Area parents Pete and Carol Penner were so “completely fed-up” with the “bad attitudes” exhibited by their three young children during dinner time that they decided to inflict upon them the strictest punishment known to Mennonites; they bundled up the kids, threw them into the station-wagon, and made them sit through the entire three-hour long church saengerfest.
“Timmy, he’s our youngest, just refused to eat his peas,” said Mr. Penner, “while Andrea and Pete Jr. are constantly bickering at the table. Finally enough was enough. They had to learn their lesson. So saengerfestit was!”
Saengerfests, long a tradition among Mennonites, feature classical music and hymns sung by choirs and occasionally encourage audience participation in the singing.
“It borders on torture,” admitted Mrs. Penner. “Hearing Tante Martha and her friends singing ‘Are You Washed in the Blood?’ is really not their cup of tea. They’d rather stay at home and play Duck Hunt.”
By the third song the children were getting really restless and wanted to leave, but Mr. Penner gave ‘the look,’ which meant if they didn’t stop squirming and pretend to enjoy all fifteen verses of ‘He Hideth My Soul’ they’d be escorted to the bathroom and punished further.
“I’m certain after sitting through this entire saengerfest, they’ll never act up again,” said Mrs. Penner. “I’m sure glad the church provides us with such an effective tool to discipline our children.”
(Photo credit: by Mennonite Church USA Archives)