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Going for the Bronze
By Vernon Zehr
Revised and reprinted from the DMHS newsletter, vol 2 number 1

A soft woken woman of Korean heritage, but a proud American was excitedly explaining her purpose in going back to play table tennis in the Olympics being held in her homeland.

'I am going for the bronze', she said without apology. It was strange to hear someone admit that she wasn't good enough to be best or even second best. 'Others may brag about being the best. Many may talk with blustery confidence about winning the top prize but me, I'm just aiming for the bronze.'

The Delaware Mennonite Historical Society Newsletter and web site is aiming for the gold. It is our unofficial editorial policy to aim high. In order to do that a number of qualities and talents are needed. We need people who are talented writers, thoughtful editors, excellent proofreaders, graphic artists, layout specialists and willing assistants. We also need to remember the broad spectrum of people we write for, as well as the message of history we wish to convey.

The articles written over the years are testimony to this gold standard. The speakers we have at the DMHS banquets attest to this as well. Your continuing support is needed to 'lay aside any hindrances and to run the race with patience and persistence.' For whether it is the hundred yard dash, a game of ping-pong, or an interesting newsletter, we owe it to ourselves and our constituents to go for the gold.

We are realistic enough to know that aspiring for the gold does not guarantee that it will be reached. Yet, how will we know if we don't try? How will we achieve the best if we don't aim for the best? If Joshua were saying it, he would most likely proclaim, 'You may go for the bronze, or the silver, but as for me and my team - we're going for the gold.'

Although we, whom you have entrusted with producing the newsletter and web site, have the final say, you do have the privilege of writing something for use in the future. You also have the opportunity to offer ideas that will give the impetus to DMHS to sprint to the finish line, not third, not second, but first. We going for the gold.

DMHS - Its Beginning

History of DMHS

Prior to 1993 there had been no formal effort to save any artifacts, buildings or records in the area. But that year a Steering Committee led in the restoration of the Bender House. Seven years later in the year 2000, the time had come to form a more permanent organization. A group visited the Mennonite Heritage Center and Museum in Harleysville, PA for ideas. An enthusiastic group of present and past members of Delaware Mennonite churches met on October 28, 2000 at the new location of the Bender House for clean-up, painting and repairs. They enjoyed food, fellowship, a hymn sing and the election of the first Board of Directors of the fledgling Delaware Mennonite Historical Society.

Conviction and Vision

A variety of men and women of conviction in the past century pioneered the Mennonite presence in the Delaware community. Among them were Will Tressler and Val Bender who married sisters, Barbara and Caroline Gingerich. Lewis J. Swartzentruber also provided leadership in the God-directed destiny of this fledgling community. Christian Schrock was also an early settler. His son Eli, married Lucy, daughter of Val Bender, and it was their children who helped spearhead the preservation of the Bender House and record family history.

Every community has at least one person with a special passion for history. The Delaware Mennonite community has been blessed with that man— Laban L. Swartzentruber, son of Lewis J., who married Nanna, another daughter of Val Bender.

History was a personal joy to “LL” and he recorded it well. Laban and his family commissioned his son-in-law, Harold Huber to write a comprehensive history of the Greenwood community. This work, With Eyes of Faith, was published in 1973.


DMHS, in keeping with its mission statement intends to provide a vibrant and accurate presentation of Mennonites in Delaware. At present this includes:

Mennonite Church

Greenwood 1914

Mennonite Church

Bridgeville 1976

Mennonite Church

Harrington 1953

Mennonite Church

Dover 1955

Mennonite Church

Greenwood 1935

Mennonite Church
Wilmington 1959-1972.

Maranatha Fellowship

The Board of Directors

Paul Bender

Amy Schlabach

Jesse Bontrager

Harvey Mast

Buildings and Grounds
Titus Schlabach

Truman Schrock

Millard Benner
Harold Huber
Vernon Zehr, Jr.