Bethlehem Mennonite Church (Bloomfield, Montana, USA)

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The first Mennonite settlers in the Bloomfield, Montana area arrived on Christmas Day, 1906. They were Chris and Joe Buller, along with brother-in-law Gerald Boese. Other families soon joined them.

In 1908, Fred A. Buller became superintendent of the first Sunday school, held in the Red Top School in Adams, Montana. In 1910 as the group increased, it began to worship in Fred Buller's barn. Because they worshiped in a barn, they called themselves Bethlehem, a name that persisted even after fire destroyed the barn. H. A. Bachmann of Freeman Junior College helped the congregation organize in July 1910.

In 1912 the congregation built a sanctuary on land donated by the Phillips Land Company of Glendive, Montana. In 1950/51, it built a new church building. The church was located 10 miles northeast of Bloomfield, Montana.

Bethlehem Mennonite called Peter P. Tschetter as its first minister. The second minister was John M. Franz, who was nearly lynched in April 1918 during World War I. He then spent several days in jail before being exonerated of pro-German sympathies.

A parsonage built in 1915 burned in the spring of 1943. Another house was moved to the church property.

Bethlehem Mennonite Church joined the Northern District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church in 1913. It established the First Mennonite Church of Glendive in 1947.

As part of the realignment of the Mennonite Church (MC) and General Conference Mennonite Church into Mennonite Church USA, Bethlehem Mennonite moved to the North Central Conference of the Mennonite Church in 2000. That conference withdrew from Mennonite Church USA in 2015 and dissolved as a conference in 2017. Bethlehem Mennonite appeared to leave the North Central Conference prior to its withdrawal and dissolution.

Bethlehem Mennonite Church closed in 2018.


Schmidt, Diena, ed. The Northern District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church 1891-1991. Freeman, S.D.: The Conference, 1991: 74-76.

Tieszen, Esther. "This church was born in a barn." The Mennonite 104, no. 23 (12 December 1989): 560.

Additional Information

Address: 183 Road 516, Bloomfield, Montana



Denominational Affiliations: Northern District Conference

General Conference Mennonite Church

Pastoral Leaders at Bethlehem Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Visiting Ministers 1910-1913
Peter P. Tschetter (1886-1976) 1913-1915
John M. Franz (1884-1971) 1916-1919
John Baergen (1896-1978) 1923-1926
John Peters (Interim) 1926
David D. Schultz 1926-1927
Abraham P. Unruh 1927-1928
Jacob F. Sawatzky (1882-1966) 1928-1938
Herbert E. Widmer (1899-1990) 1939-1943
George G. Dick (1908-1995) 1943-1955
Bruno Penner (Interim) 1955
Ervin A. Albrecht 1956-1965
Vernon Lohrentz 1965-1970
Nick Dick 1970-1975
John W. Arn (1939-2015) 1975-1981
Don Freeman (Interim) 1981-1982
Jonas Beachy (Interim) 1982-1983
Dennis Webber 1982-1989
Patrick J. McFarren 1989-2000
Darrell A. Nefzger 2000-2018?

Bethlehem Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1910 23
1930 186
1940 204
1950 186
1960 138
1970 113
1980 104
1990 85
2000 74
2009 72


Map:Bethlehem Mennonite Church (Bloomfield, Montana)

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By George G. Dick. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 317-318. All rights reserved.

Bethlehem Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA), Bloomfield, Dawson County, Montana, is a member of the Northern District Conference with a membership of 157 in 1953. A group of Low-German Mennonites originally from Karolswalde, Poland, coming here from Avon, South Dakota, in 1906 and a group of Swiss Volhynian Mennonites coming from Freeman, South Dakota in 1910, were organized into a church in 1910 by H. A. Bachman of Freeman. A third group from Marion and Dalton, South Dakota, of Low-German background, moved into the community in 1910 and joined the congregation in 1911. The 1950s-era church was dedicated in the spring of 1951. Pastors who had served the church to that time were P. P. Tschetter, 1913-1915; John M. Franz, 1916-1919 and 1921-1923; John Baergen, 1923-1926; David D. Schultz (lay minister), 1926-1927; Abe P. Unruh, 1927-1928; Jacob Sawatzky, 1928-1938; Herbert Widmer, 1939-1943; and George G. Dick, 1943- .

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published August 2023

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Bethlehem Mennonite Church (Bloomfield, Montana, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. August 2023. Web. 29 Nov 2023.,_Montana,_USA)&oldid=177450.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (August 2023). Bethlehem Mennonite Church (Bloomfield, Montana, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 November 2023, from,_Montana,_USA)&oldid=177450.

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