Bethesda Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA) of Henderson, York County, Nebraska, is a member of the Central Plains Conference (formerly Northern District Conference), with a membership of 998 in 1953. Thirty-five families from the Molotschna Colony, South Russia, had arrived at the immigrant house erected by the Burlington Railroad company one mile east of the present site of Henderson on 14 October 1874. By 1880 the group had grown to about 80 families. A large boulder was erected in 1937 on the original site to mark the place of the immigrant house. Names of the family heads arriving in 1874 were Mrs. Johann Abrahams, Gerhard Abrahams, Peter Abrahams, Heinrich C. Epp, Rev. Heinrich Epp, Johann Epp, Mrs. Johann Fast, Jacob Fast, Jacob Friesen, Johann Friesen, Cornelius Funk, Abraham Heinrichs, Jacob Janzen, Johann Janzen, Peter Lender, Absolom Martins, Benjamin Nachtigal, Jacob Nachtigal, Heinrich Pankratz, Sr., Heinrich Pankratz, Jr., Peter Pankratz, Heinrich Penner, Peter Penner, Gerhard Petker, Benjamin Ratzlaff, Franz Spenst, Mrs. Johann Sperling, Gerhard Toews, Johann Voth, Tobias Voth, Cornelius Wall, Jacob Wall, Peter Wall, Cornelius Warkentin, Peter Wolf.
Two ministers, Heinrich Epp and Benjamin Ratzlaff, came with the first group. Ratzlaff died 30 October 1874. In the spring of 1875 two other ministers, Isaac Peters and Gerhard Epp, arrived. Isaac Peters had been elder of the Mennonite congregation at Pordenau, Molotschna settlement, Russia, from 1867 until 1874, when he emigrated to America with the smaller portion of the Pordenau congregation. Insisting upon stricter requirements for a separated life as an evidence of regeneration than the majority of the membership were willing to agree to, he withdrew in 1880 with a considerable number of members to form the Ebenezer Mennonite Church, which (with the Aaron Wall group at Mountain Lake, Minnesota) became one of the two founding congregations of the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Conference.
In 1880 a church was built two miles (three km) northeast of the present site of Henderson. In 1906 this church was sold and dismantled, and a new one built in Henderson, which was enlarged in 1931, but was destroyed by fire before completion. Immediately the building of a new church was undertaken; it had a seating capacity of about 1,350. It was dedicated 6 March 1932. A new church building was dedicated in 1958 and an educational building was dedicated in 1964.
Originally feetwashing was practiced at the communion service, but was discontinued in 1939. The first reed organ was used about 1915; a pipe organ was installed in 1968. Discipline for transgression was still required by confession in the 1950s. The Sunday-school enrollment in 1953 was 1105. Young people's meetings, prayer meetings, mission societies, and choirs were organized in the church. German services were discontinued in the early 1940s. Ministers who have served the church are listed in Additional Information.
In 1893 the first Sunday school was held. In 1902 a parochial school was built, which functioned until 1943. In 1904 John H. Epp was ordained as the first missionary from this church to serve among the Indians in Oklahoma. In 1915 Peter J. Boehr was ordained as missionary to China. In 1949 a parsonage was built.
Bethesda Mennonite Church. "Bethesda Mennonite Church Chronology." August 2008. http://www.telcoweb.net/bethesda/history.html (15 August 2009)
Address: 930 16th Street, Henderson, Nebraska 68371-0130
Website: Bethesda Mennonite Church
Table 1: Bethesda Mennonite Church Pastoral Leaders
|Peter J. Friesen||1883-1909|
|H. H. Epp||1883-1924|
|Peter H. Pankratz||1891-1933|
|F. G. Pankratz||1908-1910|
|H. D. Epp||1908-d. 1970|
|Johann F. Epp||1916-1934|
|A. W. Friesen||1916-1947|
|Johann F. Epp||1947-1948|
|John Thiessen, Interim||1950/1963|
|J. R. Duerksen||1956-1958|
|Bernard Ratzlaff||1959 Summer|
|Walter H. Dyck||1965-1971|
|Mahendra Kumer||1975 Summer|
|Russell L. Mast||1977-1979|
|Ward W. Shelly||1979-1982|
|Albert H. Epp||1981-1990|
|Jason Martin, Interim||1990-1992|
|John L. Yoder-Schrock||1992-1999|
|Rachel Friesen, Interim||2007-2008|
|James Joel Voth||2008-|
Table 2: Bethesda Mennonite Church Membership
|Author(s)||Abraham W Friesen|
|Date Published||August 2009|
Cite This Article
Friesen, Abraham W and Sam Steiner. "Bethesda Mennonite Church (Henderson, Nebraska, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. August 2009. Web. 9 Mar 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bethesda_Mennonite_Church_(Henderson,_Nebraska,_USA)&oldid=91097.
Friesen, Abraham W and Sam Steiner. (August 2009). Bethesda Mennonite Church (Henderson, Nebraska, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 9 March 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bethesda_Mennonite_Church_(Henderson,_Nebraska,_USA)&oldid=91097.
Herald Press website.
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