Bethany Church of God in Christ, Mennonite (River Styx, Ohio, USA)

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The small village of River Styx was between Wadsworth and Medina in Medina County, Ohio, USA, and had a Wadsworth address. This was about 25 miles from Chester Township, Wayne County, where John Holdeman had lived.

In 1831 a group moved to the River Styx area by covered wagon from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Some of their names were Martin Shaum, Polly Beam, Sarah Leatherman, and the Jacob F. Leatherman family. Martin Overholt had come a few years earlier. Minister Abraham Rohrer, who baptized John Holdeman and with whom John Holdeman had communication at the time of his separation from the Mennonite Church (MC), came to the area in 1832 and helped organize a church. He was the first Mennonite bishop in Medina County, and he is buried in the Lower Mennonite Cemetery.

This congregation likely began about 1860 when Eli Fretz separated from the Old Mennonite Church and united with John Holdeman and the newly formed church. John Holdeman wrote about this man in History of the Church of God. Fretz was accepted into the church without rebaptism since he was baptized before the separation occurred in 1859.

In 1870 an issue arose within the church because some felt that people who believed they had the remission of sins and had received a blessing at the time of their baptism in another group could become members without being rebaptized. Henry Leatherman and others had to wait for a time before coming into the church until the church settled this matter. They had been baptized into the Old Mennonite Church after John Holdeman had separated. In 1874 the matter was settled. The new Church of God in Christ, Mennonite decided that no baptism administered upon division was valid. Therefore, no baptism administered by the Old Mennonites after their rejection of and opposition to the newly formed church was valid. Henry Leatherman, after baptism, was ordained to the ministry in 1879. They worshiped in homes during this period of time. When Henry Leatherman died in 1900, it left the group at River Styx without a minister.

The June 1907 Messenger of Truth reports the death of Samuel Leatherman. In August of the same year, Isaac. N. Mastre reported on a trip to Medina County, Ohio, where they had four meetings. Bro. Jacob Leatherman from Kansas was present also. News items in the old Messengers through 1911 mention various visits to the church in Medina County.

It is not clear, but the congregation may not have chosen the name Bethany for their church name until after some families moved into the area in the 1920s.

It is not certain if the congregation conducted any regular services from 1900 to 1925. From the book The Mennonite Cemeteries of Medina County with a Brief Historical Sketch of the Church, we find this account: "In [John Holdeman's] early visiting ministry he undoubtedly came to Medina County, where he got a small following. Among these was Henry O. Leatherman, who was ordained to the Holdeman ministry in 1879 and whose family became the core of the local congregation. Leatherman's death occurred in the same year as did Holdeman's, and the little flock had difficulty to hold its own in the next 25 years. In 1925 Christian Buerge and his family moved to Medina County from Michigan, where he had been ordained to the ministry. His arrival brought new hope and life to the congregation. They began meeting in the town hall at River Styx and in the former Methodist church, which they hoped to buy. When they were outbid, they bought instead the abandoned red brick schoolhouse located on Diagonal Road close to the present Friends Church. With only about twenty members in the fellowship, the death of two or three made a very marked difference as did the moving of one or two families to other locations. When the remaining remnant decided to put the building up for sale, two of the Leatherman children bought it, hoping that in time another minister would come to their aid and find a meeting house ready. After their death, however, a granddaughter resignedly sold it to someone who remodeled it into a private dwelling."

The Arthur Buerges were the last members living there, and they later became a part of the Rock of Ages congregation in Wayne County.


Histories of the congregations. 3rd. ed. Moundridge, Kansas: Gospel Publishers, 1999: 429-432.

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By P. G. Hiebert. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 345. All rights reserved.

Riverstix Church of God in Christ Mennonite Church, now extinct, located at Riverstix, Medina County, Ohio, was organized in 1871 with 6 members; services were held in homes. Later the membership increased to 18 and services were held in schools, one of which was later purchased for a church building. Henry Leatherman, who was ordained in 1879, and Sam Leatherman were their first ministers. Later C. G. Buerge served as pastor for many years. The congregation dissolved by members moving away. It ceased to exist about 1943.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published February 2021

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Bethany Church of God in Christ, Mennonite (River Styx, Ohio, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2021. Web. 29 Nov 2023.,_Mennonite_(River_Styx,_Ohio,_USA)&oldid=170173.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (February 2021). Bethany Church of God in Christ, Mennonite (River Styx, Ohio, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 November 2023, from,_Mennonite_(River_Styx,_Ohio,_USA)&oldid=170173.

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