Oak Grove Mennonite Church (Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio, USA)
Oak Grove Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church and General Conference Mennonite), located near Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio, is probably the oldest Mennonite congregation of Amish background in the state. The first settlers came to the area about 1817 from Somerset and Mifflin counties, PA, and organized a congregation in 1818, meeting in homes for worship. Other families of Swiss Mennonite background came directly from Switzerland and Alsace-Lorraine. Early bishops were David Zook, Christian Schantz, Jacob Yoder, assisted by ministers Christian Brandt, Christian Naftzinger, Peter Blough, Solomon Zook, and deacons Jacob King and Jacob Troyer.
The first meetinghouse (frame) was built in 1862, and a second (Pleasant Hill) in 1881 to accommodate members in the northern part of the district. In 1905 the Oak Grove meetinghouse was replaced by the large frame structure used by the present congregation.
The early congregation was a member of the Amish General Conference and Eastern Amish Mennonite Conference, and until 1947 of the Ohio and Eastern Amish Mennonite Conference. Since 1947 Pleasant Hill has been a separate congregation, still under the Ohio and Eastern Mennonite Conference, while Oak Grove continued independent until 1970 when it became an early dually affiliated congregation in the Ohio and Eastern Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church and the Central District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church. Under able and progressive leadership the varied background of the Oak Grove congregation led to a fused polity, highly active congregational interest and participation in higher education, missions, and the broader program of the church at large. Though a rural church, less than half the members (numbering 400 in January 1958) were actively employed in agriculture. The bishop was Jacob S. Gerig, with Virgil M. Gerig minister with full pastoral authority in the local congregation.
Other leaders serving earlier in addition to the above were John K. Yoder and Benjamin Gerig (bishops), C. K. Yoder, Jonathan Smucker, Christian Kureth (Conrad), John Smiley, Isaac Miller, D. Z. Yoder, S. K. Plank, David Hostetler, Stephen Miller, C. Z. Yoder, Peter Conrad, Albert Hartzler, P. R. Lantz, Peter Baumgartner, J. N. Smucker, Wm. G. Detweiler, Elmer Meyer (ministers and deacons).
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967, Vol. 3: 282.
Lehman, James O. Creative Congregationalism: the History of the Oak Grove Mennonite Church in Wayne County, Ohio. Smithville, OH: The Church, 1978.
Umble, John S. Ohio Mennonite Sunday Schools. Goshen, IN: Mennonite Historical Society, 1941: 209-231.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1-2. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Gerig, Virgil M. "Oak Grove Mennonite Church (Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1958. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O3325.html.
APA style: Gerig, Virgil M. (1958). Oak Grove Mennonite Church (Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O3325.html.