On Friday, May 9, Dr. David Ford, three members of his America and Orthodoxy class, and one other student traveled to Ephrata, Pennsylvania, near Lancaster, to visit the famed Ephrata Cloister, as a field trip for the course.
The Ephrata Cloister was a Seventh-Day German Baptist monastic community founded in 1732 by Johann Conrad Beissel, a German mystic and spiritual searcher. At the height of the community's growth, around 1750, there were 40 white-robed monks living in one big five-story wood-framed dormitory, 40 women monastics living in a separate, similar building, and about 200 members of families who lived nearby, helped support the community, and worshipped on Saturdays with the monastics. The brothers and sisters at this fascinating (and rare) Protestant monastery developed extremely beautiful and intricate calligraphic art, and their ethereal, a-cappella hymn-singing was said to sound angelic.
In his class, Dr. David Ford mentions many of the similarities between this group of and the Orthodox Faith.
The Ephrata Cloister holds special meaning for Dr. David in that his direct ancestors, the Johann Dietrich Fahnestock family, are buried in the Cloister's Cemetery.
We hope that this will be the first of an annual event for the St. Tikhon's Community.