Community News

“Julie Longacre: A Retrospective” Exhibit Opening at the Mennonite Heritage Center

The Mennonite Heritage Center, 565 Yoder Road, Harleysville, announces an exhibit of art work by popular artist Julie Longacre from August 19 – November 4, 2017. The exhibit; “Julie Longacre: A Retrospective” celebrates fifty years of her artistic career and showcases her work from her early landscapes through current paintings.  A reception with the artist will take place on Sunday, September 10 from 2:00-5:00 pm.

The exhibit is a unique opportunity to view Julie’s journey as an artist over time. Some of the artwork will be on loan from private collections and has never been exhibited. A number of the paintings are available for purchasing along with a selection of prints and cards.

Julie loved to draw as a child. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and Education and taught third grade and then art until 1981 when she retired to paint full time.

Julie states that: “Some people at the end of a life-long profession have a plaque on the wall showing gratitude for their commitment, or wear an engraved watch to remind them of the time they spent with the firm. I don’t have a plaque nor a watch bearing my name. I have memories of the wonderful people I met along the way. They were the measure of my success. Had they not been attracted to my work, I would not have had the privilege to meet and interact with so many interesting people, listen to their stories and capture their memories on canvas.

We are the artists; we record history. Time doesn’t pass us by; we can make time stand still. Our compositions capture moments in time, express our ideas, our emotions, hopes and dreams for those who follow us.

The Mennonite Heritage Center is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. For directions and information, see or call 215-256-3020.

300th Hershey Anniversary: Celebration of Family Heritage

Friday, September 15, 2017, 8:30 am to 4 pm

Join a Hershey history bus tour with stops at various family farms, churches, and mills. Additionally, tour will visit Native American burial site at Kreider farms where Maryann Robins will speak. Robbins is president of the Circle Legacy Center and a member of the Onondaga tribe. Limited to 110 people, costs $40.

Saturday, September 16, 2017, 9 am to 4 pm

Join reunion festivities at Manor Church. Events will include a capella singign, historical presentations, storytelling, a catered buffet lunch, and fellowship. Local speakers adn special out of town guests will share information abuot hershey connections with Switzerland roots adn Native American relationships. Costs $40 adults, $20 kids 12-17; kids under 12 free.

Visit for more information.

Trouble I’ve Seen: A Jesus-shaped Conversation about Racism and the Church

Thursday, September 14, 7 p.m., Teague Learning Commons: 4th Floor Lancaster Bible College, 901 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA 17601

What if all Christians listened to the stories of those on the racialized margins? How might the church be changed by the trouble we’ve seen? The high-profile killings of young black men and women by white police officers, and the protests and violence that ensued, have convinced many white Christians to reexamine their intuitions when it comes to race and justice. Hart offers concrete practices for churches that seek solidarity with the oppressed and are committed to racial justice.

Dr. Drew Hart, Assistant Professor of Theology at Messiah College: Dr. Hart spent most of his young adult years leading and mentoring youth as a pastor, working for an inner city after-school program, and working closely with Philadelphia based nonprofits. Today, along with teaching theology, Drew is currently passionate about partnering with community groups and churches to facilitate anti-racism training and seminars, as well as delivering lectures, talks, and sermons. Drew writes a blog for the Christian Century called, “Taking Jesus Seriously.” Dr. Hart is the author of the widely acclaimed book: Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism. For more information about Dr. Hart, see:

Event is free, but please register at


Former Steffisburg, Switzerland official Hans Jakob Joder and his son Andreas, a prominent engineer, will be featured at the 2017 National Yoder Reunion (20-23 Sept),  in Shipshewana, IN. Steffisburg, where Joders have lived for more than half a millennium, is the origin point for all American Yoders. The Joders will talk about the “Joder- Steffisburg Connection” using many photographs and illustrations from the town.

The first of the Anabaptist Yoders to come to America, Mennonite “Hans Yoder of Great Swamp”, is thought to have arrived with other members of his congregation in August of 1717. This reunion is therefore a “celebration of 300 years of Anabaptist Yoders in America”, so the Anabaptist branches of the family, and Anabaptist traditions and culture will be a focus of the event. Shipshewana, Indiana is a key tourist area in the heart of northern Indiana’s “Amish Country”.

Another confirmed speaker is Mr. Joe Springer, curator of the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College since 1986. Mr. Springer will give an outline of Anabaptist history, with emphasis on the Swiss Anabaptists and the formation of the Amish. He recently published a two volume Montbéliard Mennonite Church Register, 1750-1958: A Sourcebook for Amish Mennonite History and Genealogy, a work which will certainly become a classic reference on the Amish Mennonites in Alsace. He will detail his findings on the different Yoder family branches who lived there from the late 1600s, many of whom immigrated to the United States in the 19th century.

Local Amish historian Floyd Miller, librarian of the Northern Indiana Amish Library, will tell about the first Amish settlers to northern Indiana, which include members of the Yoder family.

Chris Yoder, Editor of the Yoder Newsletter since 1983, will provide an overview of the various Yoder branches in America, and will also discuss the results of the Yoder DNA study and what over 100 tests have revealed about the family connections.

Past National Reunions since 1983 have all been held in the Eastern part of the country, in: Pleasantville, PA; Newton, NC; or Grantsville, MD. The Shipshewana reunion will be the first one to be held in the Midwest since the founding of the Yoder Newsletter ( .

Activities will center around the Blue Gate Garden Inn and the Shipshewana Event Center. Major local features we plan to take advantage of include: the Menno-Hof Amish/Mennonite history museum, buggy rides, Amish Home Dinners, Amish and Mennonite singers, the 50th Annual Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale, and much more.

For more program and registration details contact Chris Yoder, or call him at 616-212-3443.

Mennonite Immigration exhibit opens at the Mennonite Heritage Center

The Mennonite Heritage Center, 565 Yoder Road, Harleysville, announces a new exhibit: Opportunity & Conscience: Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania that will be on display from April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018.

The exhibit commemorates the three hundredth anniversary of Palatine Germans arriving at the port of Philadelphia. The three ships carrying the Palatines included numerous Mennonite families and was the first large group of Mennonites to immigrate to Pennsylvania.

Opportunity & Conscience highlights the experience of 18th century Mennonite immigrants, their motivations and process of migration, and how they settled in eastern Pennsylvania. Between 1683 and 1775, at least 3,000 Mennonites arrived in Pennsylvania. They were part of a much larger story of European mass migrations to the mid-Atlantic colonies. The main causes for this migration were:

  • Continual religious war in the 17th century
  • Religious and economic oppression and restrictions
  • Burdensome taxation
  • Severe weather events and crop failures
  • The promise of religious toleration, land ownership and economic opportunity.

The exhibit includes a fascinating simulation of a passenger compartment on an 18th century immigrant ship, and a depiction of a sitting room in an early immigrant home, furnished with original artifacts of the 18th century. Enlargements of scenes and images from the period further illustrate the theme.

Another feature of the exhibit is a collection of stories of recent immigrants to the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys, some of whom have connected with local Mennonite churches. Many similarities can be observed between the motivation and experience of today’s immigrants and those of the 18th century from whom many Americans are descended.

Throughout the year, our blog at will feature stories and artifacts related to families descended from 18th century Mennonite immigrants. In addition, programs are planned on themes of immigration. To schedule guided group tours and for information about the exhibit, visit