  She was as nice as could be and said no, she was German Baptist and they and some friends were on their way to Kansas maybe (??) for their yearly meeting or get-together or something.  The cape-type thing is what stood out, but I was so happy she was just a cheerful little thing and didn't act put-off or anything that I asked.  It's kind of narrow-minded now that I think of it, but now when I think of GBs I think, 'Oh what a nice group of people' - and all I met was one! HA HA

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Beth (I owe you an email, by the way), that is really cool...the annual GB conference (a really neat event that I wish the Amish did - for a variety of reasons) was in Kansas a year or two ago, so your encounter was timed perfectly!

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Should have taken your wife with you.  I am sure they would not have mind then. Laughing