Emmaus Mennonite Church (Whitewater, Kansas, USA)
Emmaus Mennonite Church, an independent Mennonite congregation located 1.5 miles north and 2.5 miles east of Whitewater, Butler County, Kansas, was formerly a member of the Western District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church. It had its origin with the arrival of West Prussian immigrants in 1876. Family heads included Abraham, Dietrich, and Eduard Claassen, Johann Dyck, Johann and Bernhard Harder, Heinrich Penner, and Gerhard Regier. These were joined in the following year by the Leonhard and Abraham Sudermann families coming from South Russia. Leonhard Sudermann served as the first elder (1877). He was assisted by his brother Abraham Sudermann and Peter Dyck as ministers. The former later affiliated with the First Mennonite Church of Newton, and the latter with the Zion Mennonite Church of Elbing. Succeeding ministers and elders were Eduard Claassen, minister 1884-1902, and elder 1900-1902; Gustav Harder, minister 1884-1923, and elder 1902-1923; Johann P. Andres, minister 1893-1905; Heinrich M. Wiebe, minister 1902-1905; Bernhard W. Harder, minister 1902-1939, and elder 1923-1939; Henry Thiessen, minister 1908 (installed in 1911) -1939; Bernhard Wiebe, minister 1910-1921; John C. Kaufman, minister and elder 1939-1947; Walter H. Dyck, pastor 1948-1954; and L. R. Amstutz 1955- .
The first meetinghouse was erected in 1878 with a seating capacity of 200; the second in 1908, seating 400; and the third in 1929, seating 800, which was still in use in 1953. A parsonage was built in 1950. The membership continued predominantly rural. Weekday parochial schools and catechetical instruction have been provided from the early years. Until 1908 the hymnal used at worship services was one without notes brought from Germany. Until 1929 four brethren had taken turns in leading congregational singing. At present a song leader (see Chorister) is elected annually.
The first deacons were elected in 1917. These together with the ministers constituted the church board. A church constitution was adopted in 1923. Communion was observed three times per year. Footwashing has not been observed. Morning worship services included a kneeling prayer and ten minutes of song and meditation in the German language. The first missionaries to go out from the membership were Alfred Wiebe and wife, who went to the American Indians in Montana in 1911. Members have shown an active interest in the Berean Academy, Elbing, Kansas. The membership in 1955 was 379.
On 29 January 2008 the church was destroyed by fire. The congregation met at the Berean Academy as it rebuilt.
"Fire destroys Kansas Church." Mennonite Weekly Review (4 February 2008): 1, 7.
Fretz, J. W. “A Tree at Whitewater,” Mennonite Life V (April 1950) 11-15.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: I, 576 f.
In Commemoration of Seventy-Five Years in America. Whitewater, Kans., 1952.
Sudermann, L. Eine Deputationsreise von Russland nach America. Elkhart, 1897.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 204. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Dyck, Walter H. and Sam Steiner. "Emmaus Mennonite Church (Whitewater, Kansas, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 2008. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/emmaus_mennonite_church_whitewater_kansas_usa.
APA style: Dyck, Walter H. and Sam Steiner. (2008). Emmaus Mennonite Church (Whitewater, Kansas, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/emmaus_mennonite_church_whitewater_kansas_usa.