Nationwide faith in Lansing

Rhodes, left, and Martin study in preparation for end-of-term exams in the school’s library. — Kevin Coss/kevin.coss@austindailyherald.com

Maranatha Bible School a place for studies, religion

Rachel Martin thought back to the time she first heard about Maranatha Bible School.

“My parents went here,” she said after a moment. She also heard about it through her church in Virginia, where she’s from. Sitting beside her, Jody Rhodes nodded. She had heard about it through her family too, and it had come up in conversation back home in Ohio.

Maranatha Bible School, located in Lansing, Minn., is the experience of a lifetime, the women said. Each is finishing up a six-week term at the Mennonite school, which focuses on Bible training.

“It’s a good place for teenagers to come,” Jody said. “You set your focus on things other than you

Maranatha Bible School students Jody Rhodes, left, and Rachel Martin play pingpong during free time after classes. — Kevin Coss.kevin.coss@austindailyherald.com

would at home.”

Maranatha starts in January and runs 12 weeks. It begins with two shorter terms, then follows with a longer third term of six weeks. The students are mostly from outside Minnesota, said Principal Dan Schrock. Many come from Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, and a few even come from Ontario. The same goes for instructors, who generally come in to teach once, then are replaced by different instructors the next time.

“The goal is to help our young people,” Schrock said. “To equip them to face life.” The average student is 19, Schrock said. No one is younger than 18.

Enrollment for the six-week term is $900, and the school can accommodate up to 42 students at a time. The fee includes instruction, meals and lodging. The school enrolls up to 42 students, the maximum capacity, for its third term.

The Bible school, formerly an elementary school, opened in 1978, Schrock said.

Students at the school are required to take three classes, though there are nine to choose from. The weekday schedule includes meals, a chapel service and several class periods, which focus on biblical instruction and lets out around 3:30 p.m.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Martin said of her classes. “I’ve been stretched.”

They live in dormitories outside the school, eat food served in the school’s kitchen and study in the library. At the end of this term, students receive a yearbook and certificates of completion. It’s sort of like a report card, Schrock said.

 

All students participate in choir, where they practice hymns or Gospel singing, entirely a capella. They do technical warm-ups also, and small groups occasionally go to local community centers on weekends to perform.

Students spend their free time in lounge or the gym. Popular activities include basketball, pingpong and volleyball, which both Martin and Rhodes play.

On the weekends, students sometimes take day trips. Last weekend, a group went to Minneapolis to go to the Mall of America and the zoo, Martin said.

The students are busy finishing up classes this week. The final part of their experience at Maranatha is a two-week choir tour. The trip will have them performing on a tight schedule in seven states, then at several locations in Belize. Neither Martin nor Rhodes have been to the country, but they say they’re excited to visit.

Martin and Rhodes both plan to recommend Maranatha to their friends.

“It’s a very good environment, for people who want to live right and do what’s right,” Rhodes said. She plans to keep in touch with the people she met at Maranatha. “It’s a good place to lay a foundation for your life.”

Before leaving on the tour, the choir will perform at First United Methodist Church in Austin. The performance takes place Friday at 7:15 p.m., and is open to the public. There is no entry charge.

 

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