The Iowa-Nebraska Conference came into being in 1920 as a result of a merger of the Western Amish Mennonite Conference and the Mennonite Conference west of Indiana. All congregations belonging to the above-named conferences within the states of Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota, and one congregation located at Thurman, Colorado (16 in all), were designated as one section or district and formed into the new conference.
The Merger Committee also appointed the following executive committee, whose duty it was to arrange for the first meeting of the new conference: S. C. Yoder, D. G. Lapp, J. E. Zimmerman, P. J. Blosser, C. J. Garber, and Simon Gingerich (Lapp, Blosser, and Garber represented the Mennonites; Yoder, Zimmerman, and Gingerich the Amish Mennonites). The first session of the conference was held at the Lower Deer Creek Church, Kalona, Iowa, on 14-15 September 1921. Officers of the conference elected were: Moderator, S. C. Yoder; Asst. Moderator, D. G. Lapp; Secretary, Simon Gingerich; Asst. Secretary, Allen Good (a guest from Carstairs, Alberta). Bishop J. S. Shoemaker, Dakota, Illiois (also a guest), preached the conference sermon. Committees were appointed to draft constitutions for the conference and the mission board to be presented at the next regular meeting. Several revisions and reprints have been authorized, the latest of which bore the date of 1949.
The preamble of the constitution stated the object of conference in the following words: "For the purpose of promoting the cause of Christ and unifying and strengthening the church in our field." The constitution provided that all regularly ordained bishops, ministers, and deacons who were in full fellowship in their respective congregations in the district would be members of conference. The first report of congregations to the conference listed 15 congregations reporting (one having failed to report) a total membership of 2,924; bishops 7; ministers 29; deacons 13. The 1955 report listed the membership as being 4,386; bishops 12; ministers 36; deacons 16.
J. D. Graber and wife were the first from the conference to enter the foreign mission field. In 1955 there were missionaries from this district in Puerto Rico, South America, India, and Japan. The Iowa City Mission was opened in 1927. A number of congregations sponsored Sunday schools and preaching points in the outlying districts. Young men and young women from this district have worked with the Mennonite Central Committee in the homeland and in the foreign fields.
The Iowa-Nebraska School Committee was organized by the conference in 1944 and a high school launched in 1945 with Silas Horst, South English, Iowa, as principal. The school was known as the Iowa Mennonite School, and is located near Kalona. Its initial enrollment was 38, and in 1955 writing it was approximately 176. It offers a full four-year high-school course together with a high-school Bible course. Members from this district have also been found on the faculties of Goshen College, Hesston College and Bible School, and the Mennonite Nurses Training School. -- Simon Gingerich
The Iowa-Nebraska Mennonite Conference, formed in 1920 by a merger of the Western Amish Mennonite Conference and the Mennonite Conference west of Indiana, in 1987 had 1 congregation in Colorado, 1 in South Dakota, 2 in Minnesota, 2 in Illinois, 13 in Nebraska and 21 in Iowa. These 40 congregations had a total membership in 1986 of 4,707. Eight of these congregations were started within the preceding eight years, the most recent being a church planting effort in Burlington, Iowa, begun in the spring of 1987.
Congregations, not individuals, could become members of conference by subscribing to four criteria as stated in the bylaws adopted 1 August 1980. The delegate body was comprised of one delegate per 75 members of a congregation or fraction thereof plus all active licensed and ordained leaders of member congregations. In addition all members of Conference Council, the mission board executive committee, conference hoards, and the executive committee of the Women's Missionary and Service Commission were members. There were four clusters of congregations in geographical proximity that met together periodically for mutual upbuilding.
A "Congregation In Partnership" program, which paired larger and smaller congregations together for mutual caring, sharing, and fellowship, was established in 1985. The Iowa-Nebraska Mission Board was an incorporated entity comprising the entire delegate body of the conference. Its purpose is to promote and assist in establishing, supporting, and directing new church planting ventures. The Challenge, the official conference paper is published 10 times each year. -- Emory Hochstetler
In 2001 the Iowa-Nebraska Mennonite Conference merged with the Northern District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church to form the Central Plains Mennonite Conference as part of the new Mennonite Church USA.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 438.
Horsch, James E., ed. Mennonite Yearbook and Directory. Scottdale: Mennonite Publishing House 1988-89: 63-64.
Cite This Article
Gingerich, Simon and Emory Hochstetler. "Iowa-Nebraska Mennonite Conference (Mennonite Church)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 23 May 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Iowa-Nebraska_Mennonite_Conference_(Mennonite_Church)&oldid=101734.
Gingerich, Simon and Emory Hochstetler. (1987). Iowa-Nebraska Mennonite Conference (Mennonite Church). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Iowa-Nebraska_Mennonite_Conference_(Mennonite_Church)&oldid=101734.
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