Sharon Bethel Amish Mennonite Church (Kalona, Iowa, USA)

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The Sharon Bethel Amish Mennonite Church in Kalona, Iowa, USA was established in 1946. The congregation started from a division within the Kalona Old Order Amish community.

Disagreement arose among some Johnson County Old Order members over the use of modern equipment. Precipitating the controversy was the fact that Johnson County highway officials had applied an oil surface to roads in the southern part of the county and had then prohibited the use of vehicles with lugs, such as tractors used by the Amish. Members of Kalona's North Church District agreed to use rubber on their machinery, but this decision brought an immediate, negative reaction from other districts. Action was taken by leadership to prevent the North District from going ahead with adoption of rubber tires, and gradually the question of other modern conveniences and equipment also became involved. Soon members were arguing over the propriety of using electricity, owning automobiles, and installing telephones.

Seven families left the Old Order church and began meeting separately for religious services. They first worshipped in an an unused Lutheran church located northeast of Kalona.

Ministers from Beachy Amish churches in other states came to preach until John Helmuth and Moses E. Yoder were ordained as ministers during the winter of 1946. The Beachy adopted the name, Burkholder Church, after D. O. Burkholder who had visited the group from Nappanee, Indiana.

In 1952 the congregation built a church five miles north of Kalona and changed their name to Sharon Bethel. By 1974 the congregation had grown to 41 families and a membership of 99.

In 2017 the church was a member of the Beachy Amish Mennonite Fellowship and had a membership of 122. The bishop was Delmar L. Bontrager, and the ministers were Lamar Ropp and Elwyn Stutzman.


"Amish Mennonite Churches in Iowa." The Beachy Amish Mennonites. 2013. Web. 15 March 2018.

Anderson, Cory. The Amish-Mennonites of North America: a portrait of our people. Medina, New York: Ridgeway Publishing, 2012: 150-151.

Mennonite Church directory (2017): 47.

Schwieder, Dorothy and Elmer. "The Beachy Amish in Iowa: a case study." Mennonite Quarterly Review 51 (1977): 41-51. Available in full electronic text at:

Schwieder, Elmer and Dorothy Schwieder. "The Beachy Amish" in A peculiar people: Iowa's Old Order Amish. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1976: 129-139. Available in full electronic text at:

Yoder, Elmer S. The Beachy Amish Mennonite Fellowship Churches. Hartville, Ohio: Diakonia Ministries, 1987: 324-325.

Additional Information

Address: 2260 520th Street SW, Kalona, Iowa

Phone: 391-683-2672


Denominational Affiliations:

Beachy Amish Mennonite Fellowship


Sharon Bethel Amish Mennonite Church

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Jonathan M. Miller. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 512. All rights reserved.

Sharon Bethel Amish Mennonite Church, unaffiliated, located 5 miles north of Kalona, Iowa, was organized in 1946, under D. O. Burkholder of Nappanee, Indiana. The congregation held its services in a Lutheran meetinghouse until 1952, when it dedicated its own meetinghouse. In 1954 Jonathan M. Miller was the bishop, J. C. Helmuth and Mose E. Yoder the ministers, with 52 members.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published March 2018

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Sharon Bethel Amish Mennonite Church (Kalona, Iowa, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2018. Web. 8 Jul 2020.,_Iowa,_USA)&oldid=165461.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (March 2018). Sharon Bethel Amish Mennonite Church (Kalona, Iowa, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 8 July 2020, from,_Iowa,_USA)&oldid=165461.

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