Bethany Mennonite Church (Freeman, South Dakota, USA)

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Bethany Mennonite Church, Freeman, South Dakota (Central Plains Mennonite Conference began in 1896 when area Mennonite churches began a Sunday school in the town of Freeman. The Sunday school intended to minister to Mennonite and Hutterite families who lived in town and did not have ready access to the rural churches. The Sunday school met in the public school building until a meetinghouse was constructed in 1898 to serve both Sunday school and worship.

Ministers from area churches provided preaching services until 1902. These ministers were Christian Kaufman, Christian Mueller, Joseph Kaufman, and John L. Wipf. In 1902, H. A. Bachman came to work at Freeman Junior College and assumed pastoral leadership in the town group that was still linked to the Salem-Zion Church. On 1 May 1905, the group began to organize as an independent congregation. It accepted a new constitution on 6 August 1905. The congregation joined the General Conference Mennonite Church and Northern District Conference in September 1905 and June 1906, respectively.

The original church was remodeled and enlarged in 1925 and was used until a fire on Sunday morning, 4 November 1945, destroyed it. The congregation subsequently worshiped in the Freeman Junior College chapel, awaiting a new building, which was completed and dedicated in 1952.

By the 1950s, the congregation featured a choir, the Women's Missionary Society, a Young Peoples Society, and Intermediate Endeavor. It later became very involved in the local Et Cetera Shoppe.

Because of its location, Bethany always had a close connection to Freeman Junior College until it closed.

In 2023 the congregation was part of the Central Plains Conference of Mennonite Church USA.

Bibliography

Schmidt, Diena, ed. The Northern District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church 1891-1991. Freeman, S.D.: The Conference, 1991: 146-147.

Additional Information

Address: 509 South Juniper Street, Freeman, South Dakota 57029

Phone: 605-925-7311

Website: Bethany Mennonite Church

Denominational Affiliations:

Central Plains Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at Bethany Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Henry A. "H. A." Bachman (1868-1920) 1902-1915
John M. "J. M." Regier (1885-1960) 1915-1918
Elmer Basinger (1882-1958) 1918-1920
1924-1927
John C. Peters (1871-1964) 1920-1922
Samuel P. "S. P." Preheim (1881-1952) 1922-1923
Paul P. "P. P." Kleinsasser (1877-1972) 1923-1924
David E. Harder (1872-1930) 1927-1930
Walter A. Gering (1908-1996) 1932-1937
Harold H. Gross (1914-1980) 1937-1938
Louis H. Linscheid (1903-1985) 1938-1945
Hugo J. Mierau (1916-1972) 1945-1951
Lester Hostetler (1892-1989) 1952-1957
William G. Unrau (1921-2022) 1958-1968
Levi H. Koehn (1920-1983) 1968-1975
Charles D. Asche 1975-1978
Ernest W. Neufeld (1932-2015) 1978-1982
George E. Leppert 1982-1988
Earl F. Cater 1988-1995?
Randall L. Tschetter 1995-2011?
Shane Van Meveren 2012-

Membership at Bethany Mennonite Church

Year Membership
1911 62
1930 160
1940 187
1950 255
1960 355
1970 397
1980 356
1990 282
2000 239
2009 222
2020 187

Maps

Map:Bethany Mennonite Church (Freeman, South Dakota)

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Harold H. Gross. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 303. All rights reserved.

Bethany Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA) of 509 South Juniper Street, Freeman, South Dakota (Central Plains Mennonite Conference (formerly Northern District Conference), was founded by members or descendants of Swiss Mennonite and non-colonist Hutterite groups within and surrounding the municipality of Freeman.

The actual organization of the congregation grew out of a concern for the spiritual welfare of Mennonite and Hutterite families living within the town of Freeman, to whom the advantage of congregational fellowship in the surrounding rural churches was not easily accessible. A Sunday-school fellowship had already been functioning in town since about 1896. In the summer of 1898 the first meetinghouse, a frame structure, was built. This group was served from the pulpit alternately by Christian Kaufman, Christian Mueller, Joseph Kaufman, John L. Wipf, and H. A. Bachman, until 27 August 1905 when the first officers were inducted. The congregation joined the General Conference Mennonite Church and Northern District Conference in September 1905 and June 1906 respectively.

The original church was remodeled and enlarged in 1925, and was used until the fire of Sunday morning, 4 November 1945, which destroyed it. The congregation subsequently worshiped in the Freeman Junior College chapel, awaiting a new building, which was completed and dedicated in 1952.

The congregation was now quite cosmopolitan in membership, a part being of non-Mennonite extraction. A majority of the members were townfolk—of various occupations in a town of nearly a thousand population in 1953 (1,317 in 2000). A few still resided on nearby farms.

The roster of Bethany’s full-time and part-time ministers to 1953 included the names of H. A. Bachman, J. M. Regier, Elmer Basinger, John C. Peters, S. P. Preheim, P. P. Kleinsasser, David E. Harder, P. N. Hiebert, Walter A. Gering, Harold H. Gross, Louis Linscheid, and Hugo Mierau. Lester Hostetler was the minister in 1953; membership in 1953 was 287.


Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published March 2023

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Bethany Mennonite Church (Freeman, South Dakota, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2023. Web. 29 Nov 2023. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bethany_Mennonite_Church_(Freeman,_South_Dakota,_USA)&oldid=175327.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (March 2023). Bethany Mennonite Church (Freeman, South Dakota, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 November 2023, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bethany_Mennonite_Church_(Freeman,_South_Dakota,_USA)&oldid=175327.




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