The Rev. Mahlon M. Hess

Photo of The Rev. Mahlon M. Hess

The Rev. Mahlon M. Hess


Rev. Mahlon Murry Hess left this life to be with the Lord on October 12, 2014 after a long and fruitful life spent in service to God as a teacher, pastor, missionary and author, as well as a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and a friend to everyone he met. He was in his 97th year.

Mahlon was born on December 21, 1917 to David Avery Hess and Mary Irene Murry Hess at the Hess homestead on Penn Grant Road in Pequea Township, PA. He studied agriculture at Manor Township High School and graduated from Eastern Mennonite College in Harrisonburg, VA, with a degree in Bible studies. He later did graduate study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.               

In 1940, Mahlon was ordained as a circuit preacher in the Manor District of Lancaster Mennonite Conference. He served from 1942-45 as editor of Eastern Mennonite Mission’s official periodical Missionary Messenger and as a director of the board.  He also taught Bible and missions at Lancaster Mennonite School.

In 1944, he married Mabel E. Eshleman and they served together as missionaries in Tanzania, East Africa, from 1945-65. They had five children, Alice (Maynard) Shirk, Henry (Laura), Carl (Nancy), Dale (Ursula) and Glen (Sylvia) Hess.

From 1965-82, Mahlon served at the mission board in promotion and publicity, including a second stint as editor of the Missionary Messenger.  He wrote Pilgrimage of Faith, a history of the Tanzania Mennonite Church in 1985.  He also served as co-pastor of Masonville Mennonite Church.

Following Mabel’s death in 1988, Mahlon married Mary Harnish, who had served in East Africa as a missionary nurse. She passed away in October 2012.

Mahlon is survived by his five children, 17 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, as well as six sisters, Anna May Habecker, Erma Shelly, Ella (Melvin) Groff, Ruth Chapman, Alta (Elmer) McDonald, and Verna Swartz. Two brothers, Elvin and David, predeceased him.

A viewing will be held at Landis Homes, East Bethany Chapel, 1001 E. Oregon Rd. Lititz, on Saturday, October 18 from 6 – 8 pm. The funeral service will be held at Landis Homes, West Bethany Chapel on Sunday, October 19 at 2 pm with a viewing at 1 pm. Family and friends are invited to attend.  Interment in Masonville Mennonite Cemetery.  Gifts in Mahlon’s memory may be given to EMM, PO Box 458, Salunga, PA 17538.