Bowne Mennonite Church (Clarksville, Michigan, USA)

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The Bowne Mennonite Church, near Clarksville, Michigan, was rooted in Mennonite settlers in Bowne Township, Kent County, who arrived in 1865 from Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and Ontario, Canada. In April 1866, John M. Brenneman of Elida, Ohio, visited Bowne Township and ordained Peter Keim as a minister, and Herman Bentler as a deacon. The congregation also bought an acre of land for a cemetery.

In 1867, John P. Speicher was ordained preacher, and in 1869 as a bishop. In 1870, the congregation decided to build a log meetinghouse together with local members of the Church of the Brethren. They shared the meetinghouse until 1879 when the Church of the Brethren built their own meetinghouse. In 1901, the Bowne congregation built a new frame meetinghouse.

In May 1881, John S. Coffman held his first protracted evangelistic meetings in the Mennonite church at Bowne.

On 29 March 1931, after several years without a resident minister, Tobias Schrock was ordained as Bowne's minister. He and his family had moved from the Goshen, Indiana, area only two weeks previously.

Bowne Mennonite theologically was on the more traditional side of the Mennonite Church (MC). In 1969, it hosted a meeting of ordained men to discuss the proliferation of jewelry, cut hair for women, "worldly wedding practices," and increasing social activism. Bowne Mennonite Church became one of several congregations to withdraw from the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference by 1973. For some years, it existed as an unaffiliated Mennonite Church. By 1980, it had joined the Conservative Mennonite Conference.


"Clarkesville, Michigan." Gospel Herald 25, no. 3 (16 April 1931): 56-57.

Preheim, Rich. In Pursuit of Faithfulness: Conviction, Conflict, and Compromise in Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference. Harrisonburg, Va.: Herald Press, 2016: 259-260, 308.

Wenger, John Christian. The Mennonites in Indiana and Michigan. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1961: 138-140.

Additional Information

Address: 4076 76th Street SE, Clarksville, Michigan 48815

Phone: 574-538-9326


Denominational Affiliations: Rosedale Network of Churches

Pastoral Leaders at Bowne Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Peter Keim (1836-1904) 1866-1904
John P. Speicher (1833-1894)
Isaac Weaver (1847-1917) 1891-1917
Aldus Brackbill (1863-1941) 1907-1928
Visiting Ministers 1928-1931
Tobias E. "Tobe" Schrock (1897-1980) 1931-1936
Daniel E. Zook (1907-1974) 1940-1974
Harry Schrock, Jr. (1929-2021) 1968-1974?
Ronald Yutzy 1975-1978?
Lavern J. Swartz 1978?-1984?
Edward Schrock 1981-2007?
Steve Swartz 1981-1984?
James L. Sutter 1987-2020?
Bryce Bontrager 2020-

Bowne Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1905 89
1913 101
1920 109
1930 93
1940 105
1950 109
1960 99
1970 77
1980 52
1990 39
2000 58
2011 40
2024 34

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Tobias E. Schrock. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 339. All rights reserved.

Bowne Mennonite Church (Conservative Mennonite Conference), located in Bowne Township, Kent County, Clarksville, Michigan, was originally a member of the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference. The earliest settlers arrived here from Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and Waterloo County, Ontario, in 1865. Public services were begun in the spring of 1866. During the year Peter Keim was ordained minister, and Herman Bender deacon, by J. M. Brenneman from Allen County, Ohio. In 1870 with the help of the Dunkards a log church house was built, which was used conjointly by both groups on alternate Sundays till 1879. In 1901 a frame structure seating 200 was built. The widely known John S. Coffman held his first series of meetings at this place about 1880. The 1953 membership was 114, with T. E. Schrock serving as bishop; Daniel Zook, minister; and Harold Christophel, deacon. Resident bishops serving here earlier included John Speicher, 1867-?; and J. P. Miller, 1912-1917. The ministers were Peter Keim, 1866-1904; Isaac Weaver, 1891-1917; and Aldus Brackbill, 1908-1928. The deacons were Herman Bender, 1866-1905; Joseph Mishler, 1900-1928; Eli Zook, 1912-1923; and George Stahl, 1925-1948.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published April 2024

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Bowne Mennonite Church (Clarksville, Michigan, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2024. Web. 24 Jul 2024.,_Michigan,_USA)&oldid=178699.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (April 2024). Bowne Mennonite Church (Clarksville, Michigan, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 July 2024, from,_Michigan,_USA)&oldid=178699.

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