Re-enacting on faith

September 18, 2005|By MARLO BARNHART


Saturday's living history memorial at Mountain View Baptist Church opened on the 143rd anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, which was fought in and around Sharpsburg on Sept. 17, 1862.

"I believe this is our fifth year here at Mountain View Baptist," said Evangelist Alan Farley, whose unique ministry to Civil War re-enactors brings him back every year.

All around the church, re-enactors in period clothing have set up tents and are welcoming visitors wanting to know more about the war and the living conditions in the 1860s.


A Virginian, Farley said he met Mountain View Pastor Bill Clark about seven years ago and began coming to his church for occasional services.

"Last year, we were kind of rained out, so this year is actually the first time for the living history," Farley said.

Farley first began doing chaplain re-enacting in 1984, although his passion for the Civil War goes back to when he was 10 or 11 years old.

"I pushed for Sunday morning services at the re-enactments I was attending," Farley said.

The services themselves are steeped in the history of the era, with Bible verses that often were preached in those times.

"We pioneered that concept and demanded authenticity," Farley said.

At first, Farley was associated with the Stonewall Brigade, but now he belongs to the 1st Regiment of the Provisional Army of the Confederate States. He also is on Gen. Robert E. Lee's staff.

Lee is portrayed by Al Stone of Hinton, W.Va., who resembles the Civil War general. Today at Mountain View Baptist, he will be teaching Sunday school - something Lee himself used to do.

A devout Christian and Episcopalian, Lee was troubled by the part he played in the Civil War, which pitted brother against brother, Farley said.

Farley's family is involved, including his wife, Faith, daughter, Katherine, and son, Ben. They call themselves missionaries to the past.

"I was 2 years old at my first re-enactment," Ben said. "I was carried to that one."

Ben, now 14, said he knows the importance of his father's, and now his, calling.

"It keeps history alive, and that is important," Ben said.

Ben would have stayed to talk more about re-enacting, but he said he had something important he had to do.

"Excuse me, I have to go stand guard for General Lee now," Ben said as he marched off carrying his trusty firearm.

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