First Mennonite Church of Canton (Canton, Ohio, USA)
First Mennonite Church of Canton (Mennonite Church USA, formerly known as Canton Mennonite Mission, is in the eastern part of the city of Canton, Stark County, Ohio, where a parsonage was erected in 1912 and a church building in 1915.
The mission was founded in 1904 by a joint committee representing the Ohio Mennonite Conference and the Eastern Amish Mennonite conferences. This action grew out of a request for reopening the Mennonite church located at this place approximately 1823-1899, whose services had been discontinued for about five years. John A. Liechty was appointed as first superintendent and pastor. In 1907 the property and administration of the mission was given to the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, at Elkhart, Indiana. A branch was opened by P. R. Lantz in an industrial area on 21 September 1909, known as "The Happy Hour Mission," which was discontinued about five years later. A six weeks' Bible school was organized in 1912 by P. R. Lantz and I. W. Royer. The first sessions were held in January and February of 1913. This school, called the Canton Bible School, continued intermittently, with the students sharing in the program and work of the mission.
Following is a list of the superintendent-pastors with their period of service (to 1953): J. A. Liechty, 1904-1906; P. R. Lantz, 1906-1912; George M. Hostetler, 1912-1914; C. K. Brenneman, 1914-1919; N. E. Troyer, 1919-1923; O. N. Johns, 1923-1926; C. C. King, 1926-1927; E. A. Shank, 1927-1931; M. C. Lehman, June-August 1931; William G. Detweiler, 1931-1938; J. J. Hostetler, 1938-1952; Allen Ebersole, 1952- . Eight ordinations had been held at the Canton church by 1953: Michael Rohrer, 1868, bishop; P. R. Lantz, 1907, minister; E. F. Hartzler, 1910, minister; O. N. Johns, 1923, minister; William G. Detweiler, 1933, minister; J. J. Hostetler, 1939, minister; D. Walter Miller, 1941, deacon; Allen Ebersole, 1953, bishop.
During the years 1938-1944 the mission carried on a branch work in the Hartville community, about 12 miles north of Canton, which developed into an organized congregation known as the Hartville Mennonite Church, having a membership of over 200 in 1950. Another branch was begun in 1945 in a suburban area known as the Moreland Allotment, southeast of the city, with summer Bible school, evangelistic meetings, and Sunday school in a renovated barn. In 1948 this field was taken over by another denomination.
The mission at Canton was first organized in 1904 with three members and five imported workers. Thousands have been ministered unto, hundreds have been converted, and the membership has grown from year to year. Many members, however, transferred their membership to other places, including the new Hartville congregation, while still others withdrew. In 1952 the membership stood at 82.
The background of this mission congregation involved the history of the Rowland Mennonite Church, in existence in Canton 1823-1899. Jacob Rowland, Sr., a Mennonite who came in 1810 from Maryland to a farm one mile (1.5 km) east of the village of Canton, about 1823 gave a parcel of ground for a cemetery and church, and built a log meetinghouse. About 1830 Joseph Rohrer was in charge of the congregation as pastor, continuing until about 1852 when he moved to Indiana. From 1852 to 1863 the congregation was served by visiting ministers, Smith and Newcomer, from Columbiana County, Ohio. About 1874 this log building was replaced with a brick structure. Gradually, as the village became a city, it enveloped the small church and absorbed the rural community. Many of the members moved out, while others united with various city churches. In 1893 the bishop and pastor, Michael Rohrer, died, leaving the small congregation without leadership. Services continued with less frequency, the congregation being served only by visiting ministers. Several attempts were made at reviving the work during those years. Menno S. Steiner moved into the community during this time for about a year. The work, however, dwindled and services were discontinued about 1899 by the Mennonites until the opening of the mission in 1904, which took over the Rowland church property for its use.
In 2009 the membership was 57; the pastors were Daniel R Hooley and Darin Nissley.
Address: 1935 3rd St SE, Canton, Ohio
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 510. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Hostetler, J. J. "First Mennonite Church of Canton (Canton, Ohio, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 20 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/F5632.html.
APA style: Hostetler, J. J. (1953). First Mennonite Church of Canton (Canton, Ohio, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/F5632.html.