Bethel College Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA) at North Newton, Harvey County, Kansas, was organized to meet the needs of a college community, first of all the students and faculty of Bethel College, and also others who were attracted to the services and began attending in increasing numbers. With 22 charter members, the church had its beginning in 1897. C. H. Wedel, Bethel College's first president, was chosen as college pastor, and David Goerz, business manager of the college, as elder. The church became a member of the Western District Conference in 1898 and a year later, 1899, was received into the General Conference Mennonite Church.
With the growth of the Newton community and the college, the congregation likewise increased in numbers. The 1953 membership was 530 (626 in 2006), though nearly one fourth of these may be classified as "non-resident." The resident membership was made up of teachers and other employees of the college, laborers, business and professional people, as well as retired couples living in Newton. Less than 20 families lived on farms in 1953. There were within the membership in 1953, 23 ordained ministers, some of whom were retired and others of whom were engaged as teachers, missionaries, or administrative workers. The students worshipped with the congregation and could become associate members.
Services of worship were held every Sunday in the college chapel which had a seating capacity of nearly 600. The need for a separate church building has been felt for some years and in 1950 the erection of a church on the Bethel College campus was begun; it was dedicated 2 December 1956. The German language was used exclusively until 1912, when provision was made for some English services. After 1930 all services, with the exception of certain special meetings, employed only the English language, though the German chorales were still loved and found occasional use.
Since the early ministries of C. H. Wedel and David Goerz, 1897-1912, the church was served by the following pastors through 1953: J. W. Kliewer, 1912-1925; H. A. Fast, 1925-1930; J. H. Langenwalter (supply), 1931-1932; J. W. Kliewer, 1932-1935; J. N. Smucker, 1936-1942; Lester Hostetler, 1942-1952; Harold Buller, 1952- .
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 210.
Address: 2600 College Avenue, North Newton, Kansas
Website: Bethel College Mennonite Church
Cite This Article
Hostetler, Lester. "Bethel College Mennonite Church (North Newton, Kansas, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 27 Jan 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bethel_College_Mennonite_Church_(North_Newton,_Kansas,_USA)&oldid=54582.
Hostetler, Lester. (1953). Bethel College Mennonite Church (North Newton, Kansas, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 January 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bethel_College_Mennonite_Church_(North_Newton,_Kansas,_USA)&oldid=54582.
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