Bienenberg Peace Path

At a time when the world seems to be in constant turmoil with violence and war being the primary way nations try to settle conflicts, it seems appropriate to establish examples of other ways to solve differences.  The Theological Seminary Bienenberg (TSB), founded in 1950 as The European Mennonite Bible School by members of the Mennonite churches of France, Germany and Switzerland was also supported by MCC.  And so, when a request came to former PAXers for assistance to establish a PEACE PATH at this location many responded.  A total of 56 former PAX related persons contributed $5,200 that will be used to assist in establishing 18 sites along the Peace Path on the Bienenberg campus, the first of which is a fountain established to commemorate the MCC PAX program, an alternative to participation in the military from 1951 to 1976.  In August, Walter Schmucker, PAX treasurer, presented a check for $5,200 to Seminary Director: Dr Claude Baecher ( and Undergraduate Programme Administrator and Director of School of Discipleship: Heike Geist (
The “PAX Fountain” was completed in July by a small work camp that included one person from Germany, two from France and 4 from Switzerland who worked along with Bienenberg staff members.  Various stations along the Peace Path will eventually represent “Creation”, “The Fall”, “Redemption”, and “Hope”.  The seven progressively higher stones behind the PAX Fountain represent the seven days of creation.  Two other completed stations along the Peace Path include a group of “stumble stones” and a metal sculpture turning swords into plowshares.

We plan to continue with a international working Camp on the Summer 2008 in order to continue as planned our Peace path (29th of June to 5 of July 2008). We have a little committee here at Bienenberg seeking to find good Ideas, joint-ventures with groups, artists who are able to contribute

A description of the 1st station on the Peace Path, “the Pax Fountain” or as Claude calls it, “The Fountain of Creation”, that was constructed “in honor of the people who were involved with the Pax program. The paragraph below regarding Hansruedy Rufenacht gives credit to one of their maintenance workers who designed the “Pax Fountain”.

The name of the maintenance man (also an artist) here at Bienenberg is Hansruedy Rufenacht. He planned the first concept, and the young people (in the summer work camp who constructed the fountain) contributed to the more detailed arrangement.

Workers and students who took part in the first Peace Path work Camp at Bienenberg.
From left to right: Michel Steiger/ from Schänzli Church, Switzerland ; Katharina Hofmann/ from Mennonite Brethren Church Wasservurg/ Germany; Tabea Rediger/ from Schänzli Church, Switzerland; Rahel Saegesser/from Schänzli Church, Switzerland; Hansruedi Ruefenacht, maintenance director and artist, Bienenberg; Switzerland; his wife Irma Ruefenacht who works in the kitchen, Bienenberg; Delphine Kreis/from Mennonite Church Alsace/France; Claude Baecher and Heike Geist, both teachers and academic directors at Bienenberg; Nico Abert, Mennonite Church/France; Jonas Wurster/from from Schänzli Church, Switzerland
We will place a Plaque/Plate that mentions in French, German, English “In thankful remembrance of the work of the MCC Pax Program, an alternative to participation in the military from 1951 to 1976 in USA” (in french it would give something like “Pour l’oeuvre du programme Pax Programm du MCC, comme solution de remplacement à la participation militaire aux USA entre 1951 et 1976, avec reconnaissance”)


Michel Steiger
from Schänzli Church
Katharina Hofmann
from Mennonite Brethren Church  Wasservurg
Tabea Rediger
from Schänzli Church
Rahel Saegesser
from Schänzli Church.
from left to right:Hansruedi Ruefenacht, maintenance director and artist, Bienenberg; Delphine Kreis/from Mennonite Church Alsace;Jonas Wurster/from from Schänzli Church; Heike Geist, teacher at Bienenberg/CH.

The symbolism of the fountain of creation (and also somehow “new-creation”):

  • It expresses thankfulness for God’s magnificent work of Creation
  • The seven pillars symbolize the seven days of creation (we have also placed recently twoBienenberg5 doves, one on the seventh pillar and one on a stone beside, symbolizing at the same time the spirit and peace)
  • The stones are from the Jura region (the region in which Bienenberg) is located . The Idea is that “out of the wilderness comes life”.
  • In the middle is a spring of Water (there is also light on it in the evening). The water moves when there is a little bit of wind. It symbolizes the work of God’s Spirit bringing life where there was no (more) Life before. Here is the symbolism of what the PAX program brought to many places of the earth “In the Name of Christ”… And we are thankful for the credibility of the Gospel that accompanied these deeds in a world of violence, destruction and sin.
  • We have also placed some fossils, that is petrified former Life, in order to show that each generation must open itself to the work of the Spirit of God in order to truly stay alive.
Hansruedi and Jonas are preparing the location where the Pax Fountain will be installed.
Tabea is doing some landscaping around the Pax Fountain



Behind the Pax Fountain: Claude Baecher, teacher at Bienenberg and former Pax Boy Walter Schmucker


Walter Schmucker is presenting the check, contributed by 57 former Pax men toward the construction of the Peace Path and the Pax Fountain
A French artist, Bebienenberg_4586rnard Egly has donated the iron figure; “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.” Isa 2:4


Stumbling stones: to make guests and poeple think about war and peace we give some instructional information about current wars in Europe and around the world.
Bechterdissen reunion, July 2010 at Goshen College

Back row left to right: David Burkholder, Phil Buskirk, Harold Nissley, Lamar Reichert, Walter Schmucker, Willard Van Pelt, David Bertsche

Front row: Dean Hartman, Dale Eash, Marlin Gerber, Paul Stuckey, Marvin Musser, Bill Maust, John Wenger

It is possible to view more information about the Peace Path in a PowerPoint document, originally from the Bienenberg Theological Seminary website.


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