Philadelphia trip to explore culture and Christianity in an urban setting

iconic Philadelphia, Pa., photos

Interested persons age 18 and older are invited to join Hesston College Bible and ministry professor Michele Hershberger and students for a three-week urban culture learning trip to Philadelphia, Pa., May 13 to June 3.

The transcultural trip will focus on the Latino/a-American culture in the city and the church, as well as that of African- and Asian-Americans. Classified as Sociology 123, three hours of college humanities credit is offered for the trip.

“The church is growing and thriving in Philly with so much to teach us,” said Hershberger. “This will be a chance for students and others to have our worldview expanded. Not only will we get to interact with three different cultures, we’ll also see those three cultures work together as the broad definition of ‘church.’”

Participants will spend one to two hours of each weekday in a classroom setting followed by conversation with the three cultural groups. In the afternoons, the group will spend time in the city visiting neighborhoods, museums, churches and other important cultural and historical landmarks. Evenings and weekends will include special field trips, time together building community as a group and worshiping with different congregations on Sundays.

“Philadelphia is a city with a rich history and variety of cultures,” said Hershberger. “We will visit the city’s historic sites as a place where our nation developed, as well as places with historical significance to the Mennonite faith.”

Hershberger spent time in Philadelphia the last two summers teaching Biblical Literature, Hesston College’s cornerstone Bible class, to congregations and Anabaptist leaders in the city. During the weekends of the upcoming trip, she, along with a local church leader, Juan Marrero, will again teach the class to local congregants.

Her past experiences have been transformational for her, and offering the trip is a way to give students and other interested people a similar learning experience and a chance to interpret the complex social context of urban landscapes.

“I’ve had wonderful opportunities of meeting Anabaptist leaders in Philly who are helping me get in touch with ways I too easily make assumptions about culture and race,” said Hershberger. “They’ve challenged me and helped me grow.”

Cost for the trip is $1,000 and includes tuition, travel to and from Philadelphia, admission to different sites the group will visit, and lodging at the Allegheny House, a communal residence in the northeast part of the city owned by Crossroads Community Center. Transportation to and from Philadelphia will be a college van. Those wishing to arrange their own transportation are welcome to do so at their own expense.

See more information online. Those interested in attending the trip can contact Michele Hershberger at A deposit of $150 is due by March 15.