Oak Grove Mennonite Church (Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio, USA)

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Oak Grove Mennonite Church, Smithville OH
Source: Church website

Oak Grove Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church and General Conference Mennonite), located near Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio, is probably the oldest Mennonite congregation of Amish background in the state. The first settlers came to the area about 1817 from Somerset and Mifflin counties, PA, and organized a congregation in 1818, meeting in homes for worship. Other families of Swiss Mennonite background came directly from Switzerland and Alsace-Lorraine. Early bishops were David Zook, Christian Schantz, Jacob Yoder, assisted by ministers Christian Brandt, Christian Naftzinger, Peter Blough, Solomon Zook, and deacons Jacob King and Jacob Troyer.

The first meetinghouse (frame) was built in 1862, and a second (Pleasant Hill) in 1881 to accommodate members in the northern part of the district. In 1905 the Oak Grove meetinghouse was replaced by the large frame structure used by the present congregation.

The early congregation was a member of the Amish General Conference and Eastern Amish Mennonite Conference, and until 1947 of the Ohio and Eastern Amish Mennonite Conference. Since 1947 Pleasant Hill has been a separate congregation, still under the Ohio and Eastern Mennonite Conference, while Oak Grove continued independent until 1970 when it became an early dually affiliated congregation in the Ohio and Eastern Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church and the Central District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church. Under able and progressive leadership the varied background of the Oak Grove congregation led to a fused polity, highly active congregational interest and participation in higher education, missions, and the broader program of the church at large. Though a rural church, less than half the members (numbering 400 in January 1958) were actively employed in agriculture. The bishop was Jacob S. Gerig, with Virgil M. Gerig minister with full pastoral authority in the local congregation.

Other leaders serving earlier in addition to the above were John K. Yoder and Benjamin Gerig (bishops), C. K. Yoder, Jonathan Smucker, Christian Kureth (Conrad), John Smiley, Isaac Miller, D. Z. Yoder, S. K. Plank, David Hostetler, Stephen Miller, C. Z. Yoder, Peter Conrad, Albert Hartzler, P. R. Lantz, Peter Baumgartner, J. N. Smucker, Wm. G. Detweiler, Elmer Meyer (ministers and deacons).


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. 3, 282.

Lehman, James O. Creative Congregationalism: the History of the Oak Grove Mennonite Church in Wayne County, Ohio. Smithville, OH: The Church, 1978.

"Oak Grove Mennonite Church." Wikipedia. 21 June 2013. Web. 1 December 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_Grove_Mennonite_Church.

"Oak Grove Mennonite Church, 2007: Oak Grove History." Oak Grove Mennonite Church. 2007. Web. 1 December 2013. http://oakgrovemc.org/about/history/.

Umble, John S. Ohio Mennonite Sunday Schools.  Goshen, IN: Mennonite Historical Society, 1941: 209-231.

Additional Information

Address: 7843 Smucker Road, Smithville, OH 44677 (coordinates: 40.85863, -81.83148 [N 40 51' 31" W 81 49' 53"])

Phone: 330-669-2697

Website: http://oakgrovemc.org/

Oak Grove Mennonite Church Leading Ministers

Minister Years of Service
Christian Brandt 1818-1866
David Zook
Peter Schrock  ?-1846
Solomon Zook  ?-1870
Peter Nafziger  ?-1841
John Fertenwald 1831-1849
Joseph Frey
Hannes Yoder  ?-1850
Emmanuel Hochstetler 1855-1862
Jacob Yoder 1850-1858
Peter Blough 1855-?
Christian Nafziger 1844-1864
Christian Schantz
John K. Yoder 1855-1906
Christian Conrad 1859-1890
Christian K. Yoder 1861-1871
Jonathon Smucker 1861-1887
John Smiley 1866-1878
D. Z. Yoder 1872-1929
David Hostetler 1880-1889
Isaac Miller 1891-1894
Benjamin Gerig 1895-1913
J. S. Gerig 1896-1925
C. Z. Yoder 1904-1930s
Peter R. Lantz 1909-1927
Jesse N. Smucker 1931-1936
William G. Detweiler 1938-1947
Virgil O. Gerig 1947-1960
Robert Otto 1960-1965
Lotus Troyer 1965-1971
Peter Wiebe 1972-1984
Jim Schrag 1985-1994
Dennis Schmidt 1994-1996
Norma Duerkson 1993-2008
Will Shertzer 2008-2009
Doug Zehr 2009-present


Map:Oak Grove Mennonite Church, Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio, USA

Author(s) Virgil M Gerig
Date Published 1958

Cite This Article

MLA style

Gerig, Virgil M. "Oak Grove Mennonite Church (Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1958. Web. 21 May 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Oak_Grove_Mennonite_Church_(Smithville,_Wayne_County,_Ohio,_USA)&oldid=104506.

APA style

Gerig, Virgil M. (1958). Oak Grove Mennonite Church (Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Oak_Grove_Mennonite_Church_(Smithville,_Wayne_County,_Ohio,_USA)&oldid=104506.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1-2. All rights reserved.

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