Tag Archives: Mary Jane Hershey

Where Hope Meets History

By Kendra Rittenhouse, Salford

A 300 year anniversary meant more than one day of celebration for Salford Mennonite Church. Beginning Sunday, September 10th and culminating with a feast of events the following weekend, it was a look to the past that has shaped the present as the congregation heads with hope to the future.

Brian McLaren

Sunday, September 10, Salford began celebrating 300 years of history and hope with guest speaker and author Brian McLaren who among other things gave a presentation of his most recent book, “The Great Spiritual Migration.” McLaren urges Christians to follow closely the words and teachings of Jesus rather than give priority to doctrine and theology. Links to his sermon and afternoon presentation can be found at http://brianmclaren.net/heres-what-i-shared-in-pennsylvania/. The service also included a song written by Lynelle Bush.

The following weekend of celebration began on Friday, September 15 with a play, “These Are My People,” written by Ted Swartz of Ted & Company in collaboration with Brent Anders and was performed by a cast of Salford members along with Ted. Presented again on Saturday evening, it told the story of Salford including why people come, why they leave, the struggle of change from the past to the present day, and the sacredness of gathering together.

Saturday, September 16, a community day was held in the grove next to the school house which included food, fun, and historical tours. A large tent shielded church members and visitors from the warm sun and provided a place to gather, eat together, and enjoy music provided by groups that included Salford members. Bus tours of local Mennonite history, led by John Ruth, included the Dielman Kolb House, Lower Skippack Mennonite Church, and Upper Skippack Mennonite Church, as well as sights throughout Skippack, Upper Salford, and Lower Salford Townships. Joel Alderfer of the Mennonite Historians gave cemetery tours telling of past members who shaped Salford’s history.

Saturday’s activities also included volleyball in the grove and children’s games from a century ago. Children also painted rocks for Color Harleysville, cheerful rocks to be hidden and found throughout the Harleysville area. A photo booth made for fun reminders of the day.

Sunday morning, September 17, began with worship and ended with a catered meal for members and visitors. The sermon on Matthew 14, given by pastor Joe Hackman, focused on having the courage to ‘get out of the boat’ when Jesus calls.  Examples of courage were former pastor Mim Book in following her call in a time when women’s ministry gifts were not recognized, and of MJ Sharp who lost his life working for peace in the Congo earlier this year.

The service also included art and musical offerings. A vocal ensemble and the choir each sang songs of rootedness and vision. As well, a commissioned fraktur by Roma Ruth was presented by Mary Jane Hershey and Roma Ruth and is hanging in the church lobby.

Attending the morning service were former pastors Jim Lapp, Ben Wideman, Mim Book, Maribeth Longacre Benner, Jim Longacre, Loren Swartzendruber, Michael King, Willis Miller, John Ruth, and John Sharp. A panel discussion by the former pastors was held during the second hour in which they reflected on the eras they served at Salford.

In a blessing to the congregation former pastors, Jim Longacre and John Sharp urged the congregation to turn away from Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, to turn back to the teachings of Jesus. John Ruth, in agreement, also reminded us to return to the early Anabaptist teachings and to focus on relationship, which is core to salvation.

It is said that the growth of a plant is proportional to its roots. Salford’s deep and expansive roots are testimony to a rich and fertile relationship with God. Remembering the past, the changes that have taken place, and that God is always faithful and will be faithful in the changes to come made for spirits ready to grow and a celebration full of hope.

The Risk of Asking & Answering

by Maria Hosler Byler, Associate Pastor for Youth and Family Faith Formation

Sometimes it takes great courage to ask a question, especially if you are not sure that you can fulfill the answer. Mary Jane Hershey of Salford Mennonite Church had the courage to ask Katie Gard of the Oxford Circle Christian Community Development Association (OCCCDA) what they needed and Katie had the courage to answer, neither of them knowing what, if anything, might come of it.

Salford Mennonite Church and Advent Lutheran Church share a garden on Salford’s property that, “exists to nurture relationships with one another and with God, cultivating a piece of God’s creation, and growing good food for those who need it most.”  The produce from the garden is donated to individuals in need throughout the community, including to various non-profits. Oxford Circle Christian Community Development Association (OCCCDA) of Philadelphia is one of those non-profits.

At the annual fundraising dinner held at Salford to garner funds for seeds and supplies, Mary Jane Hershey encountered Katie Gard and asked that courageous question: what do you at OCCCDA need? She didn’t know what the response would be, or what it would cost her and her community. She didn’t know if she’d be able to fulfill whatever the answer was. Yet she stepped out and asked.

Katie took a risk, too, as she answered, asking for a visit to the Salford garden for their summer camp. The camp receives produce from the garden and Katie believed the kids would benefit from seeing where the produce comes from, and from being in the country. Katie didn’t know how it might happen. She didn’t know what it might require from Salford or Oxford Circle, but she gave her answer.

Mikaylah Price, Adele Shoup, Aubrey Andrews, and Ila Hackman (left to right) show off the carrots they harvested in the Salford Advent community garden.

That was not the end of the small acts of courage. Through collaboration and coordination, plans came together. When the buses pulled up on July 13, several Salford kids and parents were waiting hesitantly as 72 kids and 18 adults from the summer camp got organized. The summer camp kids didn’t quite know what to expect either, but their capable staff lined them up and we split up into our stations.

Between the garden tour, harvesting carrots, introducing the Oxford Circle campers to Gaga ball, and playing water games, kids from Salford and Northeast Philadelphia started to feel at home together. Teammates cheered each other on and helped each other out. Campers harvested carrots to take home. The next week, when the produce from the garden came to OCCCDA, they knew where it was from!

Asking questions and offering answers both take risk — the vulnerability of submitting one’s idea to the direction of another.  After that first risky question and answer, the questions and answers kept happening: How do we make sure the food we serve is halal? Is it ok to shorten this activity? What games do you like to play at your house? No, they shouldn’t have a second popsicle. Do you want to play with us?

The summer camp kids and adults were taking a risk, asking a question, just by getting on the buses and coming to this predominantly white country church to enjoy our space. Salford families and volunteers needed to respond by accepting the schedule and needs of the well-functioning system that is Oxford Circle Summer Camp. I saw our Salford kids offering welcome in the garden, a familiar space to them, to kids who were seeing it for the first time. I saw them experiencing being welcomed and invited into the games by strangers, needing to depend on the welcome of the summer camp kids. Questions were asked, answers were given, God moved, and the results were abundantly far more than we could have asked or imagined.

Photo: Mikaylah Price, Adele Shoup, Aubrey Andrews, and Ila Hackman (left to right) show off the carrots they harvested in the Salford Advent community garden.


Bible makes 50-year, 7000-mile roundtrip

by Mennonite Heritage Center staff

In 1953, at the end of the Korean War, Mennonites opened a vocational school in Kyungsan, South Korea to educate homeless orphaned boys. Mennonites in the United States were asked to “adopt” a boy and provide financial and emotional support for the adoptee.

Willis and Mary Lederach, who attended Salford Mennonite Church (Harleysville, Pa) decided to support Kim Jong Sub, now known as Byung Dong Kim. For more than a decade, Mary faithfully wrote to Kim Jong Sub, and he considered her his American mother.

Dae Wee Kim holds the Greek-English New Testament that returned from South Korea to Harleysville last year.
Dae Wee Kim holds the Greek-English New Testament that returned from South Korea to Harleysville last year.  With him are MHEP’s Joel Alderfer and Mary Lederach’s daughter Mary Jane Hershey.

After Kim Jong Sub graduated from the vocational school, he considered enrolling in a seminary. In 1964, Willis and Mary sent him a Greek New Testament with an English translation. Mary inscribed the first page of the New Testament with their names and the date and added, “With much love to our Jong Sub from your American parents.”

Kim did not become a seminarian, but went on to have a successful career in business.

For Koreans, it’s important to know your familial heritage. During Kim’s young adult life, he attempted to find his birth family, and eventually he changed his name to Byung Dong Kim, believing that name more clearly reflected his authentic self.

Mary Lederach continued to write to Kim after he left the vocational school, but eventually they lost contact. In 1986, during a vacation to the United States, Kim made inquiries about the Lederachs and was put in touch with their oldest son, Paul, who was living in Scottdale, Pennsylvania. It was a great disappointment to Kim and to the Lederachs that Mary and Willis had died prior to his visit.

Since then, Byung Dong Kim and his wife have visited the Lederach family numerous times. Their son, Dae Wee Kim, graduated from Goshen College and then spent two years in Lansdale, Pennsylvania working for accounting firm Baum, Smith & Clemens. Dae Wee received an MBA at Notre Dame University and now lives in Northern New Jersey, where he is a CPA. He is married, and has two children. He and his family are faithful members of a Korean church in their community.

After 50 years, the Greek-English New Testament that Mary and Willis sent Kim Jong Sub came back to Harleysville: In September, Dae Wee brought this precious book to the Mennonite Heritage Center to be added to the Mary Mensch Lederach and Willis Kulp Lederach collection in the MHC archives. An inscription written to Mary and Willis’s daughter, Mary Jane Lederach Hershey, says, “To Sister Jane, I have Dae Wee bring this precious Book to you. Can be part of what you are collecting for Mother Mary Lederach, July 2, 2013, Byung Dong Kim (Kim Jong Sub) Republic of Korea.”

Two countries miles apart, connected by a book whose theme of loving one’s neighbor has forever entwined two extended families in profoundly unspeakable ways: A story of faithfulness, love and grace.

2012 Peace Camps: Love on a Local Scale, part 1

by Samantha Lioi, Minister of Peace and Justice

What does Anabaptist witness and ministry look like up-close?  When summer comes, for some folks it looks like teaching a second-grader to explore ways he can care for the earth, or giving a 10-year-old creative ways to deal with conflicts she’ll face at school.  Congregations from Allentown to Philadelphia have created summer Peace Camps as practical places to live Christ’s transforming love among their neighbors.  In some ways, the camps function similarly to traditional Vacation Bible Schools, but with content deeply relevant to the conflicts and crises kids face in our increasingly fragmented culture.  Peace Camps can offer space for children to claim their identity as God’s children, to believe they can be active in stirring up hope in their part of the world.

Salford Peace CampIn the next few weeks, Samantha Lioi, Minister of Peace and Justice for Franconia and Eastern District Conferences, will take a look at three conference Peace Camps that are giving space to putting here-and-now flesh and bone on our Anabaptist understandings of Christian faith, beginning with Salford Mennonite Church in Harleysville, Pa., then moving on to Philadelphia Praise Center in South Philly, and finishing with Samantha’s own experience helping to lead the Peace Camp for Ripple Allentown.

Since 2007, Meredith Ehst of Salford has brought her experience in public education to her leadership of the congregation’s summer Peace Camp, a week-long evening program serving children from Kindergarten through fifth grade.  This year they welcomed 75 children, their largest camp yet, drawing 46 kids from the area who are not directly connected with the congregation.

The camp was born in 2006 after the community’s Vacation Bible School had lost energy.  Mary Jane Hershey, a Salford elder in the realm of peacemaking and justice-building, saw an advertisement for a Peace Camp run by Quakers in nearby Gwynedd.  She asked if she could come and observe, and left with copies from their notebooks and eagerness to try it back home.

Salford Peace Camp
Photo provided.

Each year Salford chooses a theme verse and age-appropriate learning goals for the week.  The youngest learn that they are loved by God and created with unique gifts.  They learn to accept the differences between themselves and others and celebrate what each person brings through self-portraits.

Second and third-graders are old enough to learn about peace with the earth, touring and working in Salford’s community garden.  They create original “ads” that they post on paper grocery bags to encourage the public to make ecologically responsible choices.  This portion of the camp is grounded in what the kids already know when they arrive, and they have the chance to build on this and take ownership for making a difference in their community.  Meredith laughed remembering that each year, inevitably, this group decides they can go without electric lights, and they spend the rest of the week in a slightly darker classroom!

The oldest children engage a curriculum called Talk It Out, gaining skills for reconciling conflict without resorting to physical force.  Everyone spends some time in the classroom, some playing cooperative games, and some sitting down to eat together.

In fact, sitting around tables for dinner is one of the most significant parts of the Peace Camp, says Pastor Joe Hackman, as it provides a practice and space for community that is unusual for some of the children.  This ministry is giving birth to possibilities for new forms of witness; this year included an adult portion of Peace Camp and a barbeque for the parents on Friday as part of their closing celebration.

Salford Peace Camp
Photo provided.

Peace Camp has become a way to spread practical knowledge and skills for peacemaking to people around them – ministering from a place of knowing their neighbor’s needs as well as their own children’s needs.  “We always have children with no fixed address,” says Mary Jane.  “We send out mailings and some come back.”  They are glad to know they are connecting with kids who experience frequent transitions, which can foster feelings of insecurity and deepen the need for an identity as God’s beloved child—and for skills to handle differences and disagreements.

Next week, Philadelphia Praise Center →