The Birthplace of Mennonites in America
Mennonites, along with many religious minorities, came to colonial Pennsylvania from the Rhine lands of Europe to participate in William Penn’s “holy experiment” and escape over a century of persecution. In 1683, thirteen Dutch-speaking Mennonite and Quaker families settled in what is now known as Germantown, becoming the first Europeans to colonize that area and the first Germans to settle in the New World.
William Rittenhouse, who built America’s first mill for the manufacture of linen based paper, served as this group’s first minister. The community is the site of the first Mennonite burial ground (1704), the first Mennonite Meetinghouse (1708), and the first Mennonite baptisms and communion in America (1708). In addition, Mennonite theology and conscience contributed to America’s first written petition against slavery, penned in 1688 and sent to the Quaker monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings.
Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust is the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that cares for the historic 1770 Germantown Mennonite Meetinghouse, a significant symbol of the first permanent Mennonite settlement in North America. We interpret and share the history, faith and witness of Mennonites in Germantown from 1683 to the present by preserving the historic Meetinghouse & cemetery; maintaining the nearby buildings and grounds; preparing and implementing tours, exhibits, curricula and public programs; and working with Mennonite and Anabaptist churches, conferences and organizations, the Germantown community, and other partners.
You can find more information about us here, including the rich history and heritage of Mennonites in Germantown, as well as who we are now. If you are ready to see the Meetinghouse for yourself, we have important information to help plan your visit. You can also support our work by donating or volunteering.
Support provided in part by
Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust - 6133 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19144 - (215) 843-0943 - firstname.lastname@example.org