College Mennonite Church (Goshen, Indiana, USA)

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College Mennonite Church was founded 8 December 1903 to serve constituents of Goshen College, the successor to the Elkhart Institute and first Mennonite college. Originally named Goshen College Mennonite Church, the church was a union congregation, affiliated with both Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference and Indiana-Michigan Amish Conference until the two conferences merged in 1917.

In January 1904, congregants first met at the Goshen College Assembly Hall, after previously meeting at a variety of locations. Jonas S. Hartzler was the first lead pastor, and other early pastors included Goshen College faculty members Paul E. Whitmer, I. W. Royer, and I. R. Detweiler. Early mission activities included the support beginning in 1904 of two female missionaries in India, Sunday evening meetings for Goshen students called Young People’s Meetings, and missions in Chicago and Fort Wayne. Women’s groups included the Working Girls Missionary Society and a women’s sewing circle.

The 1920s marked a crisis at College Mennonite Church. Bishop Daniel D. Miller disapproved of the church’s relatively lax standards on dress and church authority. In June 1923, Goshen College was shut down and Miller, with other officials from the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference, asked College Mennonite Church congregation members individually if they were willing to remain members of the Conference and abide by all conference rules. Amos E. Kreider agreed to temporarily lead the now significantly smaller church, but Kreider was dismissed in 1924 by Bishop Miller, who assumed a preaching role. Also in 1924, many members left with pastor I. R. Detweiler for Eighth Street Mennonite Church, which was part of the Central District Conference.

Mission activities in the 1930s and 1940s included funding local ministries, such as the Young People’s Christian Association (YPCA) organized by Goshen College students, and funding international ministries. In 1936, Goshen College students in the YPCA helped start a church plant that later became North Goshen Mennonite Church. YPCA students also helped start East Goshen Mennonite Church. During World War II, at least eleven members of College Mennonite Church joined the Civilian Public Service and were supported in part by the church.

In 1950, John H. Mosemann became pastor, and served until 1975. In 1950, the congregation also began meeting at the Goshen College Union Auditorium, which was larger than the Assembly Hall. In the 1950s, the congregation planned for a more permanent worship space, and a new Church-Chapel building was dedicated on 3 April 1960. In the 1950s and 1960s, student attendance dropped, but membership levels grew steadily. Koinonia groups were formed at College Mennonite Church in the 1950s, and became an important part of worship and social gathering outside of Sunday morning worship. In 1967, Mosemann led the adoption of a new constitution, which emphasized shifting decision making from only pastors to a larger group of leaders and elders. In the 1970s, the church began a Jubilee Fund, which was distributed by small groups to community members in need.

College Mennonite members participated in many discussions as worship and church standards evolved. The decision to install a pipe organ was a controversial and decades long process. An organ was an expensive instrument, and using a pipe organ broke with older Mennonite Church traditions of a-cappella singing. After discussion and planning in the 1950s and 1960s, a pipe organ was eventually dedicated in 1970. Questions of divorce and remarriage were another controversial topic, and in the early 1970s several couples who had previously divorced were allowed to remarry and become members. In 1973, a Koinonia group comprised partly of College Mennonite Church members called itself Metanoia, and separated in 1974 to form Assembly Mennonite Church. In 1975, Rachel Fisher became the church’s first female minister, although Fisher was not formally ordained until 1986, when she and Nancy Kauffman became ordained ministers.

College Mennonite Church had many international connections. An important part of these connections was continued support of Mennonite Central Committee and other service organizations. In the 1980s the church supported several Southeast Asian and Central American refugee families. In 1991, College Mennonite Church became a partner with the Los Calles community in El Salvador.

In the 1980s, the congregation’s demographics shifted toward older adults. The church began a long connection with the Greencroft Retirement home, with many Greencroft residents attending College Mennonite Church services, and services recorded and streamed at Greencroft. In the late 1980s, the church made a decision to put ministry with the elderly at the same level as ministry with college students, including pastoral and community ministry at Greencroft and among church members, and transportation between the two facilities. The College Mennonite Church building was expanded in 1993 to support a growing membership.

As of 2014, Phil Waite was the pastoral team leader, and the pastoral team also included Lee Dengler, Susan Dengler, Willie Kanagy, Marty Lehman, Daniel Yoder, Pamela Yoder, and Talashia Keim Yoder. As of 2014, the church supported many local organizations, providing matching grants to the Center for Healing and Hope, The Window, Maple City Health Care Center, MDC Goldenrod, and other organizations. College Mennonite Church also contains a Spanish-language group called Los Embajadores de Cristo, and the church provides a Spanish interpreter for Sunday morning worship. College Mennonite Church continues to be a thriving, active congregation with over a 1,000 members.


College Mennonite Church website.

Mennonite Yearbook and Directory. Mennonite Church USA.

Schlabach, Theron. "History." In College Mennonite Church: 1903-2003, ed. Ervin Beck. Goshen, IN: College Mennonite Church, 2003: 17–130.

Archival Records

The Archives of the congregation are located at the Mennonite Church USA Archives in Goshen, Indiana.

Additional records are located at College Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana.

Additional Information

Address: 1900 S Main St, Goshen, IN 46526

Phone: 574-535-7262

Website: College Mennonite Church

Denominational Affiliations:

Mennonite Church (MC) (1903-2002)

Mennonite Church USA (2002-present)

Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference (1903-present)

Indiana-Michigan Amish Mennonite Conference (1903-1917)

College Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1930 149
1935 197
1940 243
1945 297
1950 416
1955 580
1960 646
1965 805
1970 867
1975 904
1980 850
1985 873
1990 966
1995 1063
2000 1085

Original Article from Mennonite Encyclopedia

Goshen College Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church), Goshen, Indiana, was organized 8 December 1903, to meet the need of a congregation for the staff and students of Goshen College, which opened its doors 29 September 1903, following a transfer of the school from Elkhart, Indiana. Since the members of the congregation came from congregations affiliated with both the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference and the Indiana-Michigan Amish Mennonite Conference, the congregation belonged to both conferences and was served by bishops from both conferences until the merger in 1917. The first pastor was J. S. Hartzler, who was succeeded by I. W. Royer 1905-1910. Other pastors were P. E. Whitmer, George J. Lapp, I. R. Detweiler, and A. E. Kreider, all serving on the college staff. The charter membership in 1903 was 57; by 1904 it was 129.

Because of the closing of the college in June 1923 and also because of internal friction within the conference, a large part of the congregation withdrew and joined the Eighth Street Mennonite Church (founded 1913, new meetinghouse built 1920) of the Central Conference. I. R. Detweiler joined this church in 1923 and became its pastor. When the college reopened in September 1924, the bishop in charge reorganized the congregation with a new charter membership of 15, which reached 115 by 1925, 201 by 1935, 297 by 1945. Noah Oyer served as pastor 1924-d. 1931, followed by C. L. Graber 1931-1942, S. C. Yoder 1942-1950, and John H. Mosemann 1950- . Bishops have been D. D. Miller 1903-1942, S. C. Yoder 1942-1956, and John H. Mosemann 1956- . The congregation has had only two deacons - Amos Landis 1906-1922 and Levi C. Hartzler 1943- . The membership has grown continuously.

The congregation worshiped in the college chapel from the beginning until 1950, then in the College Union Auditorium until the erection of a joint church-chapel (seats 1,100), dedicated in August 1959, the cost of erection and maintenance being borne equally by the college and the congregation. The church has a circular sanctuary surrounded by rooms for Sunday school and other purposes. -- Harold S. Bender, 1959

Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 1087-1088. All rights reserved.

Author(s) Nathan Geiser
Date Published April 2014

Cite This Article

MLA style

Geiser, Nathan. "College Mennonite Church (Goshen, Indiana, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2014. Web. 2 Dec 2022.,_Indiana,_USA)&oldid=173987.

APA style

Geiser, Nathan. (April 2014). College Mennonite Church (Goshen, Indiana, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 2 December 2022, from,_Indiana,_USA)&oldid=173987.

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