Sharon Mennonite Fellowship, in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, USA, worships in the Union Meeting House which is one of the oldest landmarks in Bethel Township. Situated on a direct commercial trade route from Philadelphia to Harrisburg and westward, great wagon trains followed the road which passes the meeting house.
On 23 April 1740, Rudy Hunsicker warranted 200 acres of land (then in Lancaster County) where the meeting house now stands. He received the patent for the land from Thomas and Richard Penn on 18 November 1748. Rudy Hunsicker gave a portion of this land for public use before his death in 1768. On 6 February 1738, Christian Brightbill warranted the land on the opposite corner of the crossroad and donated a portion of it for a cemetery. Always a separate property from the church, the cemetery contains the graves of many pioneer settlers from the 1700s and is still in use.
The first building on the site was a schoolhouse that was also used for preaching and funerals in the 1700s and early 1800s. It was replaced in 1859 with the first Union Meeting House known as Wolf's Union Meeting House. The building was replaced in 1913 with the present structure which measured 40-by-60 feet and had a full basement. Dedication services of the Wolf's Union Meeting House were held 30-31 August 1913, with ministers from several denominations sharing the pulpit.
The building had been unused for several years when its doors were once again opened for regular worship services on 13 February 1977 by the Sharon Mennonite Fellowship. The nucleus of the new congregation was about 12 families from the Myerstown Mennonite Church (Lancaster Conference) who desired Bishop Homer Bomberger's leadership. Among these families were Myerstown's minister, Aaron Bowman, and deacon, Paul Gingrich. Two families from the East Hanover Mennonite Church (Lancaster Conference) and their minister, Peter Smith, joined the new congregation. After Sharon was established, the three congregations under Homer Bomberger's leadership (New Haven, Fairhaven, and Sharon) were formally organized as the Mid-Atlantic Mennonite Fellowship (MAMF) in 1978.
Aaron Bowman was ordained as bishop on 25 February 1978 by Bishop Homer Bomberger for the Sharon and Fairhaven congregations. Council was favorable to receive two ministers, Cletus Doutrich and Ivan Weaver, from the Meckville Mennonite (Lancaster Conference) congregation. Four families from Meckville and several additional families from Myerstown also became part of the congregation.
In October 1979 the congregation decided the facilities were no longer adequate. A twenty-five-foot addition was erected on the west end, the pulpit was switched from the west to the east end, and carpet was installed. Rededication was held 31 August 1980, exactly 67 years from the date of the original dedication. Ammon Merkey, a minister from the Church of the Brethren who was also on the Union Meeting House Board at that time, brought the dedication message. The property is owned by the Wolf's Union Meeting House Board and can never be purchased by the Sharon congregation because of a stipulation in the deed. The Sharon congregation has entered a long-term lease agreement with the Union Meeting House Board. Three of the five men on the board are from the Sharon congregation.
Caleb Stauffer was ordained as deacon on 11 January, 1987 and approached retirement age in 2006. Kenton Martin was ordained on 16 March 2008 to assist Caleb. After Kenton's wife suffered a severe stroke in 2012, he requested help and Darin Martin was ordained on 22 December 2013.
Douglas Brubaker, a grandson of Bishop Aaron Bowman, was ordained as minister on 13 May 2001. Ray Zimmerman was ordained as minister on 7 November 2010.
As of 1 January 2013, Sharon had 110 members. The ministerial team at the beginning of the year consisted of Ivan Weaver, bishop; Douglas Brubaker and Ray Zimmerman, ministers; Caleb Stauffer and Kenton Martin, deacons.
In 2013, Douglas Brubaker accepted the call to lead in establishing a new congregation at Preston, Maryland. Several families from Sharon moved to Maryland in 2014.
Stauffer, Romaine, ed. Mid-Atlantic Mennonite Fellowship 1972-2013. Myerstown, Pa.: Little Mountain Printing, 2014.
Address: Union and Greble Rd., Lebanon, Pa. 17046
Denominational Affiliations: Mid-Atlantic Mennonite Fellowship
Sharon Mennonite Fellowship Pastoral Leaders
|Ivan Weaver (bishop)||1978-present|
|Date Published||July 2014|
Cite This Article
Stauffer, Romaine. "Sharon Mennonite Fellowship (Lebanon, Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2014. Web. 31 Jul 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Sharon_Mennonite_Fellowship_(Lebanon,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=123556.
Stauffer, Romaine. (July 2014). Sharon Mennonite Fellowship (Lebanon, Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 31 July 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Sharon_Mennonite_Fellowship_(Lebanon,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=123556.
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