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Benton Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana, 2012.
Photo by John Yoder; used with permission
.

Benton Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana began as a seed project of Clinton Frame Mennonite Church. Forty members attended the first Sunday service on 9 July 1944. Clinton Frame pastor Verle Hoffman preached at Benton until a full-time Benton pastor was chosen in 1948. On 5 September 1948, Benton Mennonite Church became an independent congregation with 53 members under the leadership of Galen Johns, a former Clinton Frame minister chosen by lot.

The Benton Mennonite Church building was expanded in 1950, with a raised church roof and new basement. A second Benton expansion took place in 1968, when the sanctuary was lengthened and a foyer, larger fellowship hall, and new Sunday School classes were added to the church. In 2011, the sanctuary was reversed and shortened, and a foyer, elevator, and accessible restroom were added to the main church level.

Benton Mennonite Church housed summer and winter Bible School, which were sometimes also held at Clinton Frame. A women's sewing circle called the "Benton Sunshine Sisters" formed in October, 1948. The women's group elected Edith Johns as leader and donated food and quilts to Mennonite Central Committee relief efforts. In December 1948, a formal youth group was entitled the "Christian Worker's Fellowship." Both the women's group and youth group often met in member homes. As Benton membership grew, limited space required creative solutions for church activities. From 1961 to 1965, there were not enough church rooms for Bible School, and children met at times in the Benton church hall, and even at the Benton two-room schoolhouse.

Benton Mennonite Church partnered with several outside organizations for mission work. From the 1950s until 1967, Benton led a monthly worship service and meal with Hope Rescue Mission, a men's homeless shelter. In the 1970s, Benton helped support elementary school Bible teachers in the nearby communities of Millersburg and New Paris. Benton supported international college students coming to Goshen supported mission workers overseas. In the 1980s, Koinonia groups formed to meet spiritual and social needs of congregants outside Sunday Services.

The 1990s were a time of structural change at Benton Mennonite Church. In 1992, Benton changed the leadership structure from a single pastor to a pastoral team, so that men and women with gifts in preaching, counseling, teaching, and outreach could work together in leadership. The first pastoral team was led by Galen Johns, Mildred Mumaw, and Jim Chupp. In 1993, the church was incorporated, and in 1994 a revised constitution emphasized that lay members should volunteer and lead committees, or "ministries", decisions should be made in groups, ministries should change based on yearly needs, and that pastors and committee groups need to communicate well and plan together to perform God's work.

Benton Mennonite Church composed a formal church worship booklet in 2009. Pastor Brenda Meyer and members Barbara Meyer-Reed and Lyn Buschert helped to revise and modify an informal booklet so that it included male and female imagery and terms for God. As of 2014, Benton Mennonite Church includes both four-part a capella singing and instrument accompaniment. As of 2014, Sunday services are followed by Sunday school and a noon congregational potlucks.

Benton Mennonite Church has participated in several environmental initiatives. Benton Mennonite Church participated in the Hoosier Riverwatch program from 2004 to 2014. Church members monitor Elkhart County water quality and clean the waterways once a year. In 2013, solar panels were installed on the Benton Mennonite Church roof. The solar panels were intended to decrease Benton's environmental footprint and long-term energy costs.

[edit] Bibliography

"About Us." Benton Mennonite Church. Web. 23 January 2014. http://www.bentonchurch.org.

"Benton Mennonite Church hosting dedication service for new solar panels." Elkhart Truth. 27 November 2013. Web. 23 January 2014. http://www.elkharttruth.com/faith/2013/09/14/Benton-Mennonite-Church-hosting-dedication-service-for-new-solar-panels.html.

Broni, Eudean, ed. "Nurturing for Service: Benton Mennonite Church 1944-1994." Unpublished essay, 1994.

Mennonite Yearbook and Directory. Mennonite Church USA.

[edit] Archival Records

The Archives of the congregation are located at the Mennonite Church USA Archives in Goshen, Indiana.

Membership and pastoral records are located at Benton Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana.

[edit] Additional Information

Address: 15350 County Road 44, Goshen, Indiana

Phone: 574-642-3245

Website: Benton Mennonite Church

Denominational Affiliations:

Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference (1944-present)

Mennonite Church (MC) (1944-2002)

Mennonite Church USA (2002-present)

[edit] Benton Mennonite Church Leading Ministers

Minister Years of Service
Verle Hoffman 1944-1948
Galen Johns 1948-1960
Amos Yontz 1948-1960
Menno Erb 1957-1958
Irvin Nussbaum 1960-1968
Ed Stoltzfus 1968-1969
Bill Shumaker 1969-1975
Etril Leinbach 1976-1979
Carl Kaufman 1977-1986
Laurence Horst 1985-1986
Arnold Roth 1986-1987
Dan Foley 1987-1990
Galen Johns, Jim Chupp, and Mildred Mumah 1992-1996
Brenda H. Meyer, Galen Johns, and Jim Chupp 1996-1999
Brenda H. Meyer and Doug Kaufman 2000-present

[edit] Benton Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1948 53
1950 56
1955 126
1960 149
1965 118
1970 107
1975 141
1980 154
1985 128
1990 112
1995 123
2000 91
2005 94
2010 89
2014 88

[edit] Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

The Benton Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA) is located at 15350 CR 44, Goshen, Elkhart County, Indiana., a congregation in the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference. It began as a mission Sunday school under the Clinton Frame Mennonite Church. The first service was held on 9 July 1944. On 5 September 1948 it was organized as a separate congregation with a charter membership of 53, in 1951 grown to 63. Galen Johns was the initial pastor.

Volume 1, p. 275 by Verle O. Hoffman.


Author(s) Nathan Geiser
Date Published March 2014


[edit] Cite This Article

MLA style

Geiser, Nathan. "Benton Mennonite Church (Goshen, Indiana, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2014. Web. 27 Nov 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Benton_Mennonite_Church_(Goshen,_Indiana,_USA)&oldid=117494.

APA style

Geiser, Nathan. (March 2014). Benton Mennonite Church (Goshen, Indiana, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 November 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Benton_Mennonite_Church_(Goshen,_Indiana,_USA)&oldid=117494.




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