Northern District (Virginia Mennonite Conference, Mennonite Church USA)
The Northern District is one of the three districts of the Virginia Mennonite Conference (Mennonite Church USA). The entire church in the Shenandoah Valley was originally under one leadership. Around 1840 the territory was divided into three districts. What was north of the highway leading from West Gay Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia, through Park View to Mt. Clinton, Virginia, to a point about one and one-half miles (two km) west of the Eastern Mennonite College (now Eastern Mennonite University), then with the Hopkins Mill road to Singers Glen, Virginia, then by an imaginary line somewhat north by west indefinitely, was known as the Lower District (because the valley drains in that direction). By conference action the name was changed in 1942 to its present form.
Among the early family names in this vicinity were Funk, Brunk, Trissel, Showalter, Shank, Rhodes (then Roth), Brenneman, Good, Acker, Geil, Driver, Huber (now Hoover), Wenger, Heatwole, and Kauffman (now Coffman), who settled here in 1773-1790 and perhaps still later. Early dates are difficult to verify because of the burning of county records during the Civil War.
The original and oldest congregation in the district is Trissels (1822), with 125 members, followed by Zion (1885) with 138, Lindale (1895) with 183, and Bethel (1915) with 108. Seven additional organized congregations with 466 members and eleven rural missions with 219 members, a total of 675, have been established in the mountains immediately to the west, mostly in West Virginia, the oldest of these outposts going back to 1868, the newest established in 1955. The total baptized membership in the district in 1956 was 1,229, about one-fourth of the total Virginia Conference membership.
Originally there was only one bishop in charge of the district. Lewis Shank (d. 1942), bishop in charge in 1901-1938, was followed by J. L. Stauffer (ord. 1938), who was assisted after 1945 by Bishop Timothy Showalter and after 1954 by Bishop J. Ward Shank.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 923. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Showalter, Timothy. "Northern District (Virginia Mennonite Conference, Mennonite Church USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/N67817.html.
APA style: Showalter, Timothy. (1957). Northern District (Virginia Mennonite Conference, Mennonite Church USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/N67817.html.