During the early 1800s the old Germantown congregation gradually declined. In the division of 1847 in the Franconia Conference the remaining handful of members sided with the new Eastern District Conference led by John H. Oberholtzer and Abraham Hunsicker. In 1851, when the Hunsicker group broke with the new conference, the congregation stayed with Hunsicker. During the next years the preachers were Abraham Hunsicker, Henry Hunsicker, F. R. S. Hunsicker, and Israel Beidler. In 1863 the congregation was formally reorganized with 13 members. Finally in 1876, after the death of Beidler, the congregation returned to the Eastern District Conference and continued weekly worship throughout the years since then. Ministers from 1876 to the 1950s were John A. Haldeman, N. B. Grubb, W. MacArthur, H. Frederick, A. Funk, S. M. Grubb, S. Musselman, F. Gabel, J. Bayley, A. S. Shelly, H. Landes, W. Wolfe, and R. Brewer.
The 1770 meetinghouse, the oldest Mennonite meetinghouse in America, is located with its ancient burial ground along historic Germantown Avenue at Herman Street (6117) in Germantown, now incorporated in North Philadelphia. In 1916 an addition was built to the meetinghouse. Though the membership in the 1950s was only 37 there was a renewal of interest and life in the congregation. The interior of the meetinghouse was largely restored to its colonial simplicity in 1952. To preserve and promote it as a Mennonite "shrine" the incorporated ownership of the meetinghouse and grounds was transferred into the hands of a Germantown Mennonite Church Trust, composed of representatives of the congregation, the Eastern District Conference, and the General Conference Mennonite Church. -- JHF
In 1970 the trust reorganized to include delegates from the General Conference Mennonites, Mennonite Church, Eastern District Conference, Franconia Conference and the local Germantown Mennonite Congregation. In the 1970s the affiliation with the Franconia Mennonite Conference was reinstated, and Germantown became an early "dual-conference" Mennonite congregation with membership in the General Conference Mennonite Church and the Mennonite Church. In 1987 the congregation began renting space from neighboring facilities and in 1993 purchased a building at 21 West Washington Lane.
Germantown, in the last decades of the 20th century, became a congregation that welcomed full inclusion of sexual minorities into membership. Because of this position, the congregation was removed as member of the Franconia Conference in 1997 and as a member of the Eastern District Conference in November 2002. Germantown continued as an independent Mennonite congregation. -- SJS
See also Germantown Mennonite Settlement
Bender, Harold S. "The Founding of the Mennonite Church in America at Germantown 1683-1708." Mennonite Quarterly Review 7 (1933) 227-250.
Bender, Harold S. "Was William Rittenhouse the First Mennonite Bishop in America?" Mennonite Quarterly Review 7 (1933): 42-47.
Cassel, Daniel Kolb. History of the Mennonites: historically and biographically arranged from the time of the Reformation, more particularly from the time of their emigration to America, containing sketches of the oldest meeting houses and prominent ministers ; also their confession of faith, adopted at Dortrecht, in 1621. Philadelphia: Daniel K. Cassel, 1888.
Germantown Mennonite Church. "Relationship to the Mennonite Church." 2007. Accessed 18 October 2007. <http://germantownmennonite.org/index.php?screen=menu&choice=about.mennonite_church>
Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust. "Significant Dates in The History of Mennonites in Germantown." 2004. Accessed 18 October 2007. <http://www.meetinghouse.info/sigdates.html>
Grubb, N. B. The Mennonite Church of Germantown. Philadelphia, PA, 1906.
Wenger, John Christian. History of the Mennonite: of the Franconia Conference. Telford, PA, 1937. See chapter I (Part II, Congregational Histories) "Germantown," 87-95.
Germantown Mennonite Church website
Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust website
|Author(s)||Harold S., J. Herbert Fretz Bender|
Cite This Article
Bender, Harold S., J. Herbert Fretz and Sam Steiner. "Germantown Mennonite Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 2007. Web. 30 Jan 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Germantown_Mennonite_Church_(Philadelphia,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=91902.
Bender, Harold S., J. Herbert Fretz and Sam Steiner. (2007). Germantown Mennonite Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 January 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Germantown_Mennonite_Church_(Philadelphia,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=91902.
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