On Monday, October 23rd , students and staff from NEBC went on their third B.E.N.E.A.T.H. trip (Believers Exploring New England’s Awesome Theological History), this time to Northampton, MA, to visit sites related to the life and ministry of Jonathan Edwards.
The drive began from the Hogue Library, with the main group convoying through the breathtaking fall-colored scenery. Within two hours the group arrived in Northampton, beginning their exploration at the Forbes Library, home to both the Coolidge Presidential Library and an extensive collection of material related to Edwards.
Library archivist Julie Nelson gave the group a short presentation on Edwards’ history in Northampton, and guided the tour through material related to Edwards, some of which Edwards wrote himself.
Following their time in the library, the group made their way through downtown Northampton, splitting up and picking up lunch at the many restaurants the town has to offer.
Next came the tour of the First Church of Northampton, the fifth church building to stand on the site of Jonathan Edwards’ 18th century congregation. The current structure, constructed in 1878 after the fourth church building burned down, stands as a grand example of architecture from the period.
The students and staff spent some time marveling at the high ceilings, expansive stained-glass windows, and towering pipe organ, before settling down to hear a brief history of Edwards and his ministry from the school professors Dr. Michael McDill and Dr. Lee Williams, and from school librarian James Mancuso.
The last stop in Northampton was the Bridge Street Cemetery, home to a memorial honoring Edwards and his life. While Edwards is buried in New Jersey, many of the people interred at the cemetery were touched by Edwards and his ministry in one way or another, and every person buried directly around the monument was an evangelical believer.
This memorial, and the faithful witnesses surrounding it, give a permanent testimony to the life and work of Edwards for the gospel and for the kingdom of God.
Finally, the group ended its touring at the Yankee Candle flagship store in Deerfield, MA. This sprawling building offered far more than just candles, as the near-dozens of rooms also contained an amusement park-like assortment of wares, including Christmas decorations, toys, home amenities, and lawn ornaments.
After an hour or so of wandering and having fun (maybe too much), the group piled back into the vehicles for the drive back to Bennington.
Just as the trips the last two semesters, the third B.E.N.E.A.T.H. trip was a complete success, being both a great learning experience and a chance to have a great time with our school family. The Spring B.E.N.E.A.T.H. trip will be here soon enough, and we all can’t wait.
Leason (Tripper) Stiles
NEBC Student Writer