Bergthal Mennonite Church (Pawnee Rock, Kansas, USA)
The Bergthal Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA) and settlement, Pawnee Rock, west-central Kansas, was founded in 1875 by Mennonite immigrants who had come from Poland in 1874. The approximately 30 families establishing the Bergthal Mennonite community were only a few of the families who had come from the Ostrog Mennonite settlement near Zhitomir in the province of Volhynia. Karolswalde and Antonovka were among the villages of this settlement which had been established by Mennonites coming from the Graudenz settlement. Michalin was a neighboring settlement. Tobias A. Unruh had been elder of the Ostrog or Karolswalde church since 1853 and was a member of the 1873 delegation sent to America to find suitable land for settlement. After his return to Poland he led most of his group to America, where they established the Friedensberg Mennonite Church at Avon, South Dakota, the Canton, Kansas, Mennonite settlement with the present Emmanuel Mennonite Church and the congregations of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, as well as the Bergthal Mennonite Church near Pawnee Rock.
The Bergthal Mennonite Church and settlement established in 1875 is located in Barton County on land obtained through the Homestead Act and the Santa Fe Railroad. One group lived for a while in a village, the Dundee colony, as they were accustomed to in Russian Poland. They first met in schoolhouses and had 75 members in the newly organized church. During the pioneer days a considerable number joined the local Swedenborg Church. Common names were Schmidt, Unruh, Dirks, and Siebert. The ministers who served included Abraham Siebert, Jacob Koehn, Tobias Dirks, Peter Dirks, J. B. Schmidt, and J. E. Kaufman. In 1897 the congregation built a wooden church, which was replaced in 1915 by a large brick structure with bell tower. Sunday school was organized in 1885, followed by such organizations as mission and Christian Endeavor societies, choirs, and Bible school. The congregation joined the Western District Conference in 1886. In 1953 the membership was 223. In 2008 the membership was 75.
Attendance declined after 2000, with Sunday attendance dropping to an average of 14 by early 2013. A closing service was planned for late May, 2013. Plans were to raze the building, and to erect a monument at the nearby cemetery remembering the pioneer community. Lynn Schlosser was the part time pastor in 2013.
Address: SW 110 Avenue and SW 30 Road, Pawnee Rock, Kansas
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 281. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Krahn, Cornelius and Sam Steiner. "Bergthal Mennonite Church (Pawnee Rock, Kansas, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2013. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B4665.html.
APA style: Krahn, Cornelius and Sam Steiner. (May 2013). Bergthal Mennonite Church (Pawnee Rock, Kansas, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B4665.html.