Brudertal Mennonite Church (Hillsboro, Kansas, USA)
Brudertal Mennonite Church, located approximately six miles (10 km) northeast of Hillsboro, Marion County, Kansas, was organized on 26 December 1874. The congregation joined the Western District Mennonite Conference and the General Conference Mennonites in 1878 and was incorporated under the laws of the state of Kansas in 1887.
The first membership of the congregation was composed entirely of Mennonite immigrants from South Russia and West Prussia in 1873 and subsequent years, largely because of the threat of compulsory military training. The majority of the membership in the 1950s still were descendants of that original stock. The able Wilhelm Ewert, former elder of the church at Obernessau, Poland, was the first elder of the congregation, serving until his death in 1887.
To meet the problems arising out of such a varied background a written constitution to serve as a guide for the congregation was drawn up soon after its organization. This was revised in 1895 and again in 1939, when it was also translated into the English language.
In the beginning the German language was used exclusively in the worship and church life. For many years what is now known as the daily vacation Bible school was conducted in that language. Among the practices observed were close communion, feetwashing, worship services every Sunday and on holidays with two being observed on Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, marriage between Mennonites only, and refusal of military service, swearing of oaths, secret societies, and litigation. However, participation in voting and the holding of public office was never frowned upon.
In the second quarter of the 20th century there was a gradual transition to the exclusive use of the English language both in the homes of the members and in the church. The practices also changed so that communion was open, feetwashing was discontinued, there was no barrier to marriage with members of other Protestant faiths, and there were no second holidays with the exception of Christmas. However, the other practices mentioned above were still largely held in 1950.
While regular midweek prayer meetings and Sunday evening preaching services were never held, the universal week of prayer and a week of meetings for the deepening of the spiritual life were long observed annually. The practice of catechetical instruction for prospective church members and baptism upon confession of faith were always been adhered to. Among the several organizations of the church were the Sunday school, two Christian Endeavor societies, two ladies' missionary societies, a men's brotherhood, a choir, and a Bethel College Fellowship. Finances for local needs were raised by dues on membership and a percentage levy on property and income. Conference and other causes were supported by offerings.
The early growth of the church was rapid, due to the arrival of numerous immigrant families. But with the settling of the land and the formation of neighboring congregations of Mennonites and other Protestant faiths the membership of the church became stationary. In 1952 there are 200 members. The membership was predominantly rural although the number who were following nonagricultural pursuits was increasing.
Elders who served the church were Wilhelm Ewert, Benjamin Unruh, Wilhelm J. Ewert, and Arnold E. Funk. In addition the following served as ministers and evangelists: Jacob Funk, Jacob W. Penner, Abraham Balzer, David Goertz, Paul Mouttet, and John P. Suderman. All of the above-named with the exception of Benjamin Unruh were selected from the membership of the congregation. Mission workers who went out from the church were Mr. and Mrs. P. W. Penner, Elizabeth Goertz, Otto B. Pankratz, and Mr. and Mrs. John P. Suderman.
In May 1966 the Brudertal congregation merged with the Johannestal congregation to form the Trinity Mennonite Church. The Brudertal church building was in an area to be flooded by a dam, necessitating the need to move. Following a careful study, the two congregations decided to merge.
Funk, Ray. "Bruderthal—Seventy-five Years Ago." Mennonite Life (July 1949): 4-6.
Haury, David A. Prairie People: a History of the Western District Conference." Newton, KS: Faith and Life Press, 1981: 324.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 448-449. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Funk, Arnold E and Sam Steiner. "Brudertal Mennonite Church (Hillsboro, Kansas, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 2008. Web. 18 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B78567.html.
APA style: Funk, Arnold E and Sam Steiner. (2008). Brudertal Mennonite Church (Hillsboro, Kansas, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B78567.html.