We left our hotel in Viernheim, Germany, and headed to Schleitheim, Switzerland. Our bus traveled along and then through the Black Forest. As we climbed a mountain pass, it began to rain. We soon stopped for lunch at an alpine complex of buildings that clearly was a stopover for tourists. Besides restaurants, we passed through gift shops displaying intricately made cuckoo clocks. I found one that cost over $12,000.
From there, it was a short distance to the Swiss border, where our driver had to exit the bus and show several documents before we could enter the country. After a brief delay, we were on our way and soon arrived in Schleitheim, a rural Swiss village where Anabaptists met in February 1527. Though no list of participants remains, scholars are certain that Michael Sattler participated in this meeting of the minds to clarify the beliefs of these radical reformers.
The Schleitheim document contained several main articles that gave form and direction to the young movement. Sattler most assuredly wrote the manuscript that included instructions for adult baptism, the ban, communion, separation of church and state, pastors in the church, nonresistance, and forbidding the taking of oaths.
The Schleitheim Museum is housed on the top two floors of the town’s community building. Because our group was too large, half went upstairs while the rest of us were told to look around. So, we did.
When I opened a large wooden door, I startled three local ladies who were using looms to make scarves and other clothing items. Once we explained who we were, the women relaxed and graciously showed us what they were doing. I found plenty of photo opportunities in the large workspace.
The same was true for the museum. All sorts of antiques had been saved, from the sign on the railroad depot to the first hand-drawn fire engine. Of course, there were old documents, books, and bibles from the time when Mennonites flourished there.
After leaving Schleitheim, we wound our way through gorgeous farm country, where big round bales of hay had just been stacked. I tried to capture the scenery through the tinted bus windows.
Soon we arrived in Schaffhausen at the Rheinfall, a cascading waterfall that draws lots of tourists. A few of the tour boats that take you closer to the falls were operating. It was a beauty to behold, but I had a hard time believing we were standing on the banks of the Rhine River.
We left that beautiful place and headed to Zurich, where we would spend the night.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2022
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