Thomas Mennonite Church (Holsopple, Pennsylvania, USA)
Thomas Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church) was the third congregation organized in the Johnstown District of the Allegheny Mennonite Conference (formerly Southwestern Pennsylvania District Conference). This section had no church building for nearly one hundred years after the first Mennonite settlers came into the vicinity. They attended services a few times a year at the Blough church (erected 1836), which was the original congregation in this area. Prior to 1874 they also occasionally had services in the summer in the Thomasdale Schoolhouse about two miles from Thomas Mills. Names of original settlers in the Thomas church area were Thomas, Croyle, Saylor, Johns, Mishler, Woods, Speigle, Hershberger, Kaufman, Gindelsperger, Alwine, and Lehman.
A house of worship (36 x 50 ft.) was erected near Thomas Mills in 1874 on a plot of ground sold by John Thomas, Sr., for $50. The church was remodeled in 1905 due to the need for more space. Two entrances were changed to one and partitions separating the two sides were removed. In 1916 a new brick building (46 x 70 ft.) was erected to take care of the increasing membership. An addition was built to the front of the church in 1947, and in 1962 the basement was completely remodeled.
On 23 November 1967, Thanksgiving Day, a fire destroyed the church. The congregation met at Kissell Plumbing and Heating until a new church could be constructed. On 29 December 1968 a dedication service was held in the new church.
Sunday school classes were started in 1892, and a small room was added for the children in 1893. Beginning in 1912, Sunday school classes were held year round. A summer Bible school ministry was started in 1933, and Mennonite Youth Fellowship started in 1946.
The church is located about ten miles southwest of Johnstown. In the 1950s the congregation conducted a mission at Headrick just north of Johnstown.
Those who have served as ministers of the congregation: Joseph Gindlesperger, minister 1877-1885?, deacon 1885?-1917; Cyrus Hershberger, 1879-1887; James Saylor, minister, 1900-1903, bishop, 1903-1957 (was bishop of the entire Johnstown District until 1935; at his death in 1964 he was the eldest ordained Bishop in the Mennonite Church); Joseph Saylor, deacon, 1900-1916, minister 1916-?; Sem K. Eash, deacon 1917-1976; Aldus Wingard, minister, 1939-1941, bishop, 1941-1979; Donald Speigle, minister, 1968-1984; Elam Glick, minister, 1984-1987; Norman Moyer, minister, 1987-1989; James Keegan, licensed minister, 1989-1990; Homer Schrock, minister 1990-1996; D. Wayne, minister 1998-?; Randall Schlabach, 2013-present.
In 1957 the membership of the congregation was 167.
After 2010 the Thomas Mennonite Church left the Allegheny Mennonite Conference. This move was part of a larger realignment of Mennonite congregations formerly part of Mennonite Church USA. These congregations were unhappy with Mennonite Church USA's failure to take stronger disciplinary actions against area conferences and congregations who expressed openness to inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. In 2017 Thomas Mennonite Church was part of the EVANA Network.
"History of Thomas Mennonite Church." Web. 3 February 2016. http://thomasmennonite.org/ThomasMennoniteChurch/History.html.
Address: 112 Swank Road, Holsopple PA 15935
Website: Thomas Mennonite Church
|Author(s)||John L Horst|
|Date Published||February 2016|
Cite This Article
Horst, John L. "Thomas Mennonite Church (Holsopple, Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2016. Web. 20 Jan 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Thomas_Mennonite_Church_(Holsopple,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=148613.
Horst, John L. (February 2016). Thomas Mennonite Church (Holsopple, Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 January 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Thomas_Mennonite_Church_(Holsopple,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=148613.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 716. All rights reserved.
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