Cheap agricultural land attracted Mennonite settlers to the Shallow Water, Scott County area in western Kansas during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In 1914 the Friends Society built the first church in Shallow Water, a small agricultural community where a post office had been established in 1913 some 25 miles (40 km) north of Garden City. By 1915, Shallow Water had become the northern terminus of the Garden City Western Railway, a subsidiary of the Garden City Sugar and Land Company. Beginning as a community church under the direction of Harry Howell, the fledgling Friends congregation continued to operate under the leadership of several women after his death.
In 1933 L. H. Alberts, a missionary affiliated with the American Sunday School Union, began directing the ministry in Shallow Water. Services were held until the early 1940s at which time the Sunday school was moved to the town’s schoolhouse because the old church structure was too difficult to heat.
Attendance plummeted during World War II. In desperation, two Mennonite families who had moved into the community -- the S. D. Bontragers and Orval Zinks -- were contacted. With the help of the Emery Bontrager family, attendance was revived, and ministers from other localities, such as La Junta, Colorado, began preaching for the congregation. John Steiner moved into the area and provided pastoral leadership from 1948 to 1954. Finally, in April 1955 Mennonites in the area brought their church letters together and organized a formal congregation which affiliated with the South Central Conference of the Mennonite Church and later became a charter member of the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Conference in 1961.
Eugene Schulz, a member of the group, was selected to serve as pastor during the spring of 1957. Licensed on 3 November 1957, and ordained a year later, Schulz continued as pastor until moving to Walsenburg, Colorado, in January 1965. By 1959 the Gospel Fellowship, with a vision for working toward increased local and personal outreach, had a membership of 28 and an average attendance of 40.
A new church building was dedicated at Shallow Water on 4 December 1960. Those who had labored and worshipped together with the Mennonites joined as members that day. Thus, 22 new members were added to the church.
The Gospel Fellowship in Shallow Water, the easternmost congregation in the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Conference, had a membership of 64 by 1978. Ervey Unruh served as pastor for a period of time during the 1970s. The church withdrew from Mennonite denominational affiliation in November 1983.
Unrau, Harlan D. In Pursuit of Land, Health and Mission: A History of Mennonites in the Mountain States Region. Printed in Canada by Blitzprint Inc. 2007.
Original Article from Mennonite EncyclopediaVol. 4, p. 1088 by Melvin Gingerich
Gospel Fellowship Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church), Shallow Water, Kansas, organized in April 1955, meets in a public school but plans to build in Shallow Water. In 1959 it had 28 members, with Eugene Schulz as pastor.
|Author(s)||Harlan D Unrau|
|Date Published||November 2011|
Cite This Article
Unrau, Harlan D. "Gospel Fellowship Church (Scott City, Kansas, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2011. Web. 12 Mar 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Gospel_Fellowship_Church_(Scott_City,_Kansas,_USA)&oldid=64502.
Unrau, Harlan D. (November 2011). Gospel Fellowship Church (Scott City, Kansas, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 12 March 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Gospel_Fellowship_Church_(Scott_City,_Kansas,_USA)&oldid=64502.
©1996-2014 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.