Kansas-Nebraska Mennonite Conference (Mennonite Church)
As early as 1871 a few Mennonites had settled in central Kansas. In 1872 several families settled in Marion and (eastern) McPherson counties; they were served by Bishop Henry Yother of Blue Springs, Nebraska. Within the next few years Mennonite settlements were also started in Adams County, Nebraska, and Osborne, Ness, Harvey, and McPherson counties, Kansas. As early as April 1876 a church was built on the land of Bishop Daniel Brundage, known as the Spring Valley Mennonite Church, located near Canton, Kansas.
The first conference met on the forenoon of 14 April 1876 in this church. Besides the bishops Yother and Brundage, two ministers, one deacon, and a delegated layman attended the conference. Singing and scripture reading were in both English and German. Six resolutions were discussed and approved as follows: (1) Members should not seek protection in lightning rods; (2) Members should take no part in worldly insurance; (3) It was considered inconsistent with nonresistant doctrine to go to the polls to vote; (4) It was not considered advisable for brethren to hold the office of Road Overseer; (5) Attendance at worldly amusements is not in accordance with the Word of God; (6) Brethren moving in from abroad should bring a church letter.
It was decided that conference should meet again on the fourth Friday of April 1877 at the same place. Brundage was for 15 or more years very active in encouraging and organizing the Mennonite settlers who came to Kansas. R. J. Heatwole served as secretary of the first conference and as moderator of a number of sessions. From 1879 to 1890 the conference met for both a spring and fall session; from 1892 on there was only an annual session of conference which was usually held in October. Brethren from Nebraska attended the conference for the first time in 1879; that is perhaps the reason why 1879 is given as the beginning year of the Kansas-Nebraska Conference.
The conference of 1907 took action requesting the Mennonite Board of Education to take steps to establish a school "in which Bible work is made a specialty somewhere in the west." As a result of this action Hesston College and Bible School was established in 1908-1909. The conference of 1912 appointed D. S. Weaver and L. O. King to meet with persons from other interested conferences to consider establishing a home for the homeless. Out of this interest the Kansas City Children's Home was established in 1917.
Beginning apparently with only a few churches in central Kansas in 1876 and adding the church in Adams County, Nebraska, the conference continued to grow by adding churches in other states. By 1895 mention is made of the churches in Oklahoma. In 1900 churches in Idaho and Oregon were added. In 1904 Colorado was added, in 1908 the congregation at Plainview, Texas, and in 1911 the congregation at Las Vegas, New Mexico. The conference of 1905, held in Oregon, decided to divide the conference, making the Rocky Mountains the dividing line. The western congregations, three in number, were organized into the Pacific Coast Conference (MC) on 1 November 1906. From the small beginning of five ordained men in 1876, by 1908 there were 7 bishops, 21 ministers, and 8 deacons. By 1909 the reported membership had increased to 949, and in 1920 to 1,204 with 6 bishops, 30 ministers, and 16 deacons.
The redistricting in 1920 of all Mennonite and Amish Mennonite conferences west of Indiana resulted in the reorganization of the Kansas-Nebraska Mennonite, Missouri-Iowa Mennonite, and Western Amish Mennonite conferences into the Missouri-Kansas Mennonite, and Iowa-Nebraska Mennonite conferences, with the Illinois Amish Mennonite congregations assigned to the Illinois Mennonite Conference, and those in Oregon assigned to the Pacific Coast Conference. In 1920 (last session of the Kansas-Nebraska Conference, 2-4 August 1920) the following 18 congregations (with membership) constituted the conference: Kansas-12 congregations with 797 members (Spring Valley at Canton, 72; Pennsylvania at Newton, 102; West Liberty at Windom, 125; Catlin at Peabody, 35; Protection, 62; Hesston, 111; Yoder, 70; Pleasant Valley at Harper, 155; Lamed, ; Mennonite Gospel missions at Kansas City, 48 and Argentine, 17); Colorado-3 congregations with 228 members (La Junta, 109; East Holbrook at La Junta, 111; Limon, 8); Texas-1 congregation at Plainview, 42 members; Oklahoma 1 congregation, Milan Valley at Jet, 37; Nebraska 1 congregation at Roseland, 100.
The conference also had a district mission board, organized in October 1905, composed of the representative elected by each congregation in the conference. When the conferences were reorganized in 1920, the mission board was also reorganized to conform to the new boundaries of the Kansas-Nebraska Conference.
Conference Record Containing the Proceedings of the Kansas-Nebraska Mennonite Conference 1876-1914, 1914.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 149-150. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Diener, Harry A. "Kansas-Nebraska Mennonite Conference (Mennonite Church)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1958. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/K3665.html.
APA style: Diener, Harry A. (1958). Kansas-Nebraska Mennonite Conference (Mennonite Church). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/K3665.html.