Sugar Creek Mennonite Church

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Location: Wayland, Iowamap
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Sugar Creek Mennonite Church

1852-53 Church organized during this time, now known as Sugar Creek Mennonite Church. The church was organized by Bishop Joseph Goldsmith of Lee County, Iowa

1855 Joseph Goldsmith moved to Henry County and assumed bishop responsibilities. Joseph Wittrig, a minister, moved into the community from Canada.

1855-61 Christian Bechler ordained minister; Peter Tschantz ordained deacon and John Von Gunden ordained minister during this time.

1863 Joseph K. Roth ordained deacon.

1864 Amish Mennonite Ministers Meeting at the Elmer Graber barn, N.E. of Wayland.

1866 Eicher withdrew from the group that later was called Sugar Creek.

1867 Joseph Schlegel ordained bishop.

1869 Sebastian Gerig ordained minister.

1871 First church built.

1872 First Sunday School organized for the summer months.

1876 Bishop Joseph Goldsmith died.

1877 Stephen Miller moved to the community and served as deacon.

1879 Sebastian Gerig ordained bishop when Joseph Schlegel moved to Nebraska. Stephen Miller ordained minister.

1882 Martin Eicher ordained deacon.

1887 Christian R. Gerig ordained deacon. He was the last deacon to be ordained at Sugar Creek. Western Amish Mennonite Conference held at the Sugar Creek Church.

1889 Christian R. Gerig ordained minister.

1890 Average summer Sunday School attendance 118; Jacob Koebel, superintendent, and Daniel Graber, assistant.

1891 Decided at annual business meeting to build a larger building for the growing church. Second church built during the summer and dedicated October 21; Christian Warey from Johnson County and Jacob Swartzendruber of Iowa County were guest speakers.

1892 Stephen Miller appointed Iowa representative to the Mennonite Mission Board.

1893 Western Amish Mennonite Conference held at the Sugar Creek Church. Stephen Miller died as a result of a train accident near Morning Sun, Iowa, while on his way to a meeting of the Mission Board in Elkhart, Indiana. Daniel Graber ordained minister on April 16.

1898 Western District Amish Mennonite Conference held at Sugar Creek.

1903 Western District Conference held at Sugar Creek Church.

1904 Christian R. Gerig moved to Oregon. Bishop John Wagler moved to the community from Germany and served as minister. First Bible Conference held at Sugar Creek during the holiday week.

1908 Simon Gingerich ordained minister. The 1908 building was built and dedicated on December 25; C. Z. Yoder from Wooster, Ohio, and Samuel Graber of Tremont, Illinois, were guest speakers.

1910 Sewing Circle organized; Mrs. Daniel Orendorff was president.

1912 Last meeting of Amish Mennonite ministers held at Sugar Creek.

1916 Simon Gingerich was ordained bishop by vote of the congregation. First series of evangelistic meetings for ten days with C. F. Derstine as evangelist. Electricity added to the Sugar Creek Church. First church record established with 380 members.

1918 During World War I years no German preaching was allowed by order of Local Defense Board of Henry County. After the war C. L. Graber and Fred Swartzendruber served in relief work abroad.

1920 Church membership 392.

1921 Amish and Old Mennonite Conferences merged. Amish was then dropped from the name of Sugar Creek Church.

1922 C. L. Graber was ordained minister.

1923 Primary rooms for the Sunday School provided in the basement. Adult Department used the annex. Iowa-Nebraska Conference held at the Sugar Creek Church.

1924 Sebastian Gerig died on April 3. C. L. Graber resigned as minister of the church to become business manager of Goshen College.

1925 J. D. Graber was ordained on July 19 as minister at Sugar Creek to serve on the India mission field. Church membership 422. First Missionary Day observed before the Grabers departed for India.

1927 Simon Gingerich and family moved to La Junta, Colorado, during the summer months for daughter Mildred's health.

1928 Ellis Zook was ordained to the ministry in February.

1930 Church membership 468. Minister Daniel Graber died.

1932 Iowa-Nebraska Conference held at Sugar Creek Church.

1933 Ellis Zook resigned as minister of the church.

1935 Church membership 483. Primary rooms in the basement enlarged. Church library was started. Winter Bible School held at Sugar Creek Church for six weeks. Willard Leichty ordained minister by vote of the congregation.

1937 First Daily Vacation Bible School held.

1938 Side balconies built in the church. Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities annual meeting at the Sugar Creek Church.

1940 Church membership 542. 1943 GMSA (Junior Sewing Circle) organized.

1945 Delegate session of the Iowa-Nebraska Conference held at Sugar Creek Church. Church membership 553. After World War II: Galen Widmer, Grace Augsburger, Wilma Graber Nelson, and Maynard Widmer served in relief work abroad. August 5: Russell Krabill ordained, Locust Grove Mennonite Church, Elkhart, Indiana.

1947 Evening WMSC organized. 1949 Because of crowded conditions, it was decided to build another place of worship rather than to enlarge or build a larger building. Bethel Church built during the summer and fall months. Sugar Creek Church remodeled. December 18, Vernon Roth and Vernon Gerig ordained as ministers. Although Bethel became a separate congregation, the MYF stayed together as one organization.

1950 Church membership 559. Bethel Church dedicated January 22, 1950 with C. L. and J. D. Graber as guest speakers. Arnold Roth leaves for PAX. Since 1950 John Wenger, Norman Leichty, Gerald Freyenberger, and Norman Unternahrer also served in PAX.

1951 Began holding services at Pleasant Point, S.W. of Oakland Mills as an out post. Maynard Wyse ordained deacon at Lockport Mennonite, Archbold, Ohio.

1952 Church membership 606 before membership was divided into two congregations. After: Sugar Creek membership 471; Bethel membership 135. February, annual meeting of Mennonite Publishing Board. Murray Krabill ordained at Mt. Gilead (Ohio) Mennonite Church.

1954 Men's Brotherhood organized.

1955 Church membership 455.

1957 October 20 at Sugar Creek and October 27 at Bethel, Simon Gingerich delegated all bishop responsibilities in the two churches to Vernon Gerig. Iowa-Nebraska Conference held at the Sugar Creek Church. Fellowship Center built and completed in time for Iowa-Nebraska Conference in August. First Church Bulletin printed.

1958 Vernon Roth accepted the call to pastor the newly organized Eureka Mennonite Church. Pleasant View Church at Mt. Pleasant organized. Glen Richard licenses to serve as pastor.

1959 Willard Leichty was released to serve as pastor at the Bethel Church and on November 8 was ordained bishop of the church. September 22 Henry County deeded the cemetery to the Sugar Creek Church. Church voted to join five other local Mennonite churches to build a home for the elderly. Named Parkview Home and dedicated on October 1, 1961. Arnold Roth ordained at Short Mennonite Church, Shipshewana, Indiana.

1960 Church membership 398.

1961 January 29: Glen Richard was ordained minister at Pleasant View Mennonite Church. Parkview Retirement Home built.

1962 December 30: Robert Hartzler ordained as minister.

1964 Voted to write a church constitution, discussed forming a church council, getting a piano, forming a Cemetery Fund. Ira Wenger ordained deacon at Bethel Mennonite.

1965 Church membership 403.

1966 James Wenger began serving in Japan under the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities. Voted to start Building Fund for a new church. Discussed families sitting together and wedding rings.

1967 Adopted a constitution which provided for three lay elders and church council of department heads, secretary, treasurer, Elders and Pastor.

1969 Robert Hartzler resigned at Sugar Creek effective June 1. Iowa-Nebraska Conference held at Sugar Creek Church. Ted Widmer, Dan Eigsti, Donald Rensberger, and Dick Meyer began service assignments abroad (Africa).

1970 Church membership 395. Joan Gerig and Stan Freyenberger began service assignments abroad (Africa).

1971 Brother Simon Gingerich died March 7, 1971. Sugar Creek Mennonite Church has centennial. Orie L. Roth installed as pastor in July. First full-time salaried pastor. Vernon and Mabel Gerig served a VS assignment in Mission Board house in Elkhart and VS unit in Amarillo, Texas. Rosetta Unternahrer served in VS at Winston-Salem, NC and later as a trainee in Switzerland. Phyllis Krabill served with MCC in Akron, PA and later in Poland until 1983. Willard Conrad ordained by Russell Krabill at Holdeman Mennonite Church, Wakarusa, Indiana. J. D. Graber preached for this ordination.

1972 Robert and Karen Meyer served under MCC in Brazil. Larry and Violet Graber were trainees in Germany and Switzerland. Dr. and Mrs. J. G. Widmer, Short Term Medical Service, Nazareth, Ethiopia.

1974 First piano placed in church.

1975 Orie and Ina Roth were given a trip to Africa from Sugar Creek Church to visit their son Dennis with MCC in Africa, returning home by way of the Holy Lands. Scott Wyse began three and one half year MCC assignment in Brazil as an agricultural advisor and later a six month assignment in the Caribbean Island of Dominica. Church membership 363.

1976 Lo family, refugees from Southeast Asia, jointly sponsored by Sugar Creek.

1977 Steve and Nancy Reschly went to West Germany as trainees. Voted to buy an organ.

1978 James Wenger ordained, Shalom Mennonite Church, Tuscon, AZ. Gail Fisher licenses, Minister of Christian Education and Youth at Metamora, IL. Sugar Creek voted to build a new building. Sugar Creek voted to have a youth minister.

1979 Beth Gerig began Teachers Abroad program under MCC in Africa. Norman and Hortensiz Unternahrer worked under MCC in Bolivia as Agricultural Advisor. Carmen Freyenberger began VS assignment at Children's Haven International., Reynosa, Mexico. Orie L. Roth was given a leave of absence from January to March. Carl Smeltzer was interim pastor. Land for new church donated by Lloyd Peterson.

1980 Church membership 354. Orie L. Roth resigned effective June 1980. The Board of Elders kept the pulpit supplied. Gail Roth ordained for evangelism in Youth for Christ. Edmond Miller called to pastor Sugar Creek in November. Crooked Creek Christian Camp began. First Iowa Mennonite Central Committee Relief Sale.

1981 Many members attended General Conference at Bowling Green, Ohio. "The Advent Story" written by Wendy Miller was presented at Christmas time.

1982 Lynn and Susan Lehman began a teaching assignment under MCC in Egypt. Congregational Student Aid started. A Passion Play, "He Is Risen," written by Pauline Wyse, was given at Easter time by the Young Adults. Steven Reschly licenses as Minister at Cedar Falls Mennonite Fellowship. Discussed building plans for new church.

1983 Sew and Serve Girls organization dissolved. Many members attended Bethlehem '83 in Lehigh, PA. 1984 Scott Roth becomes associate pastor in New Paris, Indiana. On June 3 we had Groundbreaking Service for our new church building.

1985 Church membership 362. Ames '85 General Conference adopted Ten Year Goals. "And They Left Their Nets" written by Wendy Miller resulted in the study course planned by the elders and pastor and was studied by some classes for one quarter. MYF Vice President removed from Church Council. First part-time church secretary.

1986 Church membership 355. Laotian church members from Des Moines Mennonite spent a Sunday worship service with us. Curt Wenger began an MCC assignment in Bangladesh as agricultural advisor. Commission Service for Stand and Jane Freyenberger before leaving on a MCC assignment to Nepal. First services in the new church building on Sunday morning, July 20. October 10: Old church building auctioned. November 2: Dedication of new church.

1987 Hosted Iowa-Nebraska Conference. November: Wes and Sue Richard ordained, Church of the Brethren, Lima, Ohio. 1

988 Farewell for former pastor Vernon and Mabel Gerig. Pastor Ed Miller and family leave for Elkhart, IN. Cement driveway in cemetery. GMSA discontinued. Murray Krabill came as interim pastor. Holly Blosser Yoder to Zambia.

1989 April: Murray Krabill leaves. April 16: Dean Swartzendruber installed as pastor. First woman elder, Arlene Wenger, installed. September: voted to look for associate pastor. David Boshart ordained at Pleasant View Mennonite Church, Mt. Pleasant, IA. July: Pete Sutter licenses, Northeast Mennonite Fellowship, Pensacola, Florida.

1990 Sept. 1: Ruben Chupp installed as pastor. Sept. 17: Final payment made on new church building. Church membership 332. Men of Crusader's Sunday School class hosted Mother's Day Breakfast for all women of the church.

1991 May: Acoustic tile added to ceiling of Fellowship Hall. Church membership 341. Discussed new hymnals. Youth Advocate program begun.

1992 June: Primetimers organized for persons over 60 years of age. August: Ruben Chupp ordained as pastor.

1993 August: Dean Swartzendruber resigned. September: Roger Farmer installed as co-pastor.

1994 Heather Blosser to Kenya. Market Place 29AD used for Bible School program. "Hymnal, a Worship Book" purchased from Mennonite Publishing House.

1995 26 MYFers travel to Wichita, KS for Mennonite Church Youth Convention. August: Roger Farmer ordained as pastor. September: Ruben Chupp begins four month sabbatical. Placed large cross in front of sanctuary. Church membership 332. David Johnson, Goshen College student, three-month internship. John Schrock licenses at Peoria (IL) North Mennonite Church.

1996 Church membership 337. Sugar Creek adopted a new church constitution. September: Sunday School opening discontinued. Wendy Miller licenses as Campus Pastor at Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

1997 Mark Miller licenses at Lockport Mennonite Church, Lockport, Ohio. Heidi Miller Yoder commissioned at Immanuel Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, VA. 125th anniversary of first church building. Susanna Unternahrer started a 2 year VS assignment. 29 members over 80 were listed in the bulletin. Membership 336.

1998 Selected members to pray for each week and listed them in the bulletin. Anita Swartzendruber went on a mission trip to Mexico. 12 members went to Guatemala on a service trip with congregational support. Persons who went were: Mark Boshart, Bruce Eichelberger, Jo Eichelberger, Roger Farmer, Larry Graber, Phil Graber, Tim Graber, Jim Hooley, Marion Reschly, Doug Roth, Daniel Unternahrer, and Norman Unternahrer. Started support of Gerald Neufeld, a missionary to Japan. Pastor Farmer on sabbatical from August to December. MDS regional meeting held at Sugar Creek. Membership 351.

1999 Pastors protest local law officers carrying side arms at a funeral. Jim Hooley's went to China on a mission trip. MYF went to convention at St. Louis. Membership 350.

2000 Heather Blosser returned from Kenya. Sunday School started at 9:15 a.m. to allow for a time of fellowship between services. Sugar Creek hosted community Songfest. Ruben Chupp resigned pastorate as of August 31. Pictorial directory was published. Grant Nebel accepts part time pastorate at Washington Mennonite. Membership 350.

2001 Iowa-Nebraska Conference discontinued and congregation becomes part of Central Plains Mennonite Conference. MYF went to Mennonite Church Assembly at Nashville. Troy Graber went to Europe in an MCC Trainee project. Evening Mennonite Women discontinued. Dennis and Joyce Kuhns accept pastorate at Green Mound Church of God. A response was printed in the bulletin on the 9-11 attack on the twin towers. Membership 337.

2002 Sugar Creek helped host Central Plains Conference at Iowa Wesleyan. John Schrock ordained minister at Bluffton, Ohio. Roger Farmer resigns effective January 12, 2003. Pam Unruh accepts call to co-pastor at Wayland Mennonite. Membership 329.

2003 Sharon Wyse Miller accepted as interim pastor until June. Missionary Gerald and Rie Neufeld visit church community. Robert Hartzler to begin a 12 month interim pastorate. A candidating weekend is planned for November 21 for Nathan and Rachelle Luitjens.


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