First Mennonite Church (Middlebury, Indiana, USA)
As early as 1868 the Brenneman brothers, Daniel of Indiana and Henry of Ohio, preached to a "large, attentive, and very orderly audience" in Middlebury. But no effort was made to locate a Mennonite meetinghouse in the village before 1902. In that year the Mennonites conducted a Sunday school in private homes. On 10 May 1903 the Sunday school was more formally organized and preaching services were begun in Prescott Hall, with D. D. Miller of the Forks Amish Mennonite Church preaching the first sermon. In 1904 the Middlebury congregation was organized with 32 charter members as a sort of outpost of the Forks congregation. A. J. Hostetler, who had been ordained deacon at Forks in 1896 and preacher in 1898, became the first pastor of the congregation, and D. J. Johns served as bishop. Simon S. Yoder, who had been ordained deacon in the Forks congregation in 1903, joined Middlebury a few years later, and in 1907 was ordained preacher. In 1911 the first meetinghouse was built, a brick structure, on Lawrence Street, enlarged in 1950-1951. In 1923 the congregation, along with several others in Indiana, divided over the issue of how strict the discipline of the church ought to be, and how much direction conference ought to give its constituent congregations. In this division Hostetler remained with the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference (MC), together with 110 members, while Yoder and about 100 members withdrew and soon joined the Central Conference as the Warren Street congregation. Hostetler's group continued to grow, and by 1956 had a membership of 400. Wilbur Yoder was pastor from 1936. In 1941 Simon S. Yoder was received back into the fellowship of the Indiana-Michigan Conference (MC) following his return to the Middlebury (Lawrence Street) congregation. Paul M. Miller was chosen bishop by the congregation in 1956.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 681. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Wenger, John C. "First Mennonite Church (Middlebury, Indiana, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/F5663.html.
APA style: Wenger, John C. (1957). First Mennonite Church (Middlebury, Indiana, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/F5663.html.