La Junta Mennonite Church (La Junta, Colorado, USA)
The La Junta Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church) in La Junta, Colorado, was organized 4 May 1903. J. M. Nunemaker, a minister from Roseland, Nebraska, decided on this location in the irrigated land of eastern Colorado as the place of settlement for a Mennonite farm colony after several investigative trips through eastern Colorado in 1902. Two congregations were finally established, East Holbrook in the country and La Junta in the city. A few of the original settlers came from Roseland, but most came from Elida, Ohio, led by a minister, D. S. Brunk, and his son J. M. Brunk, later made a minister at La Junta, who arrived at Pueblo in December 1902 and joined forces with Nunemaker. A few others came from Harrisonburg, Virginia,, including the Rhodes and Heatwole families. The Holbrook settlement, 12 miles (20 km) northeast of La Junta, was begun by Nunemaker on 17 February 1903. The J. M. Brunk family started the Fairmount settlement four miles (six km) west of La Junta in the same month. On 4 May 1903 the La Junta Mennonite Church was organized with 20 charter members living in two settlements, among them two ministers, J. M. Nunemaker and George Ross. The first La Junta meetinghouse was an old Presbyterian church given by the city and occupied on 6 March 1905. On 31 December 1916 a new brick church was dedicated. The congregation at once joined the Kansas-Nebraska Conference and received S. C. Miller of Jet, Oklahoma, as its first bishop. Later bishops were ordained from the congregation – J. A. Heatwole, who served 1919-1940, and Allen Erb 1939. In 1954 the membership was 168, with Wilbur Nachtigall as pastor.
The La Junta congregation was the mother church of Mennonites (MC) in Colorado. From it were organized East Holbrook in 1904, Denver in 1941, Pueblo in 1949, and a Spanish (Mexican) congregation in La Junta in 1941, which in 1954 had 42 members, with David Castillo as pastor.
Because of the healthful dry climate and the (former) belief that tuberculosis could best be treated in such climates, local Mennonites established a sanitarium in 1908, located 4.5 miles (seven km) west of La Junta, and operated until 1927. In 1920 the city of La Junta asked the Mennonites to take over the hospital, which they did, and operated it until 1927, when a new Mennonite hospital and sanitarium were erected. A school of nursing was operated in connection with the hospital in 1915-1958.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 264. 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. "La Junta Mennonite Church (La Junta, Colorado, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1958. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/L1810.html.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1958). La Junta Mennonite Church (La Junta, Colorado, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/L1810.html.