What's in a Name? The Story Behind LeFevre Bakery
Naming something is a weighty responsibility. It gives that which is being named its identity, its forever first impression. As I brainstormed names for my little baking operation, I wanted a name with meaning, but not something cheesy. A name that had depth, layers, without being cumbersome. Something that is personal to me, but interesting to others as well. I tried on a lot of names, but only one succeeded in capturing the essence of what I wanted this project to be about: LeFevre Bakery.
Most people need to ask how its pronounced or how it is spelled and I can only say it in a poor, uneducated attempt at the French accent. But I was willing to deal with these anticipated inconveniences and this is why.
As you may have guessed, Lefever (or the original French spelling, LeFevre) is a family name. The LeFevre family fled religious persecution in 1669 and eventually settled in Pequea Valley in Lancaster County, naming the place "Paradise" which it is still known as today. I love to imagine the scene these folks came upon:
"It was on the evening of a summer day when the Huguenots (French protestants) reached the verge of a hill commanding the view of the valley of the Pequea. It was a woodland scene, a forest inhabited by wild beasts. Scattered along the Pequea among the dark green hazel could be discerned the Indian wigwams, and the smoke coming therefrom." (From an unknown early writer; Source: The Pennsylvania LeFevres)
Isaac LeFevre, who was among these Huguenots who settled in the Pequea Valley, experienced many trials prior to coming upon this scene. He and his community experienced extreme religious persecution at the entangled hands of the French monarchy and Roman Catholic Church that culminated in the murder of his parents and six siblings. In October, 329 years ago, 16 year old Isaac escaped death taking with him his father's Bible. Legend holds that his mother concealed the Bible by baking it into a loaf of bread. Today, the Bible resides at the Lancaster County Historical Society.
I just love this story. I always have. And the fact that bread itself was used as a smuggling tool for the word of God simply makes me smile and is reason alone to name a bakery after Issac LeFevre. But more than that my hope is that this story is a reminder to remain faithful in the small things, to have the courage to make the right decisions and stand by them.
Heritage is an avenue of connection. Connecting to history, to place, to people. It reminds us that we are part of a story that precedes us and will continue beyond us. Absorbing this reality asks us to take seriously the teachings, skills, health, resources, and faith we have inherited and to use these things well. And it calls us to keep in mind what kind of world, community, and faith we are building to pass on. My prayer is that LeFevre Bakery, in its small way, both remembers and builds in a way that honors the legacy of Isaac LeFevre.