Amstutz, Lester Dale (1922-2010)

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Lester Dale Amstutz: conservative minister and bishop, was born 2 February 1922 near Dalton, Ohio, USA to Daniel Fred Amstutz (10 February 1900-15 January 1983) and Eva Malinda Gerber Amstutz (21 July 1900-28 January 1981). Lester was the oldest child in a family of five sons. On 17 August 1941 he married Caroline Nussbaum (6 March 1918-25 April 2006), daughter of Jacob Nussbaum (14 June 1886-25 April 1969) and Lydia Steiner Nussbaum (28 September 1891-22 December 1955). Lester and Caroline had three daughters: Rhoda, Arlene and Esther. Lester Amstutz died 27 January 2010 at the home of his nephew, James Amstutz. Lester and Caroline were buried in the Bethel Mennonite Church cemetery, Orrville, Ohio.

Lester Amstutz grew up on the family farm in Sugarcreek, Ohio. He had an 8th grade education in the local public schools. He was baptized into the Sonnenberg Mennonite Church near Kidron. In 1944 Lester was drafted and served in Civilian Public Service at Luray, Virginia. He was ordained by lot for the ministry at Sonnenberg on 23 July 1950. In 1952 the Sonnenberg congregation, which had previously been independent, voted to seek membership in the Virginia Mennonite Conference. Lester Amstutz and fellow minister Jacob Neuenschwander did not agree with this decision, and asked to be relieved of their ministerial responsibilities. This request was honored on 15 June 1952; the Virginia Conference accepted the Sonnenberg congregation as a member on 21 July 1952.

The small group that left with Amstutz and Neuenschwander met for worship in a schoolhouse, and sometimes worshiped with the County Line Mennonite Church, a Wisler Mennonite congregation. On 3 November 1953 Lester Amstutz was ordained as bishop for the congregation. Jacob Neuenschwander and several others joined County Line, leaving Amstutz as the sole ordained leader of what became the independent Bethel Mennonite Church.

In 1959 Lester Amstutz began to actively work with leaders and congregations who were dissatisfied with the theological direction of the Mennonite Church (MC). He helped to organize the Franconia Conservative Mennonite Church near Souderton, Pennsylvania. He worked closely with Eli Kramer and others in helping to establish what became Nationwide Fellowship congregations.

Lester Amstutz led and assisted in many ordinations, and served on numerous Bible conference programs. He was recognized for his stability and good judgement, but he did not do a lot of writing, perhaps because of his limited education.


"Bro. Lester D. Amstutz." Gospel Herald 43, no. 32 (8 August 1950): 788.

"Condensed report of the forty-second annual session of the Virginia Mennonite Conference." Gospel Herald 45, no. 43 (21 October 1952): 1059.

Ehst, John C. "Lester D. Amstutz (1922-2010)." The Historical Journal" 26, no. 1 (April 2020): 4.

"Lester Dale Amstutz." SAGA (Swiss Anabaptist Genealogical Association) Genealogical Website. Web. 3 June 2020.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published June 2020

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MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Amstutz, Lester Dale (1922-2010)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2020. Web. 21 Jun 2021.,_Lester_Dale_(1922-2010)&oldid=168252.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (June 2020). Amstutz, Lester Dale (1922-2010). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 June 2021, from,_Lester_Dale_(1922-2010)&oldid=168252.

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