Bethel Church (Wayland, Iowa, USA)

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The vision for Bethel Church, Wayland, Iowa, began in 1948 when the Sugar Creek Mennonite Church reached the physical limits of its building. At its annual meeting on 3 January 1949, the congregation appointed three persons to survey the congregation and community to identify a place to build another church. Glen Wenger donated land three miles north of Wayland, where the new building was constructed. The congregation dedicated the new building on 29 January 1950, and 135 members transferred from Sugar Creek to Bethel. Most of these members lived north of the Wayland railroad tracks. Bethel became part of the Iowa-Nebraska Conference of the Mennonite Church (MC).

Sugar Creek and Bethel shared four ministers on a "round robin" basis until 1953. When Vernon Gerig was ordained as bishop to assist Simon Gingerich, Willard Leichty became the minister for Sugar Creek, and Vernon Roth the minister for Bethel. When Roth left for the new Eureka congregation, Leichty became Bethel's pastor. He was ordained as bishop on 8 November 1959.

In the 1970s, Bethel's pastor, Richard Wenger, was close to the charismatic renewal movement that greatly influenced the Mennonite church in North America. He had personally experienced charismatic renewal while a student at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. A portion of the congregation supported this movement.

On 29 August 2015, the Bethel Mennonite Church voted to leave the Central Plains Conference of Mennonite Church USA. In the following years, it changed its name to Bethel Church.


Sugar Creek Mennonite Church 1871-1971: Centennial year of original building. Wayland, Iowa: The Church, 1971.

Yoder, Holly Blosser. The same spirit: History of Iowa-Nebraska Mennonites. Freeman, S.D.: Central Plains Mennonite Conference, 2003: 156, 221-222, 269.

Additional Information

Address: 3185 Wayland Road, Wayland, Iowa

Phone: 319-256-8531

Website: Bethel Mennonite Church

Denominational Affiliations:

Pastoral Leaders at Bethel Church

Name Years
of Service
Simon Gingerich (1882-1971)(Bishop)(with Sugar Creek) 1950-1959
Vernon E. Roth (1909-1992)(with Sugar Creek) 1950-1958
Vernon S. Gerig (1907-1988)(with Sugar Creek)
Willard R. Leichty (1906-1988)(with Sugar Creek)
Richard Wenger 1970-1976
Oliver O. Yutzy (1934-2021) 1976-1985
Kenneth F. Steckly (1939-2021) 1986?-1993
Herbert L. Yoder (1929-2021)(Interim) 1993-1994
Duane Roth 1994-1996?
Phil L. Slabaugh 1996-2010
Brad Gillis 2011-2014
Scott Johnson (Interim) 2014-2015
Curt Kuhns 2015-
Nathan Grieser (Youth) 2022?-

Membership at Bethel Church

Year Membership
1950 135
1960 175
1970 205
1980 203
1990 194
2000 170
2009 215

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Lester B. Krabill. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 313. All rights reserved.

The Bethel Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA) is located 3 ½ miles (5 km) north of Wayland in Washington County, Iowa. The church was dedicated 29 January 1950. The meetinghouse was built to accommodate the expanding Sugar Creek Church, near Wayland. Four ministers served it and the Sugar Creek Church jointly for several years. In 1951 the membership attending the Bethel Church totaled 130.

1959 Willard Leichty was released from Sugar Creek Mennonite Church to serve as pastor at the Bethel Church and on 8 November of that year he was ordained as bishop of the church.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published March 2023

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Bethel Church (Wayland, Iowa, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2023. Web. 23 Jun 2024.,_Iowa,_USA)&oldid=176267.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (March 2023). Bethel Church (Wayland, Iowa, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 June 2024, from,_Iowa,_USA)&oldid=176267.

©1996-2024 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.