Union County Old Order Mennonite Settlement (Pennsylvania, USA)
The Buffalo Valley settlement of the Groffdale Old Order Mennonite Conference began in 1960 when seven Groffdale Conference families from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including their leader, Jacob W. Oberholtzer (ordained 1949), moved to Union County. Jacob had a desire to start a settlement that would hold a more conservative ordnung (standard) which prohibited the use of electricity, telephone, tractors as well as some other conveniences, but would remain in full fellowship with the Groffdale Conference. In 1962 the Groffdale Conference ordained a deacon for this community when Adam M. Reiff drew the lot. From 1962 through 1967 Jacob Oberholtzer and Adam Reiff served as the church leaders. In 1967, Oberholtzer and Reiff relocated to Cumberland Valley in Franklin County. From the time of its founding until the leaders moved away, the settlement's population remained stagnant. Soon after Oberholtzer's and Reiff's departure, the remaining community members returned to the less conservative Groffdale Conference standard. Because of this change, other Groffdale Conference families began to move to Buffalo Valley. By 1968, 14 new families had relocated to this community. As of 1 January 2011 there were approximately 237 Groffdale Conference households within Union County. (For further information about Jacob Oberholtzer see the Cumberland Valley Settlement.)
The Mountain Valley meetinghouse is a wood frame building erected in 1968 along Kaiser Road. It was enlarged in 1988 to 50 feet by 80 feet. Since 1968 this congregation has adhered to the prescribed Groffdale Conference standard. As of 1 January 2011, the following ministry team served the congregation--the presiding bishop was Esra M. Zimmerman (ordained minister, 1970; bishop, 2008). The minister was Phares L. Zimmerman (ordained 1975) and the deacon was Earl M. Martin (ordained 2005).
The Vicksburg meetinghouse is a wood frame building erected in 1971 as a temporary solution to relieve the overcrowding in the meetinghouse at the eastern end of the settlement. This meetinghouse was built along Beaver Run Road. It was built in an a different shape from other Groffdale Conference meetinghouses. Because of its dissimilar shape, this meetinghouse generated dissatisfaction amomg some of the members. Inside, the preacher’s table was located at the gable end of the building. The seating arrangement had all men on the right side and all women on the left side. By 1979, the congregation had increased to the point of overcrowding. Unable to successfully expand this unusually-shaped building, the congregation dismantled it. A new meetinghouse was built in the style normally used in constructing Groffdale meetinghouses. It was enlarged in 2000 to 56 feet by 80 feet. As of 1 January 2011 the following ministry team served the congregation--The presiding bishop was Levi N. Martin (ordained minister, 1968; bishop, 1974). Ministers were Amos W. Nolt (ordained 1983) and Lloyd R. Zimmerman (ordained 2000). The deacon was Linus H. Martin (ordained 1984).
The Penns Creek meetinghouse is a wood frame building erected in 1999 in Snyder County along Route 104. Originally constructed to serve as a school house, it was also used as a meetinghouse until 2007. After 2007 it was used only as a school house. The ministry of Buffalo Valley, Union County had presided there.
Groffdale Conference Mennonite Church Schedules.
Records of ordinations of the Old Order Mennonites, Groffdale Conference churches, 1750 to 2010. East Earl, PA: [Earl Z. Weaver?], 2010.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Martin, Jonathan H. "Union County Old Order Mennonite Settlement (Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2012. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/union_county_pennsylvania_old_order_mennonite_settlement.
APA style: Martin, Jonathan H. (February 2012). Union County Old Order Mennonite Settlement (Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/union_county_pennsylvania_old_order_mennonite_settlement.