Ohio Mennonite Christian Workers Conference
Ohio Mennonite Christian Workers Conference, successor to the Ohio Sunday School Conference (known also for a number of years as the Ohio Sunday School and Young People's Bible Meeting Conference), served both Mennonites and Amish Mennonites as an outlet for united Sunday school, missionary, and young people's Christian activities, before and after the merger of the Ohio Mennonite and Eastern Amish Mennonite conferences (forming what eventually became known as the Ohio and Eastern Mennonite Conference). Its first meeting was held at the Salem Mennonite Church near Wooster, Ohio, in 1895. It was probably the first conference to meet in a large tent, because of the large attendance, and owned a tent for use in its annual meetings.
The conference was from the beginning an excellent combination of lay and ministerial interest and activity and was autonomous in organization. Early efforts of some leaders of the Indiana Mennonite and Ohio Mennonite conferences to supervise and control the activities of the Ohio Sunday School Conference were ineffective for several reasons: (1) some of the most active early Sunday-school workers in the state were Amish Mennonites, such as David Plank, D. S. Yoder, S. E. Allgyer, C. Z. Yoder, Jerome Smucker, S. H. Miller, and younger men, e.g., I. W. Royer, C. K. Hostetler, and E. J. Zook; (2) on one occasion when the Sunday School Conference was held in a Mennonite church and directed by the Ohio Mennonite Conference attendance was small and interest at a low ebb; (3) on a subsequent occasion after the Ohio Mennonite Conference had prescribed certain limits to the work of the Sunday School Conference, Sunday-school leaders in the state announced that the next conference was to be held at the Amish Mennonite Church in Logan County (Walnut Creek) and appointed David Plank corresponding secretary to arrange for the conference. This conference session was attended by so large a number of Sunday-school workers from both branches of the church and such a fine spirit of fellowship and cooperation was in evidence that the concept of an autonomous Sunday-school conference organization received added impetus. The constitution adopted in 1914 provided for an executive secretary, an executive committee, and a delegate body. The delegate body consists of all ordained men in the state and lay delegates elected by each Sunday school.
Soon after the constitution was adopted, I. W. Royer was elected executive secretary and served for more than a third of a century. His industry, tact, and co-operative spirit made the conference a vital force in promoting Bible study and teaching, missionary spirit, spiritual Christian activity among the young people, and unity among the brotherhood. Months before the annual conference he met with the executive committee and spent days arranging the conference program, then took it to the local ministry for their advice and counsel. Wherever local conditions were favorable, the program provided for special vocal music by young people's groups as an added inspirational feature. The conference proved a powerful cohesive force in Ohio Mennonitism. It regularly raised funds to support home and foreign missions, and recently established a fund to aid young men from the Ohio area preparing for the ministry by attending seminary.
The Ohio conference was the outstanding conference of its kind in the Mennonite Church (MC) and made a major contribution to the life of that church in the first half of the 20th century.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 30-31. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Umble, John S. "Ohio Mennonite Christian Workers Conference." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O4922.html.
APA style: Umble, John S. (1959). Ohio Mennonite Christian Workers Conference. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O4922.html.