Beachy, Alvin J. (1913-1986)

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Alvin J. Beachy teaching at Bethel College in 1973.
Mennonite Library and Archives photo #2020-0001

Alvin J. Beachy was born 9 July 1913 near Salisbury, Pennsylvania, USA, the 11th child of Bishop Moses M. Beachy (3 December 1874-7 July 1946) and Lucy Miller Beachy (20 February 1876-25 November 1927). His father, originally Old Order Amish, founded the Beachy Amish Mennonite Church. Alvin married Vera Bernice Clouse (30 September 1913-12 July 1999) on 2 September 1942. Vera was the daughter of Charles Edgar Clouse (28 June 1891-15 December 1966) and Hazel Stump Clouse (13 November 1895-October 1983). Alvin and Vera had two daughters, Brenda (Ray), born 1947, and Debra, born 1951. Alvin died 27 May 1986. Alvin and Vera Beachy are buried in the Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church Cemetery, Inman, Kansas.

Alvin attended the Messiah Academy for two years, and completed his high school studies in 1938 at age 24. He enrolled at Bluffton College in 1939 and completed his bachelors degree in 1943 (he actually completed his final course work at Illinois State Normal School, having moved to Illinois to accept a pastorate). From 1946 to 1949 he continued his studies at Hartford Theology Seminary, completing his BD degree with honors in 1949. He continued working on his master’s thesis at Hartford, completing his STM degree there in 1952. His thesis examined the Amish community in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. In 1956 Alvin chose to continue his education and enrolled in Harvard Divinity School, from which he received his ThD in June, 1961. His dissertation was on the concept of grace in the radical reformation.

While still a student at Bluffton College, Alvin began to serve his first congregation, the First Mennonite Church, Normal, Illinois, 1942-46. While at Hartford Seminary he pastored two congregational churches: Canton Center Congregational Church, Canton Center, Connecticut, 1946-49 and Bolton Center Congregational Church, Bolton Center, Connecticut, 1949-50. While completing his masters thesis at Hartford, he moved to Ohio and became pastor of the First Mennonite Church, Bluffton, 1950-56; and returned to the congregational fold while at Harvard, ministering to the First Congregational Church, Somerville, Massachusetts, 1956-60. His final pastorate was at the Zion Mennonite Church, Souderton, Pennsylvania, 1960-68.

In 1968 Alvin joined the faculty at Bethel College, teaching religion and theology, and worked at Bethel until his retirement in 1978. He had earlier taught briefly at Bluffton College in 1953 and summer, 1965. Beachy was also active in various denominational and community groups. He spent a sabbatical year teaching at Eastern Mennonite College in the mid-1970s.

A number of articles by Beachy were published in the Mennonite Quarterly Review and Mennonite Life, and he edited the book, Worship as Celebration of Covenant and Incarnation. His dissertation on the Concept of Grace in the Radical Reformation was also published.


"Alvin J Beachy." Find a Grave. 22 December 2010. Web. 11 February 2020.

"Former Bible prof. dies in Kansas." Mennonite Weekly Review (5 June 1986): 6. Web.,_Alvin_J._(1913-1986).

Major Publications by Alvin Beachy

Beachy, Alvin J. "The Amish settlement in Somerset County, Pennsylvania." Mennonite Quarterly Review 28 (October 1954): 263-292.

_____. "The rise and development of the Beachy Amish Mennonite churches." Mennonite Quarterly Review 29 (April 1955): 118-140.

_____. "The grace of God in Christ as understood by five major Anabaptist writers." Mennonite Quarterly Review 37 (January 1963): 5-33.

_____. "The Bible and the Reformation." Mennonite Life 19 (April 1964): 84-89.

_____. "The theology and practice of Anabaptist worship." Mennonite Quarterly Review 40 (July 1966): 163-178.

_____. Worship as celebration of covenant and incarnation. Newton, Kan.: Faith and Life Press, 1968. 73 pp.

_____. "Biblical basis for civil disobedience." Mennonite Life 25 (January 1970): 6-11.

_____. "A case study in civil disobedience: Pilgram Marbeck." Mennonite Life 25 (January 1970): 12-15.

_____. The concept of grace in the radical reformation. Nieuwkoop : De Graaf, 1977. 238 pp.

Philips, Dirk. The writings of Dirk Philips, 1504-1568, translated and edited by Cornelius J. Dyck, William E. Keeney, [and] Alvin J. Beachy. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1992.


Alvin J. Beachy Papers, 1893-2000 Papers, 1946-1968. MS.266, Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas.

Author(s) David A Haury
Date Published February 2020

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MLA style

Haury, David A. "Beachy, Alvin J. (1913-1986)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2020. Web. 27 Jan 2021.,_Alvin_J._(1913-1986)&oldid=166572.

APA style

Haury, David A. (February 2020). Beachy, Alvin J. (1913-1986). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 January 2021, from,_Alvin_J._(1913-1986)&oldid=166572.

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