Bergthal Mennonite Church (Pawnee Rock, Kansas, USA)

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Bergthal Mennonite Church, Pawnee Rock, KS, May 2013.

The Bergthal Mennonite Church and settlement, Pawnee Rock, west-central Kansas, was founded in 1875 by Mennonite immigrants who had come from Poland in 1874. The approximately 30 families establishing the Bergthal Mennonite community were only a few of the families who had come from the Ostrog Mennonite settlement near Zhitomir in the province of Volhynia. Karolswalde and Antonovka were among the villages of this settlement which had been established by Mennonites coming from the Graudenz settlement. Michalin was a neighboring settlement. Tobias A. Unruh had been elder of the Ostrog or Karolswalde church since 1853 and was a member of the 1873 delegation sent to America to find suitable land for settlement. After his return to Poland he led most of his group to America, where they established the Friedensberg Mennonite Church at Avon, South Dakota, the Canton, Kansas, Mennonite settlement with the present Emmanuel Mennonite Church and the congregations of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, as well as the Bergthal Mennonite Church near Pawnee Rock.

The Bergthal Mennonite Church and settlement established in 1875 is located in Barton County on land obtained through the Homestead Act and the Santa Fe Railroad. One group lived for a while in a village, the Dundee colony, as they were accustomed to in Russian Poland. They first met in schoolhouses and had 75 members in the newly organized church. During the pioneer days a considerable number joined the local Swedenborg Church. Common names were Schmidt, Unruh, Dirks, and Siebert. The ministers who served included Abraham Siebert, Jacob Koehn, Tobias Dirks, Peter Dirks, J. B. Schmidt, and J. E. Kaufman. In 1897 the congregation built a wooden church, which was replaced in 1915 by a large brick structure with bell tower. Sunday school was organized in 1885, followed by such organizations as mission and Christian Endeavor societies, choirs, and Bible school. The congregation joined the Western District Conference in 1886.

In 1953 the membership was 223 and attendance was around 260. In 2008 the membership was 75.

Attendance declined after 2000, with Sunday attendance dropping to an average of 14 by early 2013. A memorial service was held on 26 May 2013 and the final service was held on 30 June 2013. Plans were to raze the building, and to erect a monument at the nearby cemetery remembering the pioneer community. Lynn Schlosser was the part time pastor in 2013.


"Historic Mennonite Church won't see its Centennial: Dwindling Congregation Opts to Raze Church Built in 1915." The Topeka Capital Journal. 3 May 2013. Web. 20 September 2016.

"Sprouts." Western District Conference (30 April 2013). Web. 3 May 2013.

Thacker, Susan. "Landmark Bergthal Mennonite Church closing its doors." Great Bend Tribune (2 May 2013). Web. 3 May 2013.

Additional Information

Address: SW 110 Avenue and SW 30 Road, Pawnee Rock, Kansas

Denominational Affliliations:

Western District Conference

Mennonite Church USA


Map:Bergthal Mennonite Church (Pawnee Rock, Kansas, USA)

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Sam Steiner
Date Published May 2013

Cite This Article

MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Sam Steiner. "Bergthal Mennonite Church (Pawnee Rock, Kansas, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2013. Web. 18 Mar 2019.,_Kansas,_USA)&oldid=139785.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Sam Steiner. (May 2013). Bergthal Mennonite Church (Pawnee Rock, Kansas, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 March 2019, from,_Kansas,_USA)&oldid=139785.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 281. All rights reserved.

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