During the early 1980s the Western District Conference (WDC) of the General Conference Mennonite Church under the leadership of Steven W. Goering, pastor of Boulder Mennonite Church and WDC Colorado Conference Minister initiated efforts that ultimately led to establishment of a Hmong Mennonite Church in the Denver, Colorado, metropolitan area. Under Goering's guidance Stan and Marlene Smucker, co-pastors of Arvada Mennonite Church agreed to provide oversight and a meeting place for a Hmong congregation.
Thereafter, the Arvada church sponsored several Hmong refugee families and provided them with a plot on the church property for gardening. As word of the available land spread, the gardening project expanded to include additional Hmong refugees. During the early 1990s the Frontier Village Foundation provided a grant to install water lines for irrigating the gardens. By the late 1990s, some 30 families gardened. Additional financial support for establishment of a Hmong congregation came from the General Conference Mennonite Church’s "City On the Hill" program as well as the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church.
Subsequent discussions for planting a Hmong Mennonite Church in Arvada began in late 1994 when Pastor Shoua Moua and wife Chou Vang Moua, who had established a Hmong Mennonite Church in Fresno, California, visited the Denver area to conduct strategy planning with representatives of the Western District and Rocky Mountain Mennonite conferences and Denver-area Mennonite congregations. In March 1995 Shoua Moua started a church planting ministry among Hmong refugees who had settled in the Arvada area. In August 1996 a group began meeting for weekly Bible study, and by the spring of 1997 a core group of 12-14 adults and six-eight children attended regularly. "City On the Hill" funds were used to purchase Hmong Bibles and hymnbooks for the new congregation and defray some educational expenses for a young man to attend Hesston College who later became pastor of the Hickory Hmong Mennonite Church in Hickory, North Carolina. In 1997 the Arvada Mennonite Church and Western District and Rocky Mountain conferences jointly sponsored the formal organization of the Hmong Mennonite Church in Arvada. On 6 June 1997 an organizing service for the Hmong church, which had grown to about 20 families, was convened, and the new congregation dually affiliated with both of its sponsoring conferences.
During 1997-2001, Mervin and Jane Dick, part-time Northern Area Ministers of the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Conference, represented the conference’s interests in working with the Western District Conference to encourage Hmong congregational development. The newly-established congregation began using the facilities of the Arvada Mennonite Church for regular worship and fellowship in June 1997, but by the early 2000s the church's attendance increased to an average of 80-100. In June 2005 the congregation began renting the facilities of the Westminster United Methodist Church where in 2010 it continued to meet on Sunday afternoons. In 2006 the Hmong Mennonite Church became a charter member of the newly-established Mountain States Mennonite Conference. During the formation of the new conference and subsequent to its establishment, Mervin and Jane Dick continued to provide liaison between the conference and the Hmong congregation.
In August 2003 the Hmong congregation under Shoua Moua’s leadership hosted the first Hmong Mennonite Churches Mission Assembly, the purpose of which was to establish an organization to strengthen congregations and encourage connections and support between Hmong churches and denominational and conference mission agencies in the United States and Canada. In addition to his pastoral duties, Moua served as president of the Hmong Mennonite Churches Mission. In 2006 he returned to Fresno to continue theological studies at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary. In 2007 Vang Kou Yang emigrated from Thailand and became the congregation’s pastor, a position in which he continued to serve in 2010.
In 2010 the Hmong Mennonite Churches Mission comprised six congregations, had some 800 members, and was affiliated with Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada. The six congregations included: Hmong New Hope Mennonite Church and Hmong Community Church, Fresno, California; Hmong Mennonite Church, St. Paul, Minnesota; Hickory Hmong Mennonite Church, Hickory, North Carolina; and First Hmong Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ontario.
Dick, Mervin. "Hmong Church Bids Pastor Farewell." Conference Connections (June 2006): 3.
"Hmong Mennonite Church." Conference Connections (March 2006): 1.
Miller, Marilyn. "Hmong Mennonite Assembly 2003." Conference Connections (September-October 2003): 3.
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.
Address: 3585 W. 76th Avenue, Westminster, Colorado 80030
Mailing Address: PO Box 787, Westminster, Colorado 80036
Hmong Mennonite Church Pastors
|Shoua Moua||June 1994-2006|
|Vang Kou Yang||2007-|
|Date Published||May 2010|
Cite This Article
Unrau, Harlan. "Hmong Mennonite Church (Westminster, Colorado, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2010. Web. 31 Mar 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Hmong_Mennonite_Church_(Westminster,_Colorado,_USA)&oldid=103602.
Unrau, Harlan. (May 2010). Hmong Mennonite Church (Westminster, Colorado, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 31 March 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Hmong_Mennonite_Church_(Westminster,_Colorado,_USA)&oldid=103602.
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