Mennonites first came to southeastern Virginia in February 1895 when the Amos and Fannie Swartz family of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church moved to what was then Hearing, Virginia, seeking inexpensive farm land. John O. Miller, a widower, along with his grandson Dwight Miller, arrived in 1899 and purchased a small farm which included a house, the community store, and the Hearing post office, later changed to Fentress. In 1900 the Elias R. Miller family moved to the property purchased the previous year by Elias’ father, John.
The C. F. Glick family arrived in 1902, the Joseph E. Wert family arrived in 1905, and the Jesse Barbe family arrived in 1907. The first services were held in the home of Elias Miller. The exact date is not known, but by the spring of 1904 Sunday school and preaching services were being held once a month. When no service was scheduled, families worshiped with the Methodists.
In December 1908 T. J. Wenger arrived with a large family of seven daughters, a number of them teenagers, and two sons. The first church meeting after their arrival was held at Elias R. Miller’s. Mrs. Miller, concerned about having enough seating for everyone, asked her 20-year-old son Dwight and his friend Daniel Wanner to sit on the stairs, as this would provide two more seat spaces. From where the fellows were sitting, they could see the Wengers dismounting. They counted each girl as she alighted: one, two, there, four, five, six. They were all eyes. Six girls in the new family! Suddenly Dwight discovered another daughter on the far side of the carriage. Excitedly pointing and stammering, he gasped to Dan, “There…there is another one on the other side of the surrey!”
Mt. Pleasant Mennonite Church was officially recognized by Virginia Mennonite Conference in 1905. An article by J. D. Wert was run in 1907 in the Mennonite publication Gospel Herald about the desirable climate and inexpensive farm land. By 1910 seventeen more families had made the move to Fentress, and on 1 May 1910, a new 40-foot by 60-foot building for the Mt. Pleasant Mennonite Church was dedicated. Additions and renovations were made to the original building in 1950, 1959, 1975, 1981, and 2013.
As early as 1935 a committee was formed in anticipation of opening a Christian day school. The old community store was renovated, and classes were first held in 1941. Forty-two students in grades one through seven were in a single classroom taught by Ruth Wenger, daughter of A. D. Wenger, Sr. In 1948 Mount Pleasant Christian Day School moved to its present location on Mt. Pleasant Road. In 2013 the school has an enrollment of more than 100 students.
Several sister Mennonite church were planted with the help of Mt. Pleasant members: Deep Creek Mennonite Church, Norview Mennonite Church, Landstown Community Fellowship, and Dove Fellowship. These were active churches for various numbers of years, but Landstown was the only one still in existence in 2013. Mt. Pleasant members Harold and Twila Buckwalter ministered to the Church at Sea from 1969 to 2009.
Mt. Pleasant has been actively involved in jail ministry since 16 August 1936, and has continued through 2013. For many years a volunteer group from Mt. Pleasant has sung Christmas carols at the Chesapeake City Jail in December. Other ministries and activities of Mt. Pleasant Mennonite Church have included: God’s Girls dance team, Mt. Pleasant Mennonite Sewing Circle, small group fellowships, weekly ladies' Bible study, short term mission trips, an active youth group, and Men on the Mount activities. Additional activities have included free guitar lessons, a softball team and The Messenger weekly newsletter.
These activities are meant to support and carry out the mission statement of Mt. Pleasant Mennonite Church: to worship the Lord joyfully, make disciples intentionally, partner together relationally, and be ambassadors for Christ prayerfully (Acts 2:42-47). Accordingly, the mission statement of the congregation states that Mt. Pleasant Mennonite Church is called to be a Christ centered family of God empowered by the Holy Spirit. We seek to call persons into a relationship with Jesus Christ and to nurture their continued growth through prayer, worship, loving relationships, biblically based Christian education, service and missions outreach. We nurture and embrace a loving, caring, family atmosphere and have sought to welcome and know the people God has brought into our community.
Centennial scrapbook maintained by the congregation.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III: 170.
Mast, Robert. Building at Mt. Pleasant: A History of Mt. Pleasant Mennonite Church, Chesapeake, Virginia. Chesapeake, Va.: The Church, 1980.
Address: 2041 Mt. Pleasant Rd, Chesapeake VA 23322 USA
Phone: Tel: 757-482-3667
Website: Mount Pleasant Mennonite Church
Pastoral Leaders at Mt. Pleasant
|Name||Years of Service|
|Amos D. Wenger, Sr.||1912-1922|
|Amos D. Wenger, Jr.||1937-1987|
|Philip E. Miller||1959-1990|
|Adonna Nissley (Interim)||1990-1991|
|Merlin L. Miller||1991-1997|
|Keith Miller (Associate)||1998-2001|
|Quinn Aeschliman (Associate/Youth)||2002-2004|
|Wendy Miller (Youth)||2005-2006|
|Nevin Mast (Youth)||2006-2011|
|Wendy Miller (Youth)||2011-2012|
|Nevin Mast (Associate)||2012-|
|Joe Monroe (Youth)||2013-|
Original Article from Mennonite Encyclopedia
By A. D. Wenger. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 760. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
Mount Pleasant Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA), located in Norfolk County, (now the city of Chesapeake) Virginia, is a member of the Virginia Mennonite Conference. The first settlers came into this area in 1900 and were organized into a congregation on 17 September 1905, by Anthony Heatwole, bishop from Waynesboro, VA, with 16 charter members; J. D. Wert was ordained as pastor. Other ministers who served the congregation to the 1950s were A. D. Wenger, S. H. Brunk, Amos D. Wenger, and Clayton D. Bergey, who served the congregation of 174 members in 1956. The first meetinghouse was built in 1910 and enlarged in 1952.
The congregation established the Mount Pleasant Christian Day School in 1941.
|Date Published||September 2013|
Cite This Article
Deal, Nancy. "Mount Pleasant Mennonite Church (Chesapeake, Virginia, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2013. Web. 11 Jul 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Mount_Pleasant_Mennonite_Church_(Chesapeake,_Virginia,_USA)&oldid=101445.
Deal, Nancy. (September 2013). Mount Pleasant Mennonite Church (Chesapeake, Virginia, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 11 July 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Mount_Pleasant_Mennonite_Church_(Chesapeake,_Virginia,_USA)&oldid=101445.
©1996-2014 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.