Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA
The Ohio Conference of the Mennonite Church (Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA after the merger of the Mennonite Church and General Conference Mennonite Church) had its origins in the Ohio Mennonite Conference (1843; some accounts trace the origins of the conference to 1834) and the Eastern Amish Mennonite Conference (1893). These two conferences merged in 1927 to form the Ohio Mennonite and Eastern Amish Mennonite Joint Conference, later shortened to Ohio and Eastern Mennonite Conference. In 1978 another realignment occurred when the eastern congregations, located largely in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and New Jersey, formed the Atlantic Coast Conference of the Mennonite Church. The remaining Ohio congregations then formed the Ohio Conference by the present name.
In 1986 the conference had 11,136 members (80 congregations) and 164 ministers. The congregations were located in Ohio except for four in western Pennsylvania, one in Michigan, and one in Kentucky. The main settlements of these congregations were in Holmes County, Wayne County, the area around the town of Archbold, Stark County, the area around the town of West Liberty, Logan County, and Columbiana County Some small, rather isolated, rural churches were established in the late 1940s and 1950s. Since then greater effort went into beginning new congregations in urban and suburban areas. In 1987 there were four congregations in Cleveland.
The Kidron community in Wayne County served as a base for many of the conference's programs. Here are located the conference offices with staff serving in administration, youth ministries and nurture, and peace and service work. In the late 1960s a full-time conference minister along with overseers replaced the traditional Mennonite bishop system of pastoral oversight to congregations. Camp Luz, a Mennonite-affiliated youth camp, is located near Kidron, as is Central Christian High School (founded 1961). In 1987 the latter was a 200-student secondary school. The bimonthly periodical of the conference is The Ohio Evangel.
When strong leaders have emerged in the Ohio Conference in the post-World War II period, they have tended to move outside of the conference to where the church-wide institutions are located. For example, the Elida community (Allen County) produced the Augsburger family of leaders (A. Don, Myron, David), and the Oak Grove congregation in Wayne County produced outstanding educational and theological leaders in the Meyer (Albert J.) and Yoder (John H.; Mary Ellen Yoder Meyer) families.
The conference has had theological and social interaction with the three other main Mennonite bodies within the state including joint meetings with the Central District (GCM) in 1984. Four congregations had affiliations with both conferences. Church planting and mission efforts were increasingly coordinated between these two conferences. Various informal contacts with the Conservative Mennonite Conference and the large Ohio Amish population continued.
In 2010 the following 77 congregations were members of the Ohio Conference of the Mennonite Church:
Gospel Herald (5 April 1988): 234-36.
Horsch, James E., ed. Mennonite Yearbook and Directory. Scottdale: Mennonite Publishing House (1988-89): 31-33.
Miller, Levi. Our People: The Amish and Mennonites of Ohio. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1983.
Stoltzfus, Grant M. Mennonites of the Ohio and Eastern Conference. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1969.
Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA website.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 650. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Miller, Levi. "Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA ." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2010. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O4915.html.
APA style: Miller, Levi. (July 2010). Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA . Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O4915.html.