Clarence Center-Akron Mennonite Church (Akron, New York, USA)
The Clarence Center Mennonite Church was member of the Mennonite Conference of Ontario until 1973, but was located near Clarence Center, New York. In 1824 a colony of Mennonites from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, among them the Leibs, Lehmans, Sherers, and Martins, settled around Clarence Center. It is reported that Johannes Roth of Lancaster County settled in Erie County south of Clarence Center early in the latter half of the 18th century. Their first minister was Jacob Lapp, who, according to Hartzler-Kauffman records, came in 1828. John Martin was the first deacon (Cassel, 169). In 1831 Jacob Krehbiel, a Mennonite minister, moved in from Germany. He became bishop in 1839. His son Frederick and Abraham Leib were ordained deacons with the growth of the congregation. They soon built a stone church (no longer standing) a few miles west of Clarence Center, known as Good's Church. The congregation prospered both by immigration and by accessions.
John Lapp (1798-1878) became minister in 1828 and bishop about ten years later. Peter Lehman and Abram Lapp were also ordained ministers. Jacob Krehbiel, Jr., became minister in 1872 but withdrew about 1875, and affiliated with the General Conference Mennonites. Jacob Hahn, father of Sarah Lapp, missionary to India, became minister in 1866. The Herald of Truth in 1872 reported German Sunday school and services held here every Sunday. John Strickler, of the Miller Church near Clarence, later identified himself with this flock (MC). When John Lapp became inactive the church dwindled and with the loss of the Krehbiel followers became very weak. The Ontario Conference supplied the ministers for a number of years until about 1920, when new families moving in from various states gave rise to a revived congregation in a more easterly location. The Good cemetery is still the burying ground for the Clarence Center congregation.
Services were held in a school east of Lockport and in a small church near Gasport until a large church was found, known as Sandhill Mennonite Church. This church was used for more than ten years, and then a church was built a few miles north of Clarence. Membership in those years grew to more than 300. During the 1940s some families again moved to other settlements. The church member ship in 1949 was given as 177. The ministers from the 1940s to 1973 included Irvin E. Burkhart, Chris L. Ressler, Jacob W. Birky, D. D. Kauffman, D. Edward Diener, J. B. Martin and Howard S. Bauman. Bishops for the congregation during this era included S. F. Coffman, Moses H. Roth, Moses H. Shantz, Burton B. Weber and A. Lewis Fretz.
In 1973 the Clarence Center congregation left the Mennonite Conference of Ontario to join the newly formed New York Mennonite Fellowship. The change was marked by a special ceremony at the Mennonite Conference of Ontario's 1973 annual conference. The congregation in 2011 was known as the Clarence Center-Akron Mennonite Church.
Burkholder, Lewis J. A. Brief History of Mennonites in Ontario. Kitchener, ON: Mennonite Conference of Ontario, 1935.
Cassel, Daniel Kolb. History of the Mennonites; Historically and Biographically Arranged from the Time of the Reformation; More Particularly from the Time of Their Emigration to America. Containing Sketches of the Oldest Meeting Houses and Prominent Ministers. Also, Their Confession of Faith, Adopted at Dortrecht, in 1632. Philadelphia: D.K. Cassel, 1888. Available in full electronic text at
Address: 11500 Clarence Center Road, Akron, NY 14001
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 618-619. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Fretz, Joseph C and Sam Steiner. "Clarence Center-Akron Mennonite Church (Akron, New York, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2011. Web. 19 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/C54.html.
APA style: Fretz, Joseph C and Sam Steiner. (October 2011). Clarence Center-Akron Mennonite Church (Akron, New York, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/C54.html.