Prairie Street Mennonite Church (Elkhart, Indiana, USA)
Prairie Street Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church [MC]), Elkhart, Indiana, a member of the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference, was organized by John F. Funk, a minister who had moved into the city in 1867 and set up a publishing company there. Preaching services had been held in the city every two weeks in the homes of the members since 4 December 1870. The meetinghouse was built at the present site in 1871 and the first service held in it on 26 November 1871. (Elkhart at that time had a population of some 3,000.) The meetinghouse, a frame building, which was enlarged in 1895 and 1901, burned to the ground in 1935 and was replaced by a brick building seating 550. Its membership in 1957 was 288. Two daughter congregations have developed in Elkhart out of mission outposts: Belmont in 1929 and Roselawn in 1949, with (1957) memberships of 100 and 44 respectively, making a total membership in Elkhart of 492. The chief ministers in the congregation have been John F. Funk 1871-1935, John S. Coffman 1879-1899, J. S. Lehman 1892-1904, G. L. Bender (deacon) 1907-1921, J. E. Hartzler 1910-1914, W. B. Weaver 1914-1923, J. S. Hartzler 1923-1933, J. E. Gingrich 1933-1953, J. B. Shenk 1953-1957, and Howard Zehr 1958- . The congregation was organized in 1871.
The Prairie Street congregation has been one of the most progressive and active MC congregations, partly because of the presence of the Mennonite Publishing Company and the early progressive leadership of Funk, who was also bishop of the congregation from 1891 until his removal from that office in 1900. Here the Mennonite Aid Plan was organized in 1882, the Mennonite Evangelizing Committee in 1882, which developed into the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, which has always had its headquarters here, and the Elkhart Institute in 1894, which developed into Goshen College in 1903. The first Young People's Meeting (MC) was started here in 1897, and the Mennonite Book and Tract Society was organized in 1894. In the Prairie Street church the first MC foreign missionaries were consecrated in 1899, namely, W. B. Page and his wife and J. A. Ressler. Prairie Street was also one of the first MC congregations to engage a seminary-trained minister and adopt the one-pastor system, when it engaged J. E. Hartzler in 1910.
Minutes of the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference 1864-1929. Scottdale, 1929: contains a brief historical sketch of the congregation.
Address: 1316 Prairie Street, Elkhart, IN 46516; Telephone: 574-293-0377
Church website: http://www.prairiestreetmc.org/
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 209. 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. "Prairie Street Mennonite Church (Elkhart, Indiana, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 19 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/prairie_street_mennonite_church_elkhart_indiana.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1959). Prairie Street Mennonite Church (Elkhart, Indiana, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/prairie_street_mennonite_church_elkhart_indiana.