Allegheny Mennonite Conference (Mennonite Church USA)
The Allegheny Mennonite Conference (prior to 1954 known as the Southwestern Pennsylvania Mennonite Conference) was organized in 1876. While Mennonites had settled in the area of the conference much earlier—Somerset County in two areas of Amish (Johnstown in the north and Meyersdale-Springs in the south) 1780-1800, Masontown, Martinsburg, and Scottdale Mennonites all about 1790, Rockton 1839, these being all the settlements at the time of organization, no conference had been formed.
When the Masontown congregation in 1873 called in Bishop Jacob N. Brubacher, of the Lancaster Conference, to conduct the ordination of a bishop--J. N. Durr was ordained--he gave them a cordial invitation to join the Lancaster Conference, having learned in response to his inquiry as to what conference the ministers attended that they sometimes attended the Lancaster Conference and sometimes the Ohio Conference. Bishop Durr did not follow Bishop Brubacher's invitation but took the lead in organizing a conference locally. In April 1876 the Lancaster Conference responded to an appropriate request carried by Bishop Durr and Henry Blauch, a minister, from a meeting of ministers of the area by authorizing the formation of a conference which was to be subject to the Lancaster Conference. The organization meeting was held 22 September 1876, at the Blough meetinghouse near Davidsville, PA, with the Lancaster moderator, Bishop Benjamin Herr, in charge, but it was not subject to the Lancaster Conference. The first moderator chosen was Bishop Durr, who was for many years the dominant personality in the conference.
In a few years all the Mennonite congregations of the southwestern area of Pennsylvania were members of the conference. No major new additions occurred until the former Amish Mennonite congregations of Mifflin County, PA, members of the Eastern Amish Mennonite (later Ohio and Eastern Amish Mennonite) Conference, joined—Maple Grove at Belleville (1944), and Allensville and Mattawana with mission outposts (1957). In 1957 the Allegheny Conference had 3,177 members in 27 organized and 22 mission congregations. Because of the location of the Mennonite Publishing House at Scottdale beginning in 1908, the ordained staff members there provided some outstanding leaders for the conference. These included bishops Aaron Loucks (a native of Scottdale), Daniel Kauffman, Jacob A. Ressler, John L. Horst, A. J. Metzler (a native of Martinsburg), Paul M. Lederach, and others such as C. F. Yake, Paul Erb, and Ellrose Zook.
A conference mission board organized in 1913, and a Sunday-school conference organized in 1895, later called a Christian Education Conference, had a strong positive influence. The first permanent Mennonite camp was in this conference, located at Laurelville in 1944. Though not a conference organization; it was preceded by a Young People's Institute which held an annual institute at Arbutus Park at Johnstown a number of years earlier. The Arbutus-Laurelville Institute, under a conference organization, had a wide influence. The Johnstown Bible School, started in 1922, which later became a conference institution, also rendered good service. The Johnstown Mennonite School is not a conference institution.
The Allegheny Mennonite Conference in 2003 had congregations in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Its principal membership concentrations are within a triangle bordered roughly by Lewistown, Pittsburgh, and Cumberland. The 2003 membership was 3,290 in 35 congregations.
A constitution adopted in 1981 provides for five commissions: Leadership; Finance and Stewardship; Nurture and Education; Missions and Service; Faith, Life and Procedures. Related organizations are Women 's Missionary and Service Auxiliary, Allegheny Conference Laymen 's Fellowship, and Mennonite Disaster Service. The Missions and Service Commission sponsors the development of new congregations. It has also been involved with International Guest House in Washington, DC; World's Attic in Somerset, PA; and Diakonia at Ocean City, MD.
Between sessions of the conference assembly, the work of the conference is monitored by a coordinating council comprising the chairs of the five commissions plus the moderator and the moderator-elect. The council employs the conference minister. The conference publication is Allegheny Conference News, published 10 times a year.
In 2010 the following congregations were members of the Allegheny Mennonite Conference:
History of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Conference. S.l., 1923 (not a history but a collection of conference minutes and statistics).
Mennonite Church USA. Directory (2003): 35-37.
Shetler, Sanford G. Two Centuries of Struggle and Growth. Allegheny Mennonite Conference, 1963.
Southwestern Pennsylvania Mission News (first number 23 November 1936, renamed Southwestern Pennsylvania Conference News in May 1942, and Allegheny Conference News in November 1954) contains a series of historical sketches of congregations by Ammon Kaufman beginning March 1947, which were largely reprinted in J. L. Horst and Ammon Kaufman, Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Observance of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Mennonite Conference. S.l., 1951, and from which came the article "Beginning of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Conference" in Mennonite Historical Bulletin 12 (October 1951).
Address: PO Box 12, Somerset, PA 15501
Website: Allegheny Mennonite Conference
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 589-590; vol. 5, p. 15. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Bender, Harold S. and Daniel Hertzler. "Allegheny Mennonite Conference (Mennonite Church USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2010. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A4445.html.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. and Daniel Hertzler. (July 2010). Allegheny Mennonite Conference (Mennonite Church USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A4445.html.