Maybe you saw them perform (and take first place) at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival talent show. Maybe you passed by the former Salvation Army building on West Main Street in Barnesville and wondered what was going on in there.
“If you were passed by a large van and thought, ‘Didn’t I just see them in a buggy pulled by a horse not too long ago?’ Yes. Yes, you did,” said Somerton resident and Christian professional organizer Holly Boyd.
“There is something going on at the old Salvation Army building across from Barnesville Elementary School. There are several “somethings” going on actually,” said Boyd.
It is now a church called Shekinah Christian Fellowship. Shekinah means “ the Glory of God manifested.”
It may be curious to some, but to those directly involved it is transformative and even a bit miraculous.
“It is a very miraculous story,” said Martha Hershberger, wife of church founder Roy Hershberger.
Shekinah is led by the Hershbergers who are also the owners of Joe’s Tires. The Hershberger’s left the Amish way of life as teenagers and have 12 children and many grandchildren.
Roy and Martha are on a mission to bring light to the rest of the Amish world.
They first began meeting in the Grange Hall on Shamrock Drive in 2007 aand have been holding worship services in the Salvation Army building for two years now.
“Roy and Martha have successfully brought several families out of the 1800’s who were taught about a God of anger, not the God of Grace,” Boyd said.
Approximately 80 people, many of whom are children, attend Shekinah Christian Fellowship. Holly and her family have been attending there for less than a year.
“My husband and I, who have never been Amish, attend Shekinah because it is a church that is ‘alive’, when so many of our ‘regular churches’ seem to be lifeless and boring.”
“When you look at us, you think we couldn’t be more different, but really we couldn’t be more alike,” Martha said of herself and Holly.
“We are beginning to understand the message of Grace and it is transforming our church,” Martha said.
She stressed that Amish communities vary vastly in their believes and practices, but that for those who do choose to leave as they did, adjusting to life outside those communities can be very difficult.
One of those adjustments, has been the addition of contemporary Christian music to the worship services.
Martha said that after attending a performance of Quiet Love in Barnesville, she shared with her husband that music was needed in their church.
Martha said that instrumental music is shunned in Amish society and worship services.
“What an amazing thing music does for people,” Martha said. “Music is the language of the soul.”
“When I say, ‘From Buggy to Boogie,’ I mean it,” Boyd said.
Three of the Hershberger girls are part of the group “Signs of Glory” which travels to other churches doing beautiful sign language with contemporary Christian music.
The public is invited to see and hear Shekinah. “Signs of Glory” on Sunday, December 16th at the 9 a.m. worship service.
“We were told at our last performance in Stafford that this is something you don’t see here, especially with ‘ex-Amish’. It s neat because you can ‘see’ the music and because it is done in American Sign Language, deaf people can actually ‘hear’ the music, maybe for first time,” Boyd said.
Holly and Martha say that Shekinah Christian Fellowship is still much a work in progress, as far as the renovation of the building and the changing nature of the service, yet others are encouraged to come and worship with them.
“We worship God here,” Martha said. “We don’t make people change their outward appearance.”
“It is the spirit of God and love that brings people together, not their outward appearances,” she added.
For more information on Signs of Glory you may see them on facebook as His Signs of Glory here: http://www.facebook.com/HisSignsofGlory or call Holly Boyd at 740 757 2944.