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Prairie Street Mennonite Church (Elkhart, Ind.) | Mennonite Church USA Archives

Name: Prairie Street Mennonite Church (Elkhart, Ind.)


Historical Note:

Historical Sketch

 

1867 John F. and Salome Funk arrived in Elkhart, a town of 3100 with no Mennonite church

 

1871 Founding date after Funk’s purchase of the Prairie Street lot in 1870 and the building of a small church. Funk, Summers, Keagy, Brenneman, Wenger, and Blosser were names of the ten charter members. John F. Funk was minister. The first Sunday school in Elkhart County was founded here in the same year.

 

1882 Mennonite Evangelizing Committee formed; forerunner of Mennonite Board of Missions.

 

1894 Elkhart Institute founded, later to become Goshen College. It was not a project of the church, but it was located across the street and Prairie Street members were deeply involved.

 

1895 Prairie Street Cemetery was established.

 

1898 First overseas Mennonite missionaries appointed in this church; to India.

 

1900 First known sewing circle in Indiana-Michigan conference founded. Other innovations of the 1880s and 1890s: Mennonite Aid Plan (1882), evangelistic meetings, children’s meetings (1882).

 

1910 John E Hartzler became pastor until 1913 when he became president of Goshen College.

 

1914 William B. Weaver became pastor, serving until 1920.

 

1920 Mennonite Central Committee formed at a meeting held in the church.

 

1923 Jonas S. Hartzler became pastor, serving until 1940, with John E. Gingerich as his associate from 1933-1940. From 1920-1923 the aging John Funk and Samuel Yoder joined area bishop J.K. Bixler in interim pastoral leadership.

 

1923 First summer Bible school organized.

 

1929 Belmont Sunday school and then church established, growing from 20 to 100 within a year.

 

1931 Church building largely destroyed by fire; rebuilt and the first service held in the new sanctuary in late 1933.

 

1936 Pleasant View Mennonite Church established in an empty church purchased for one dollar, and rebuilt.

 

1940 John E. Gingerich became pastor (formerly the associate), serving until 1953.

 

1950 Roselawn Mennonite Church established as the third church planting by Prairie Street in 21 years.

 

1953 J.B. Shenk became the first fully supported pastor, serving until 1957.

 

1958 Howard Zehr became pastor until 1964 when he left to become General Secretary of South Central Mennonite Conference.

 

1960 The newly expanded and renovated building was dedicated.

 

1965 Russell Krabill became pastor, serving until 1977, after which he took a sabbatical at seminary and then the pastorate at Holdeman Mennonite Church.

 

1969 Elkhart Community Day Care Center established in the church basement where it remained until it moved to a new facility in 1981.

 

1978 Phil Bedsworth became pastor until he left for Hesston College in 1984.

 

1985 Charles Cooper was pastor until 1988 when Dorsa Mishler again served as interim pastor with seminary student Clair Hochstetler as preacher.

 

1990 Harold and Ruth Yoder served as co-pastors until 1995 (Ruth) and 1996 (Harold).

 

1996 The 125th anniversary celebration of the founding of Prairie Street.

 

Selective membership figures indicate times of growth and adjustment: 90 in 1905, 210 in 1915, 350 in 1940, 290 in 1955, 370 in 1975, and 230 in 1995.

Sources: The Prairie Street Mennonite Church Story: 1871-1996 by Dorsa J. Mishler and Russell Krabill, editor John Bender; and 100 Years: Prairie Street Mennonite Church, 1871-1941.
Note Author: Wilbur Birkey





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