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During the World War II era, young adults from larger congregations in the Franconia Mennonite Conference felt God’s call to pioneer church planting in a non-Mennonite area. Ambler, a suburban community 15 miles north of the city of Philadelphia, became the site of a mission resulting from this new missionary zeal.

Abram Godshall, John Ruth, Samuel Landis, Lauretta Walter, and others began holding Sunday school classes in 1952 on Sunday afternoons in an alley garage on Center Street, Ambler. They solicited help from the Franconia Mission Board, but a representative who attended a service reported that the children were too unruly to warrant further assistance.

In a few years, the group outgrew the small garage, so Abram Godshall purchased a house on Tennis Avenue, rented it to Paul and Esther Long, a newly-wed Mennonite couple from Harleysville, and opened the doors on Sunday mornings for a growing house church. “Workers” (as they were called) regularly travelled the 15 miles to Ambler from the Souderton/Franconia area to teach Sunday school and Summer Bible School classes, hold street meetings, and gather for weekday “cottage meetings” (a rural term for meeting in homes for singing, Bible study, and prayer).

Ambler Mennonite Church, 2012.
The upstart congregation caught the attention of the Franconia Mission Board once again, this time with a positive response. Norman Hunsberger of Souderton was called and ordained to pastor the young congregation in 1958, so he and his family moved to Euclid Avenue in Ambler.

The house church continued to grow, due mainly to the friendship of Norman and his wife Mary with Burnes and Lillian Rose, an African-American couple from Rieffs Mill Road in Ambler. Norman and Burnes would roam the streets of the town, making friends and inviting them to church activities. Other faithful workers were Shirley Sell, Floyd and Gladys Kulp, Abram and Edith Allebach, Henry and Sara Kulp, Vernon and Miriam Derstine, Naomi Moyer, and Betty Allebach.

In 1961, the Franconia Mission Board authorized the construction of a new meetinghouse on a parcel of ground owned by Abram Godshall, located on the corner of Mount Pleasant Avenue and North Spring Garden Street. The congregation continued to worship, witness, and serve the surrounding community from this location in 2012.

From its origin as a program attractive primarily to children, church growth was fuelled by several other sources – persons from the surrounding community looking for the personal relationships provided by a small church setting, adults and their families wanting a more progressive approach to church life and ministry, college and graduate students choosing to worship in a Mennonite congregation during years of study in Philadelphia, and members of larger churches in Franconia Conference who wanted to exercise their gifts more actively in congregational worship and service.

Over the years, the congregation has been blessed by capable leadership and a gifted laity. Resources have been invested in people and programs rather than buildings. Young pastors have started their life-long church vocations in this affirming group of believers. Women in leadership, both pastoral and lay, have been the norm for many years. Key church issues have been processed with fervor but without serious division. The congregation has remained faithful to its Anabaptist-Mennonite heritage while welcoming a rich ethnic diversity – Caucasian, African-American, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern, and others.

In 2013 the congregation was a diverse suburban fellowship with an average attendance of 65 for Sunday morning worship. Organizationally, the congregation was a member of Franconia Mennonite Conference, Mennonite Church USA, African-American Mennonite Association, and the local Wissahickon Faith Community.

Additional Information

Address: 90 East Mount Pleasant Ave., Ambler, PA 19002

Phone: 215-643-4876

Websitehttp://www.amblermennonitechurch.org/

Denominational Affiliations:

Franconia Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Ambler Mennonite Church Pastors

Name Years of Service
Norman Hunsberger  1955-1965 
Gerald Benner  1965-1972 
John Ehst  1972-1979 
Barry Loop  1979-1990 
Susan Loop  1988-1990 
Joseph Haines  1991-1998 
Melvin Thomas  1998-2002 
Michael Schaadt (Interim)  2002-2003 
Sharon Wyse Miller  2003-2009 
Donna Merow  2009- 

Ambler Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1955  17 
1960  25 
1965  27 
1970  34 
1975  51 
1980  62 
1985  88 
1990  61 
1995  52 
2000  82 
2005  91 
2010  65 

Maps

Map:Ambler Mennonite Church (Ambler, Pennsylvania)


Author(s) Gerald A Benner
Date Published December 2012


Cite This Article

MLA style

Benner, Gerald A. "Ambler Mennonite Church (Ambler, Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. December 2012. Web. 25 Jul 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ambler_Mennonite_Church_(Ambler,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=94039.

APA style

Benner, Gerald A. (December 2012). Ambler Mennonite Church (Ambler, Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 July 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ambler_Mennonite_Church_(Ambler,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=94039.




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