Half-day tours extend the Assembly experience

Bus trips take guests to points of interest throughout central Pennsylvania
By Matthew Hahn


Photo: Jonathan Charles

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA – All week, 33 different half-day tours have extended the PA 2015 experience beyond the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg to numerous sites of interest and significance throughout central Pennsylvania.

On the busiest days, more than 20 coach buses leave from the Farm Show Complex carrying approximately 700 travellers.

In all, 85 half-day tours will take place with more than 2,500 participants.

Some tours focus on general interests by visiting places such as the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg and hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

But the majority of tours have a distinct Anabaptist focus.

Several show guests first-hand the ongoing work of local Mennonite organizations like Eastern Mennonite Missions, Mennonite Central Committee, and Philhaven (a nonprofit behavioural health care organization) by visiting their facilities.

Tours into colonial Lancaster explore local Anabaptist history. A number of trips connect guests to Amish and Mennonite farmers and explore the ways that Anabaptists engage with the land and care for the earth.

Throughout these tours, conference attendees enjoy the richness of being together and the value of shared experiences. They provide unique opportunities to uncover common bonds and learn from each other.

On a trip to the Amish farm of Annie and John Esh in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, a man from Switzerland and another from Thailand discovered a shared interest in applying microbes to farming.

On a bus ride back to the Farm Show Complex, David Geiser of Switzerland reflected with his seatmate, a U.S. pastor, on a presentation they saw and the difficult choice Anabaptists make to separate from the world.

Local hosts are also excited to share their lives and ministries with Mennonite World Conference.

Pastor Mike Holland led a tour to his predominantly Mexican church, Luz, Alegria, y Esperanza in York Spring, Pennsylvania. “It was so encouraging,” he says, “to have a group visit who is passionately interested in immigration issues and ministry to Hispanic immigrants.”

Matthew is a husband, a father to two young girls, and a pastor at New Life Community Church in Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania.