Poems and paintings mark 499th anniversary

January 29, 2024 | News | Volume 28 Issue 3
Amy Rinner Waddell | B.C. Correspondent
Gareth Brandt's painting, "A Baptism by Choice," shows the fountain from which the water for the first Anabaptism baptism was taken. (Supplied image.)

The story of Anabaptist origins came to life on Sunday, January 21, as Gareth Brandt marked the 499th anniversary of the Anabaptist movement with a presentation of art and spoken word. The event was held in a portable gallery set up at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., where Brandt serves as an interim member of the pastoral staff.

“The Road to Schleitheim” shows the wagon trail to the monument marking the historic Schleitheim meeting place. Watercolour by Gareth Brant. (Supplied image.) 


Brandt, who taught Anabaptist history and thought at Columbia Bible College for 17 years, has always been drawn to Anabaptist history. “The one date I made my students memorize was January 21, 1525, the beginning of the Anabaptist movement,” he told the audience at the recent event.


Visitors could stroll through the gallery gazing at Brandt’s watercolour paintings of buildings and places central to 16th century Anabaptist historical events. These included the street in Zurich, Switzerland where the Anabaptist movement began; the church where Menno Simons preached in Pingjum, Netherlands; and the cathedral in Münster, Germany, which was the site of the disastrous Anabaptist siege and rebellion in 1534-35.  


Twice during the afternoon, Brandt also gave dramatic recitations of original poems he’d written about the historical sites depicted.


Brandt’s interest in painting, which he had pursued in young adulthood, was revived several years ago when he needed a creative medium to relieve stress.


The watercolours in the current exhibit are based on photos Brandt took on travels to Europe. He chose watercolour as a medium because of the symbolism of water as central to believer’s baptism. “The paintings are in a simple folk art style that is symbolic of the Anabaptist/Mennonite style of simplicity and non-adornment,” he said.

The Rosetta window in the Strasbourg Cathedral. Watercolour by Gareth Brandt. (Supplied image.)


The poetry and paintings will be included in a book to be released by Masthof Press later this year.     


With the 500th anniversary of Anabaptism coming next year, Brandt hopes his artwork will spur people to ask, “What is worth dying for?” and “What is worth living for?”

Gareth Brandt's painting, "A Baptism by Choice," shows the fountain from which the water for the first Anabaptism baptism was taken. (Supplied image.)

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