Beldor Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA) is located six miles (10 km) southeast of Elkton, Virginia. Mennonites first came to the area through the Young People’s Christian Association (YPCA) of Eastern Mennonite College. YPCA students held worship meetings on the streets of Elkton in 1935. At one Saturday night street meeting Ernie Shifflett asked the group to come to the Beldor area and have services in a church near his home. The Beldor community felt ownership of the building, owned by Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) at the time, because many community members had helped build it, but the EUB had stopped sending preachers. YPCA held services there through the school year, turning leadership over to the Middle District of Virginia Mennonite Conference.
John E. Kurtz was commissioned by the district in 1935 as the first itinerate preacher for the church and surrounding Blue Ridge area. He also preached at his Mutton Hollow and Temple Hill church plants. In the early years the congregation was known as Mt. Hebron Mennonite Church. (“Mt. Hebron" had been the EUB church name.) Kurtz organized revival meetings in 1940 and the first women were baptized in November 1940. Men were not baptized until 1947; it was slow going due to the Mennonite stance against military service. The church building was purchased in 1947 from the EUB for $500. In 1951 Harold Lehman became the first "church pastor." The church’s first year-around Bible school also began in 1951. The congregation changed its name to Beldor Mennonite Church in 1958.
The period of the 1960s-1980s saw much discussion within the Mennonite Church and at Beldor about proper activities and dress for believers. At stake was the sense of being a called-out people and resisting cultural norms versus fitting into the community for more effective outreach.
The church building was expanded on two occasions. A basement was dug out under the building to create Sunday school classrooms and a kitchen in 1954. The footprint of the building was expanded on both floors for additional classrooms and expanded fellowship hall in 1968-70. This remained its configuration in 2013.
For a small congregation of 30-40 people, Beldor has been very active in reaching out to its community. It has a well-defined local mission area, focusing on the Beldor Hollow and surrounding Elkton environs. Outreach methods are homegrown and sustainable by the members, including calling on the sick, bluegrass music concerts on the first Sunday evening each month, Fall Festival in September, an apple dumpling fundraiser in October, Thanksgiving meal open to the community, and substantial Christmas baskets. Beyond the local area, Beldor women regularly quilt comforters for Mennonite Central Committee and specific aid calls, assemble children’s Christmas boxes, and help with disaster relief. Beldor assembled and delivered over two tons of food, water, and bedding for Hurricane Sandy relief in 2012.
While visioning Beldor’s future, and recognizing their own strengths in “doing," the congregation desires spiritual growth. Beldor looks forward to the next 80 years as a worshiping body.
Åkerson, James. "It’s All Changed Now: Appreciating the History and Place of Beldor Mennonite Church, Elkton, Virginia (1935—2012)." Unpublished graduate paper, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, 2012.
Brunk, Harry A. History of Mennonites in Virginia: 1900-1960. Volume II. Verona, Va.: McClure Printing Company, Inc., 1972: 155-156.
Keeler, Richard. "History of the Beldor Mennonite Church.” Unpublished term paper, Menno Simons Historical Library, Eastern Mennonite University, 1959: 2-3.
Lahman, Evelyn. "Pleasant Thoughts of Beldor." Photo album, Beldor Mennonite Church Library.
Meetinghouse Address: 2512 Beldor Road, Elkton, Virginia
Preachers/Pastors at Beldor Mennonite Church
|Name||Role||Years of Service|
|John E. Kurtz||Preacher||1935-1947|
|Harold H. Lahman||Preacher||1947-1951|
|Harold H. Lahman||Pastor*||1951-1955|
|E. Paul Good||Pastor||1955-1961|
|Joseph D. Heatwole||Pastor||1961-1963|
|Charles Heatwole (son)||Pastor||1963-1969|
|Harold H. Lahman||Pastor||July 1969-September 1985|
|J. David Yoder||Ass't Pastor||1976-April 1983|
|Robert Wenger||Ass't Pastor||June 1983-May 1984|
|Robert Wenger||Co-Pastor||June 1984-May 1985|
|Harold H. Lahman||Ass't Pastor||September 1985-November 1989|
|Robert Wenger||Pastor||June 1986-May 1993|
|Clyde Plum||Ass't Pastor||September 1991-March 1994|
|Clyde Plum||Pastor||March 1994-October 1997|
|Addona Nissley||Interim Pastor||November 1997-June 2000|
|Tom Mast||Ass't Pastor||March 2000-June 2000|
|Tom Mast||Interim Pastor||July 2000-December 2000|
|Addona Nissley||Interim Pastor||January 2001-April 2001|
|Jim Hershberger||Pastor||May 2001-August 2010|
|John Harding||Pastoral Intern||September 2008-April 2009|
|Marvin Kauffman||Interim Pastor||January 2010-April 2010|
|James Åkerson||Pastor||November 2010-Present|
*Harold Lahman became a resident pastor in 1951. Harry Brunk reports Lahman said it was "hard to keep people warmed up" with an itinerant preaching set up. His request to be assigned as resident pastor was granted in 1951 by the district.
Beldor Mennonite Church Membership
Original Article from Mennonite Encyclopedia
By Harry A. Brunk. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1064. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
The Beldor Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA), located in Rockingham County, Virginia, was started in 1935 in a former United Brethren Church found vacant by the Young People's Christian Association of Eastern Mennonite College. It was purchased by the Mennonites in 1947. In 1958 it had 18 members, with Paul Good as pastor.
|Date Published||September 2013|
Cite This Article
Åkerson, James. "Beldor Mennonite Church (Elkton, Virginia, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2013. Web. 26 Apr 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Beldor_Mennonite_Church_(Elkton,_Virginia,_USA)&oldid=101509.
Åkerson, James. (September 2013). Beldor Mennonite Church (Elkton, Virginia, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 April 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Beldor_Mennonite_Church_(Elkton,_Virginia,_USA)&oldid=101509.
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