Beldor Mennonite Church (Elkton, Virginia, USA)

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Beldor Mennonite Church, Elkton, Virginia, 2013
Photo by Elwood Yoder; used with permission.
Source: Mennonite Archives of Virginia
Comforters for MCC made by the church.
Congregational photo.

Beldor Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA) is located six miles (10 km) southeast of Elkton, Virginia. Mennonites first came to the area through the Young People’s Christian Association (YPCA) of Eastern Mennonite College. YPCA students held worship meetings on the streets of Elkton in 1935. At one Saturday night street meeting Ernie Shifflett asked the group to come to the Beldor area and have services in a church near his home. The Beldor community felt ownership of the building, owned by Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) at the time, because many community members had helped build it, but the EUB had stopped sending preachers. YPCA held services there through the school year, turning leadership over to the Middle District of Virginia Mennonite Conference.

John E. Kurtz was commissioned by the district in 1935 as the first itinerate preacher for the church and surrounding Blue Ridge area. He also preached at his Mutton Hollow and Temple Hill church plants. In the early years the congregation was known as Mt. Hebron Mennonite Church. (“Mt. Hebron" had been the EUB church name.) Kurtz organized revival meetings in 1940 and the first women were baptized in November 1940. Men were not baptized until 1947; it was slow going due to the Mennonite stance against military service. The church building was purchased in 1947 from the EUB for $500. In 1951 Harold Lehman became the first "church pastor." The church’s first year-around Bible school also began in 1951. The congregation changed its name to Beldor Mennonite Church in 1958.

The period of the 1960s-1980s saw much discussion within the Mennonite Church and at Beldor about proper activities and dress for believers. At stake was the sense of being a called-out people and resisting cultural norms versus fitting into the community for more effective outreach.

The church building was expanded on two occasions. A basement was dug out under the building to create Sunday school classrooms and a kitchen in 1954. The footprint of the building was expanded on both floors for additional classrooms and expanded fellowship hall in 1968-70. This remained its configuration in 2013.

For a small congregation of 30-40 people, Beldor has been very active in reaching out to its community. It has a well-defined local mission area, focusing on the Beldor Hollow and surrounding Elkton environs. Outreach methods are homegrown and sustainable by the members, including calling on the sick, bluegrass music concerts on the first Sunday evening each month, Fall Festival in September, an apple dumpling fundraiser in October, Thanksgiving meal open to the community, and substantial Christmas baskets. Beyond the local area, Beldor women regularly quilt comforters for Mennonite Central Committee and specific aid calls, assemble children’s Christmas boxes, and help with disaster relief. Beldor assembled and delivered over two tons of food, water, and bedding for Hurricane Sandy relief in 2012.

While visioning Beldor’s future, and recognizing their own strengths in “doing," the congregation desires spiritual growth. Beldor looks forward to the next 80 years as a worshiping body.


Åkerson, James. "It’s All Changed Now: Appreciating the History and Place of Beldor Mennonite Church, Elkton, Virginia (1935—2012)." Unpublished graduate paper, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, 2012.

Brunk, Harry A. History of Mennonites in Virginia: 1900-1960. Volume II. Verona, Va.: McClure Printing Company, Inc., 1972: 155-156.

Keeler, Richard. "History of the Beldor Mennonite Church.” Unpublished term paper, Menno Simons Historical Library, Eastern Mennonite University, 1959: 2-3.

Lahman, Evelyn. "Pleasant Thoughts of Beldor." Photo album, Beldor Mennonite Church Library.

Additional Information

Meetinghouse Address: 2512 Beldor Road, Elkton, Virginia

Phone: 540-421-4577

Denominational Affiliations:

Virginia Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Preachers/Pastors at Beldor Mennonite Church

Name Role Years of Service
John E. Kurtz Preacher 1935-1947
Harold H. Lahman Preacher 1947-1951
Harold H. Lahman Pastor* 1951-1955
E. Paul Good Pastor 1955-1961
Joseph D. Heatwole Pastor 1961-1963
Charles Heatwole (son) Pastor 1963-1969
Harold H. Lahman Pastor July 1969-September 1985
J. David Yoder Ass't Pastor 1976-April 1983
Robert Wenger Ass't Pastor June 1983-May 1984
Robert Wenger Co-Pastor June 1984-May 1985
Harold H. Lahman Ass't Pastor September 1985-November 1989
Robert Wenger Pastor June 1986-May 1993
Clyde Plum Ass't Pastor September 1991-March 1994
Clyde Plum Pastor March 1994-October 1997
Addona Nissley Interim Pastor November 1997-June 2000
Tom Mast Ass't Pastor March 2000-June 2000
Tom Mast Interim Pastor July 2000-December 2000
Addona Nissley Interim Pastor January 2001-April 2001
Jim Hershberger Pastor May 2001-August 2010
John Harding Pastoral Intern September 2008-April 2009
Marvin Kauffman Interim Pastor January 2010-April 2010
James Åkerson Pastor November 2010-Present

*Harold Lahman became a resident pastor in 1951. Harry Brunk reports Lahman said it was "hard to keep people warmed up" with an itinerant preaching set up. His request to be assigned as resident pastor was granted in 1951 by the district.

Beldor Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1975 41
1979 29
1983 45
1997 43
2000 43
2010 34


Map:Beldor Mennonite Church (Elkton, Virginia)

Original Article from Mennonite Encyclopedia

By Harry A. Brunk. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1064. All rights reserved.

The Beldor Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA), located in Rockingham County, Virginia, was started in 1935 in a former United Brethren Church found vacant by the Young People's Christian Association of Eastern Mennonite College. It was purchased by the Mennonites in 1947. In 1958 it had 18 members, with Paul Good as pastor.

Author(s) James Åkerson
Date Published September 2013

Cite This Article

MLA style

Åkerson, James. "Beldor Mennonite Church (Elkton, Virginia, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2013. Web. 26 Sep 2023.,_Virginia,_USA)&oldid=143130.

APA style

Åkerson, James. (September 2013). Beldor Mennonite Church (Elkton, Virginia, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 September 2023, from,_Virginia,_USA)&oldid=143130.

©1996-2023 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.