East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA)

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East Chestnut Mennonite Church
Source: Engel Architects website

The East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church was established in 1879 after rural Mennonites in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA, began to find employment in Lancaster City. During the 1870s, some of these Mennonites asked rural ministers to come into the city to hold worship services. These were initially held on Sunday afternoons.

In 1879 the Lancaster Mennonite Church was built at its present location on land donated by lawyer Christian H. LeFevre. The building was dedicated on 4 January 1880; the initial membership was about 40. The congregation erected a new building in 1906; at that time, the name changed to East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church. This building remained in use in 2021. In 2002 the front of the building was renovated with a foyer, an elevator, and other accommodations to make the building more accessible.

A Sunday school began in 1894 with Benjamin F. Herr and David Lantz as superintendents.

In 1934 Paul Mosemann began delivering 15-minute radio sermons in violation of a Lancaster Mennonite Conference regulation. This violation led to his excommunication. Paul and his brother, Daniel, then organized the Calvary Independent Church.

In 1952 a split in the congregation resulted in the formation of the Neffsville Mennonite Church which joined the Ohio and Eastern Mennonite Conference. That group desired a less authoritarian conference and more congregational freedom.

Indeed, by the 1950s, East Chestnut was considered a progressive Mennonite church within the Lancaster Conference. It had a balcony, Sunday school rooms, and carpeted floors; additionally, worship services included special music, couples sitting together instead of separated into men's side and women's side, prayer without kneeling, and young peoples' meetings. Fewer women wore cape dresses at East Chestnut than was the case in the rural congregations.

On 12 June 2016, the congregation voted with 96 percent approval to leave Lancaster Mennonite Conference after that conference had announced its intention to depart from Mennonite Church USA by the end of 2017. Later that year, the congregation joined the Atlantic Coast Conference at its fall assembly.


"History." East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church. 2015. Web. 18 November 2021. https://www.ecsmc.org/about-us/history/

Houser, Gordon and Hannah Heinzekehr. "Congregational Affiliations Shifts for Some in Lancaster Mennonite Conference." "The Mennonite" (7 November 2016). Web. 18 November 2021. https://anabaptistworld.org/congregational-affiliation-shifts-around-lancaster/.

Additional Information

Address: 432 East Chestnut Street, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17602-3050

Phone: 717-392-7910

Website: https://www.ecsmc.org/

Denominational Affiliations: Atlantic Coast Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at East Chestnut Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Visiting Ministers 1879-1904
John H. Mosemann (1877-1938)
David H. Mosemann (1875-1946) 1907-1946
Jacob E. Brubaker (1897-1981) 1918-1956
J. Ross Goldfus (1891-1981) 1944-1947
John H. Mosemann (1907-1989) 1945-1947
Maurice E. Lehman (1917-2005) 1947-1953
Christian "Mylin" Shenk (1911-1975) (Interim) 1953-1956
Noah G. Good (1904-2002) (Interim) 1953-1955
A. Donald Augsburger 1956-1958
James M. Shank (1920-1987)
Luke J. Shank (1924-2004) 1967-1972
James R. Hess (1926-2011)
Glen A. Roth 1982-1987
Melvin Thomas 1987-1998
Ronald W. Adams 1998-2011
Sue L. Conrad Howes (Associate) 2005-2011
Dawn Yoder Harms (Interim) 2012-2013
Todd Friesen 2013-present
Donald D. Sharp (Interim) 2015-present
Samantha Lioi (Associate) 2014?-2019

Membership at East Chestnut Mennonite Church

Year Membership
1880 40
1895 300
1916 325*
1920 400*
1930 460*
1940 440
1950 312
1960 245
1970 301
1980 239
1990 200
2000 241
2007 190
2020 172
*=Combined with
James Street

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Ira D. Landis. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from "Mennonite Encyclopedia," Vol. 2, pp. 118-119 All rights reserved.

The East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church), a member of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference, is located at East Chestnut and Sherman Streets, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The first meetinghouse was built on this site in 1879, services having previously been held in a rented building on Charlotte Street. This meetinghouse was replaced in 1906 by a larger brick church. The trustees of the first meetinghouse, members of adjoining country churches, took their turns in caring for the afternoon services. A Sunday school was opened in 1894 with Benjamin F. Herr and David Lantz as superintendents. On 11 December 1904, John H. Mosemann was ordained to the ministry, and in 1926 to the office of bishop. On 30 June 1907, David H. Mosemann was ordained to the ministry. For years the church has been a young people's center every second Sunday night. Numerous all-day meetings were also held here. The ministers in 1955 were Noah G. Good, Jacob E. Brubaker, and Mylin Shenk. Services were held twice each Sunday, with a Sunday school, a summer Bible school, and a weekday Bible school each fall.

The congregation has been directly or indirectly the mother of a number of mission congregations in and near the city of Lancaster, among them being Vine Street, North End, Rossmere, South Christian Street, Laurel, and Freemont Streets, Lyndon. It has also suffered many losses by withdrawals. A considerable number of the Calvary Bible Church (independent) came from East Chestnut Street, while a block of members leaving in 1952 organized the Neffsville Mennonite Church under the Ohio and Eastern Conference. Earlier a number had left to share in the organization of the Monterey Mennonite Church under the same conference, near Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. As a result of these vicissitudes, the congregation has declined severely in membership (1955, 200).

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published November 2021

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2021. Web. 27 May 2022. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=East_Chestnut_Street_Mennonite_Church_(Lancaster,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=172571.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (November 2021). East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 May 2022, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=East_Chestnut_Street_Mennonite_Church_(Lancaster,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=172571.

©1996-2022 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.