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2012-04-02 issue:

500 Mennonites and Amish on Christian cruise

by Serena Townsend, intern for The Mennonite

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On Feb. 27, 500 Mennonites, Amish and other Anabaptists from all over North America gathered on a Carnival cruise ship in Miami, Fla.

“I had hoped for 250 people, but we ran out of cabins within about 4 months, so we quickly got more,” said Ryan Bomgardner, who organized the cruise.

Bomgardner, a Christian ventriloquist who has performed on Christian cruises for more than six years, was the MC and “comic relief” on this Sail and Sing Christian Cruise.

Bomgardner performs during the Sail and Sing Christian Cruise in Feburary. Photo provided.

After hearing multiple requests from Mennonites on other cruises, Bomgardner decided to put together “a vacation experience where Mennonites, Amish and other Anabaptists from around the world could get together and fellowship and be refreshed physically and spiritually.”

Participants included “black bumper,” “horse and buggy,” Canadian, Russian and Mexican Mennonites, in addition to Amish, Brethren and other denominations. One woman “had only months to live. She wanted to go on this Christian cruise before she passed away,” said Bomgardner.

A young couple experiencing health issues also went on the cruise, and “they touched some people who then anonymously paid for both their trips” for the 2013 Sail and Sing Christian Cruise.

The five day cruise from Miami to Key West, Fla. and Cozumel, Mexico, included Christian concerts, games, breakout sessions and a marriage seminar. Besides Ryan and Friends, the mostly Mennonite performers included The Stutzman Family, John Schmid, The Coblentz Family, Lucas Hitch, By Grace, and Anthony Ray.

The cruise, said Bomgardner, “went so well, it’s now planned to be an annual thing!”

Next year Sail and Sing will travel from Seattle to Alaska and British Columbia, and in 2014 to the Bahamas.

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