Croghan Mennonite Church (Croghan, New York, USA)
The Croghan Mennonite Church in Lewis County, New York, had its beginnings in 1833, when the Mennonites of Alsace-Lorraine, looking toward America for new opportunities and to escape compulsory military training, were approached by a land agent who came to them in search of settlers for a large plot of ground in northeastern New York. In 1833 the first three Mennonite families came. They were the preachers Michael Zehr and Rudolph Virkler, and Bishop Joseph Farney. Other settlers followed the first pioneers and by 1836 the first Amish Mennonite congregation of Lewis County was organized. They met in the homes until 1912 when the first meetinghouse was erected at Croghan.
In 1847-1852 a number of the members, including all of the ministers but Michael Zehr, left to form a new group, the Apostolic Christian Church, because they felt that immersion was the correct mode of baptism. This group, fully organized in 1852 by Benedict Wyeneth, who was sent out from Switzerland by Samuel Fröhlich, at the request of the Virkler family, became known as the Evangelical Baptist Church.
In 1909 the settlement had enlarged so much that several families felt it advisable to move to Lowville, about 20 miles (34 km) away from the earlier settlement; a meetinghouse was built near Lowville in 1913. That year the Croghan Mennonite Church joined the Conservative Amish Mennonite Conference that had been organized in 1910. Then the first Sunday school began in 1915. A new church was built in 1934.
The second church schism came in 1941 because several church workers refused to wear the required Amish Mennonite garb. The 68 members who left formed the First Mennonite Church of New Bremen, which in 1954 had 193 members.
In 1939 several families moved to Woodville, about 50 miles (85 km) from Croghan. From 1944 services were held once a month until 1947, when Andrew Gingerich was ordained as pastor to serve this group, later organized as a separate congregation with Gingerich ordained as bishop in 1952. The group had 53 members in 1954.
Lowville and Croghan continued as one congregation with a membership in 1954 of about 600, including the Pine Grove Mission at Glenfield which began in 1949. In 1963, a vacant church building in Naumburg, New York was purchased from The Church of God and this became the place of worship for a new fellowship. This group was made up of members from the larger congregations of Lowville and Croghan.
The three groups functioned as one congregation with several buildings. In 1968, separate leadership was developed in the three churches, and they officially divided into separate congregations.
Christian Nafziger (1861-1953) was, ordained to the ministry in 1896 and long served as bishop. Lloyd Boshart (1913-?), ordained bishop in 1945, was in charge of the congregation in 1955, assisted by preachers Elias Zehr, Richard Zehr, and Leon Martin.
In 2011 the leading minister was Chad Atwood and the congregation's membership was 178.
Anabaptist (Mennonite) Directory 2011. Harrisonburg, VA: The Sword and Trumpet, 2011: 48.
Lowville Mennonite Church. "Lowville Mennonite Church- About LMC." Web. 17 February 2007. <http://www.lowville.ny.us.mennonite.net/about.html>.
Mailing Address: PO Box 68, Croghan NY 13327-0068
Location: 7048 Kirschnerville Road, Croghan, NY
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 409. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Schrag, Gordon and Richard D. Thiessen. "Croghan Mennonite Church (Croghan, New York, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2012. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/L736.html.
APA style: Schrag, Gordon and Richard D. Thiessen. (April 2012). Croghan Mennonite Church (Croghan, New York, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/L736.html.