This is a story of 50 years of love and compassion, resulting in a young Korean family having rich American Mennonite roots. These roots are so deep and meaningful, that their giving has inspired others to put the Heritage Center on a solid financial foundation.
Byung Dong Kim was born in Korea in 1942, and orphaned 8 years later.
In 1953, Byung Dong took advantage of an opportunity to study at a vocational school opened by the Mennonite Central Committee. The school operated on a model of matching students with Mennonite sponsors. Mary Mensch Lederach, a member of Salford Mennonite Church, took on Byung Dong. In addition to financial support, Mary corresponded faithfully with Byung Dong, providing spiritual and emotional support.
In 1964, Mary and husband Willis mailed him a book–The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament with Lexicon and Synonyms by George Ricker Berry, Ph.D. Like many parents, Mary had aspirations for Byung Dong—to become a pastor. Like many children, Byung Dong had other ideas, and chose a career in business. He lost touch with the Lederachs, and launched a successful career in international construction.
Eventually, Byung Dong sought out his American family—including his “sister”—Mary Jane Lederach Hershey–a founding member and Board Member Emerita of the Heritage Center. Though Willis and Mary had passed, Byung Dong renewed the relationship with his American Mennonite family.
After graduating from Goshen College in 2002 (Byung Dong recommended this based on his vocational school contacts) Daewee phoned his “aunt” in Salford—Mary Jane Lederach Hershey. She arranged an interview with Dick Baum, and Daewee came to with Baum, Smith, and Clemens, an accounting firm in Lansdale.
He is currently a Senior Director in the national accounting firm KPMG in New Jersey.
Fifty years after receiving The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament with Lexicon and Synonyms by George Ricker Berry, Ph.D. Byung Dong sent the book via Daewee for presentation to the Mennonite Heritage Center.
In October 2017 Byung Dong, Dawee, and their families visited us at the Center. At the request of their sister and aunt, Mary Jane, Byung Dong and Daewee agreed to a $100,000 gift to the endowment!
“We are first generation immigrants,” says Daewee. “But because of our spiritual connections through the MCC, the Lederachs, and the Hershey’s, my children have an American Mennonite heritage that I want them to know about. We plan to keep that relationship alive with the Mennonites in Salford and Harleysville, and will continue to support the work of the Mennonite Heritage Center.”
The story doesn’t end there. With this gift as a catalyst, Mary Jane has secured three more $100,000 gifts, and one $50,000 gift to the endowment.
This will double our current endowment, providing greater security and promise as we seek to live into our vision of being a vibrant center of learning, rooted in the Anabaptist/Mennonite faith.
This is exciting for us. However, we still depend on annual gifts from people like you for 37% of our revenue. This year, our goal is to raise $150,000. Your gift allows us to maintain a professional staff, inviting spaces, and engaging programs for seekers of knowledge and inspiration. It allows us to “welcome home” visitors from near and far.
Would you consider a generous gift to the annual fund this year?
Make your check payable to “MHEP” and mail to:
Mennonite Heritage Center
565 Yoder Rd
Harleysville, PA 19438-1020
If you have questions about making a donation, or are interested in discussing giving options or estate planning, please contact Steve Diehl, Executive Director, at 215-256-3020, ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org