Opportunity and Conscience: Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania

In 2017 we are using the story of 18th century Mennonite immigration to Pennsylvania to foster civil discourse about immigration and connect with recent immigrant groups, some who came here as Mennonite or chose to affiliate with a Mennonite congregation.

As we use our resources to remember and celebrate the 18th century passages from Germany to PA, we can’t help but notice that immigration is a very hot topic in the national conversation.  We’ve also been told that 18th and 21st century immigrants have many things in common.

Is it possible that through our remembering of Mennonite Immigration in the 1700’s we could inform and encourage civil discussion and learning about our current situation? Could we begin or strengthen relationships with current immigration populations?  Could the modern story even be a lens to the older one.  Could we be a resource for teachers, students, politicians, employers, and pastors?

We have begun that process:  The exhibit is under construction; it includes two simulated docks, a ship’s compartment, and a section on 21st century immigrant stories.  We are working with local leaders to arrange our meetings with recent immigrants from a variety of countries.  We are publishing blogs about the surnames of the 18th century arrivals.  A local educator is working with us to engage children’s groups in the message of the exhibit; churches and schools will be able to join in the experience and the discussion.  On April 28 we will host a limited-seating dinner at the Heritage Center where recent immigrants will share their stories, faith, and food, alongside the exhibit on 18th century immigration.  Church and school groups are scheduling visits to the exhibit.

Your gift will help us engage people of all ages in the 18th century story, while also reaching out to more recent arrivals, and, in the process, foster civil, intelligent discourse on the challenges facing immigrants and the nations that receive them.

Will you make a donation to support the ongoing work of the Heritage Center?

By Mail

Make your check payable to “MHEP” and mail to:
Mennonite Heritage Center
565 Yoder Rd
Harleysville, PA 19438-1020

The Mennonite Heritage Center is a 501(c)3 organization. All donations are fully tax-deductible.

If you have questions about making a donation, or are interested in discussing giving options or estate planning, please contact Steve Diehl, Director of Advancement, at 215-256-3020, ext. 115 or

For information on the Nyce Barn Project or to give toward that project, click here.