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Bethel Mennonite Community Church (Mennonite Church USA) of Chicago, Illinois, is located at 14th Place and Laflin Street. It was started in 1944 as a project among the African American people by the Mission Board of the Illinois Mennonite Conference. Under the leadership of Lester Hershey, Walter Yordy and James and Rowena Lark, a successful Bible school was held in the summer of 1944. That August the workers organized the congregation.

James H. Lark was asked to take charge; he in 1946 he was ordained a minister and in 1956 a bishop. He was the first African American minister and bishop in the Mennonite Church. The total membership in 1953 of Bethel, together with that of Dearborn Street Mission (an outpost at 1808 Dearborn Street), was 53 exclusive of workers. A fire in the building where the congregation met meant a new facility was required; the new building was dedicated in September 1954.



Smith, Willard. Mennonites in Illinois. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1983: 427-430.

Additional Information

Address: 1434 South Laflin, Chicago, Illinois


Denominational Affiliations:

Illinois Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA


Map:Bethel Mennonite Community Church (Chicago, Illinois)

Author(s) James H. Lark
Sam Steiner
Date Published August 2009

Cite This Article

MLA style

Lark, James H. and Sam Steiner. "Bethel Mennonite Community Church (Chicago, Illinois, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. August 2009. Web. 25 Jun 2017.,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=75531.

APA style

Lark, James H. and Sam Steiner. (August 2009). Bethel Mennonite Community Church (Chicago, Illinois, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 June 2017, from,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=75531.

Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 310-311. All rights reserved.

©1996-2017 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.