A contingent of Mennonites from Mexico migrated to western and northern Belize (formerly British Honduras) in 1958 to escape a government imposed social security system, to relieve the land hunger which had developed with the Mexican Mennonite colonies, and to alleviate internal dissensions amongst conservative and progressive modes of Mennonite religious thought. They formed three colonies: Blue Creek, Shipyard, and Spanish Lookout. In 1966, ten Mennonite families established a new colony (Pilgrimage Valley), to escape the increasing secularism which had enveloped their communities. Three years later, the most orthodox members of the Spanish lookout and Pilgrimage Valley colonies founded a new community along Barton Creek in the foothills of the Mayan Mountains of western Belize. They were dissatisfied with the emerging liberal trends of the Spanish Lookout and Pilgrimage Valley colonies and sought to return to the conservative, traditional methods of farming in isolation. The success in agricultural development of these larger colonies was the overriding impetus for a factional split as material success leads to increasing acceptance of modernization, spiritual apathy and a compromise in traditional Mennonite values. Mennonite migrations have followed this same pattern for centuries and will undoubtedly continue. .
The conservative, traditional Mennonite agriculture is appropriate for contemporary study because in almost every case, when a conservative group seeks new land, it looks for uninhabited (or sparsely habited) isolated land, normally of questionable agricultural quality, and proceeds to transform it into a fertile refuge upon which the community builds a stable spiritual life. The financial inputs into the agricultural system are kept at a minimum focusing upon long-term sustainability. The Belizean community at large is economically oriented and even some Mennonites have adjusted their religious ideals in the interest of commercial ventures.