Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day, Part 2

Instead of hanging around for Harrisonburg's 4th of July parade, which appeared to only last for 3 or 4 blocks, we decided to head back down to Staunton (what's 25 miles when you're on vacation?) We wanted to see a stone church that we had noticed on the way down the first time, and Staunton looked like it would be fun to poke around in some more. We stopped to take pictures of the Stone Church, a beautiful building set in a grove of trees. We found that it is the oldest Presbyterian Church in continuous use in Virginia, built in 1747, and completed in 1749. It would be a great place for RCC! Lots of trees in the back, picnic tables, a huge play structure. We thought we might go there for church, until we saw that the pastor's name was Beth.

Built to be used as a fort against Indian attacks

When we arrived in Staunton, the town was basically deserted -- almost eerily so. We wandered through the cemetery that took up most of the grounds of the old brick First Episopal Church in town, and then decided to hunt down Gypsy Hill Park where some free concerts were supposed to be happening.

I've never seen a church graveyard that was so close to the church building, and that dominated so much of the grounds. There were graves everywhere!

We saw a great deal more of Staunton as we tried to find the park, and then we found out where everybody in Staunton must have been! The park was huge and packed! People had their lawn chairs covering the ground everywhere within earshot of the music.

This doesn't give you an accurate picture of all the people. Make the picture about 10 times wider, and fill it with people, and then add a whole bunch more behind the photographer, and you get a better idea of the people that were just sitting listening to the music. Then there were all the people walking around, too.

Food booths sponsored by churches and other community groups were doing a brisk business. Joseph had a foot-long hot dog and fries, I had a corn dog, and we shared a fresh-squeezed lemonade, all for the price of one hot dog at the Rose Garden at Bryan's graduation.

The skinny skinny footlong

Heading home, we took advantage of one of the only grocery stores we've seen, and stocked up on some fresh fruit, vegies, and other stuff. Joseph is sure we'll never eat it all. I'm sure we will.

This picture doesn't give an accurate representation either. There were tons of people.

We decided to finish out the 4th watching Harrisonburg's fireworks, where we found another merry mob filling the streets of town. People in lawn chairs filled the streets and sidewalks, oohing and aahing at every burst and bang. It's hard to describe the different sense of community we've noticed here. Us Oregonians seem pretty independent in comparison. Also, we never saw a single fireworks stand anywhere, and we didn't hear other people's individual fireworks going off anywhere. I wonder if they're illegal, or if they just go to community fireworks instead of doing their own.

They shot off a lot of fireworks all at once in a continuous stream without any breaks between. Pretty cool.

Joseph suggested finishing out the holiday with some more ice cream. Hey, why not? We didn't have ANY the day before. So we stopped at the Kline's Dairy Bar at our end of town and tried their ice cream cones this time. Sat out at a table, still no jacket or sweater, in the pleasant summer evening air, and headed back to the motel, just as it started to sprinkle a bit. Somehow Independence Day seemed to mean more over here. We missed home and our own celebrations, but it was good to see how Virginians celebrate.

Klines Ice Cream Bar

Sunday morning, up and heading out for Park View Mennonite Church, partly out of curiosity to see how Mennonites worship and what their music was like, partly because we couldn't find a reformed church in the area, and partly because one of the guys Joseph talked to the other day goes there and told us about it. Easy to find, close to Eastern Mennonite University.

We gave ourselves about 20 minutes to get there and parked. A half hour later, still not finding the church, we decided to change plans. We drove through town, looking for a different church that started their service at 10 or later. Joseph was interested in attending an Episcopal worship service. They didn't start until 10:15, so we decided to check on times at the Mennonite church we had seen at the south end of town. It didn't start until 10:30. We decided to venture into Episcopalian territory. We were late by the time we finally got there and parked, coming in just as the crowd of robed people were filling the back of the sanctuary.

Other than a bit more finery, some kneeling, and much less sermon, the service felt rather familiar. The liturgy was similar -- confession of sins, Santus, Doxology, a lot of Scripture, the Nicene Creed (with enough changes in wording to keep tripping us up), Lord's Prayer, etc. We sang a Psalm in Anglican chant. Communion was a bit stressful, not knowing what we were supposed to do. Some less mobile people were served communion at their seats. Some knelt at the altar and the rector served them, and the rest filed past two pairs of men who held the "bread" (wafers) and a cup of wine that everyone drank out of. We survived, and are more sympathetic to visitors at RCC who come, not knowing our liturgy and routine.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church

After church we drove through Dayton and Bridgewater, long enough to see a few horses and buggies of the Old Order Mennonites, and now we're "home" for the afternoon, resting, writing, reading, and listening to the birds and traffic, before we go out to the Harmonia Sacra Sing this evening. We should be able to get the sermon from RCC anytime now. That's what we'll do next.

A Mennonite buggy in Bridgwater

Question-of-the-day for July 5th. What does the term "blackbumper Mennonite" refer to?


  1. Bev says: Another great post...thanks...I cheated...I wikied the bonus question...really interesting group of people. We had a really cool moonrise tonight before it disappeared into the was pinky orange...very pretty. Have a great day tomorrow...hope you don't get too wet. We leave tomorrow night and won't have web access until wednesday we will catch you then.

  2. Thanks for doing up the pictures and journal. It's fun to keep up with what you are experiencing.

  3. I'm gonna guess that it means the kind of Mennonites that use buggies. (Because some use cars, right?)

  4. Okay, I just looked it up and found out I'm wrong...but I was on the right track! :-)

    I'm loving your pictures!