The Western District Amish Mennonite (AM) Conference was the counterpart of the Eastern Amish Mennonite Conference and included Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, and Oregon. Following the discontinuance of the Amish ministers' meetings of 1862-78 (Diener-Versammlungen), the more progressive Amish leaders met occasionally for counsel and fellowship. One such informal meeting was held in Illinois around 1882 and another one in the Sycamore Grove church in Cass County, Missouri, in 1883. In 1884 these western Amish ministers held a conference in Henry County, Iowa, at which time it was agreed to hold annual conferences, a plan which was followed from that date on. The earliest complete list of congregations belonging to the conference is the 1905 summary, which names 32 churches. A booklet entitled Western District AM Conference. Record of Conference Proceedings from the Date of its Organization begins with a report of the conference of 1890 held in the Sycamore Grove church, and ends with the conference of 1912, near Wayland, Iowa. Although conferences were held before 1890, evidently it was in 1890 that the conference became completely organized. Subsequent annual reports end with 1920, the year in which a merger was effected between the Mennonite (Mennonite Church) conferences west of Indiana and the Western Amish Mennonite Conference (this latter term was used interchangeably with "Western District A.M. Conference.") The five conferences affected by the merger were the Western Amish Mennonite, Pacific Coast (Mennonite Church), Illinois (MC), Missouri-Iowa (MC), and Kansas-Nebraska (MC). As a result of the merger the following five new Mennonite conferences appeared: Illinois, Iowa-Nebraska, Missouri-Kansas, Dakota-Montana, and Pacific Coast.
At the time of the dissolution of the Western AM Conference in 1920 the membership of that body was 4,388, in the following 32 congregations: Illinois (9) -- Hopedale, Goodfield, Roanoke, Metamora, East Bend, Willow Springs, Ohio Station, Waldo, Pleasant Grove; Iowa (6) -- Sugar Creek, Lower Deer Creek, West Union, Daytonville, East Union, Cedar Creek; Missouri (2) -- Sycamore Grove, Fairview; Arkansas—Stuttgart; Nebraska (7) -- East Fairview, Salem, Plum Creek, Wood River, West Fairview, East Fairview (Chappell), Slocum; Kansas -- Crystal Springs; Oklahoma (2) -- Pleasant View, AM of the Center Township at Pryor; Colorado -- Thurman; Oregon (3) -- Fairview, Zion, Bethel.
Ten outstanding leaders of the Western District AM Conference were Joseph Schlegel of Nebraska (1837-1913), in Iowa Sebastian Gerig (1839-1924) and Daniel Graber (1858-1930), in Missouri John J. Hartzler (1845-1936), and in Illinois John Smith (1843-1906), John C. Birky (1849-1920), Daniel Orendorff (1838-1918), Samuel Gerber (1863-1929), Andrew A. Schrock (1863-1949), and Chauncy A. Hartzler (1876-1947).
Gingerich, M. "Ten Leaders of the Western District Amish Mennonite Conference." Mennonite Historical Bulletin (October 1940): 1, 2, 3.
Hartzler J. S. and Daniel Kauffman. Mennonite Church History. Scottdale: Mennonite Book and Tract Society, 1905.
Cite This Article
Gingerich, Melvin. "Western District Amish Mennonite Conference." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 23 Oct 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Western_District_Amish_Mennonite_Conference&oldid=117006.
Gingerich, Melvin. (1959). Western District Amish Mennonite Conference. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 October 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Western_District_Amish_Mennonite_Conference&oldid=117006.
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