History

Bethel Mennonite Church
Original (1870) and Current Buildings

In April of 1866 five families migrated to the state of Missouri from the settlement of “Sonnenberg,” in Wayne County, Ohio. Later in April of 1867 two more families moved to Missouri. The names of some of the first settlers here were: Lehman, Loganbill, Gerber, Aeschbacher, and Basinger. In 1869 the settlement consisted of 35 families with 70 members.Up until this time the new church was meeting in homes and schoolhouses, but they were in need of a larger building so it was decided to build a church. The first building was constructed in 1870. The present sanctuary was built in the years of 1908–1909. It has a seating capacity of 350 on the main floor and 150 in the balcony.

The early church lived, worshipped, and took communion together on the principle: “In the essentials, unity; in the non-essentials, liberty; in all charity.”

A Sunday School was started in 1867 to instruct the children in reading, writing and spelling, to sing with them, and to impress religious truths on their minds. In 1887 prayer meetings were started, and in 1895 a Young People’s society of Christian Endeavor was organized. Communion services were held twice a year.

A list of the ministers who served Bethel Church from the beginnings is as follows: Peter P. Lehman was the first minister, being elected in 1871, Rev. M.S. Moyer, Rev. D.D. King (the King family built a new house in 1905-06 and later the church bought it for a parsonage in 1919), John M. Regier, Rev. P.P. Hilty, Rev. J.D. Warkentin, Rev. C.H. Dirks, Rev. Jacob Unruh, Rev. Leonard Metzker, Rev. Howard Raid, Rev. E.A. Albrecht, Paul Hilty filled the pulpit when there was no resident pastor, Rev. Ernest Porzelius, Rev. Abraham Friesen, Russel Welty, Rev. Ralph Graber, Dr. Lloyd Penner, Ward Shelley, Rev. Bruno Penner, Rev. Tom Voth, and Rev. Dave Zapf.

Fellowship of Evangelical Churches