Beldor Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA) is located six miles (10 km) southeast of Elkton, Virginia. Mennonites first came to the area through the Young People’s Christian Association (YPCA) of Eastern Mennonite College. YPCA students held worship meetings on the streets of Elkton in 1935. At one Saturday night street meeting Ernie Shifflett asked the group to come to the Beldor area and have services in a church near his home. The Beldor community felt ownership of the building, owned by Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) at the time, because many community members had helped build it, but the EUB had stopped sending preachers. YPCA held services there through the school year, turning leadership over to the Middle District of Virginia Mennonite Conference.
John E. Kurtz was commissioned by the district in 1935 as the first itinerate preacher for the church and surrounding Blue Ridge area. He also preached at his Mutton Hollow and Temple Hill church plants. In the early years the congregation was known as Mt. Hebron Mennonite Church. (“Mt. Hebron" had been the EUB church name.) Kurtz organized revival meetings in 1940 and the first women were baptized in November 1940. Men were not baptized until 1947; it was slow going due to the Mennonite stance against military service. The church building was purchased in 1947 from the EUB for $500. In 1951 Harold Lehman became the first "church pastor." The church’s first year-around Bible school also began in 1951. The congregation changed its name to Beldor Mennonite Church in 1958.
The period of the 1960s-1980s saw much discussion within the Mennonite Church and at Beldor about proper activities and dress for believers. At stake was the sense of being a called-out people and resisting cultural norms versus fitting into the community for more effective outreach.
The church building was expanded on two occasions. A basement was dug out under the building to create Sunday school classrooms and a kitchen in 1954. The footprint of the building was expanded on both floors for additional classrooms and expanded fellowship hall in 1968-70. This remained its configuration in 2013.
For a small congregation of 30-40 people, Beldor has been very active in reaching out to its community. It has a well-defined local mission area, focusing on the Beldor Hollow and surrounding Elkton environs. Outreach methods are homegrown and sustainable by the members, including calling on the sick, bluegrass music concerts on the first Sunday evening each month, Fall Festival in September, an apple dumpling fundraiser in October, Thanksgiving meal open to the community, and substantial Christmas baskets. Beyond the local area, Beldor women regularly quilt comforters for Mennonite Central Committee and specific aid calls, assemble children’s Christmas boxes, and help with disaster relief. Beldor assembled and delivered over two tons of food, water, and bedding for Hurricane Sandy relief in 2012.
While visioning Beldor’s future, and recognizing their own strengths in “doing," the congregation desires spiritual growth. Beldor looks forward to the next 80 years as a worshiping body.
Brunk, Harry A. History of Mennonites in Virginia: 1900-1960. Volume II. (Verona, Va.: McClure Printing Company, Inc., 1972): 155-156.
Meetinghouse Address: 2512 Beldor Road, Elkton, Virginia
Map:Beldor Mennonite Church (Elkton, Virginia) +Original Article from Mennonite Encyclopedia+ By Harry A. Brunk. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1064. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
The Beldor Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA), located in Rockingham County, Virginia, was started in 1935 in a former United Brethren Church found vacant by the Young People's Christian Association of Eastern Mennonite College. It was purchased by the Mennonites in 1947. In 1958 it had 18 members, with Paul Good as pastor.
|Date Published||September 2013|
Cite This Article
Åkerson, James. "Beldor Mennonite Church (Elkton, Virginia, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2013. Web. 6 May 2016. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Beldor_Mennonite_Church_(Elkton,_Virginia,_USA)&oldid=101436.
Åkerson, James. (September 2013). Beldor Mennonite Church (Elkton, Virginia, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 6 May 2016, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Beldor_Mennonite_Church_(Elkton,_Virginia,_USA)&oldid=101436.
©1996-2016 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.