Birney Mennonite Church (Birney, Montana, USA)

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In 1910 Peter A. and Katherine Kliewer moved to Birney, Montana, with their two children to develop a third Mennonite mission to the Cheyenne People. Initially, they lived in tents and in the facilities of a nearby government school.

The church was located eight miles (13 km) south of the town of Birney, Montana, Rosebud County, on the Tongue River Indian Reservation.

Frank Little Wolf, a police officer in Lame Deer, served as a lay minister in the congregation for 16 years. Milton White Man, also a police officer in Lame Deer, served as an evangelist based in Birney. During a preaching service, he suffered a stroke causing partial facial paralysis. Some in the community believed this to be punishment for accepting the Christian faith. He was later ordained as an Elder in Lame Deer.

Birney was part of a cluster of Northern Cheyenne Churches that also included Ashland Christian Fellowship, Lame Deer Mennonite Church, and the White River Cheyenne Mennonite Church.

By 1949, the total baptisms at Birney were 58, with a membership of 40 that year.

The church at Birney closed in 1983 due to a lack of funds and local membership. The church building burned in 1986. In 1987, the Northern Cheyenne Mennonite Churches turned the 80 acres used by the church back to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.


Schmidt, Diena, ed. The Northern District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church 1891-1991. Freeman, S.D.: The Conference, 1991: 94-96.

Additional Information

Address: Birney, Montana 59012



Denominational Affiliations: Northern District Conference

General Conference Mennonite Church

Missionaries and Pastoral Leaders at Birney Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Peter A. "P. A." (1879-1959) & Katherine Kliewer (1883-1963) 1910-1921
Alfred (1892-1956) & Barbara Habegger (1892-1977) 1919-1920
Ora June Brookover (1876-1968)? 1920-1921
Alfred Wiebe (1888-1973) 1921-1922
Otto B. Pankratz (1894-1975) 1922-1926
Frank Little Wolf (1877-1959) 1926-1942
Marie Buller (Miller)(1903-1983) 1940-1942
Milton (1884-1958) & Moheno White Man 1942-1947
William (1899-1971) & Maude Fighting Bear 1947-1950
Daniel (1908-1991) & Amy Schirmer (1904-1977) 1950-1961
Malcolm (1919-2003) & Esther Wenger (1922-2016) 1961-1966
Oliver Rising Sun (1900-1985) 1963-1964
Stamper White 1963-1964
James B. (1908-1992) & Julia Shoulderblade (1913-1973) 1966-1973
Jesse Castillo 1978-1980
Thomas & Jolene Gardner 1980-1982

Birney Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1950 40
1970 26
1980 26
1983 10

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Alfred Habegger. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 345. All rights reserved.

The Birney Mennonite Mission (General Conference Mennonite) among the North Cheyenne People was located eight miles (13 km) south of the town of Birney, Montana, Rosebud County, on the Tongue River Indian Reservation. This work was begun by P. A. Kliewer who was in charge until 1920. Habegger from Busby substituted in 1919-1920, while the Kliewers had a year's furlough. Other workers were Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Wiebe, 1921-1922; Otto B. Pankratz, 1923-1926; native pastor Frank Little Wolf, 1926-1942; and native pastor Milton White Man, 1942-1947. Alfred Habegger was then in charge, coming from Busby and then from Lame Deer during the week to minister to the people here. Up to 1949, the total baptisms were 58, with a membership of 40 that year.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published September 2023

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Birney Mennonite Church (Birney, Montana, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2023. Web. 29 Nov 2023.,_Montana,_USA)&oldid=177475.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (September 2023). Birney Mennonite Church (Birney, Montana, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 November 2023, from,_Montana,_USA)&oldid=177475.

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