East Union Mennonite Church (Kalona, Iowa, USA)

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East Union Mennonite Church, Kalona, Iowa
Source: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/89271903


The East Union Mennonite Church, Kalona, Iowa, USA, had its origins in a division within the Old Order Amish church between followers of more conservative Amish bishops and members who desired to hear preaching from more liberal Amish preachers from the eastern United States. Some of the dissidents, including Sleeping Preacher Noah Troyer, began to meet separately and by 1883, organized a Sunday school in the Prairie Dale schoolhouse.

Preacher Christian Warey moved to the settlement in 1884 but was not invited to preach by the Old Order Amish leadership because he had a folding top buggy and owned a raincoat. The dissidents invited Warey to become their preacher. He became a bishop in 1885.

The congregation met in the Prairie Dale schoolhouse until 1889, when it built a small (32" x 46") meetinghouse. Because members came from four different Old Order settlements, it was called the Union Meetinghouse. When the western part of the congregation built its own meetinghouse in 1898, the congregation became the East Union Amish Mennonite Church.

The congregation moved the building northeast of Kalona sometime after 1897. It built a new brick meetinghouse in 1912 that seated 500 people.

During World War I, East Union experienced some hostility. A mob wanted to tar and feather the minister, Dan Fisher, but he was not home.

In 1956, when East Union's building was crowded, it began the Kalona Mennonite Church in town. In the 1970s, the charismatic renewal movement influenced some members who left to help form the nondenominational Kalona Christian Fellowship.

The congregation was part of the Western District Amish Mennonite Conference from its beginning. It became part of the Iowa-Nebraska Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church (MC) in 1921 when then Amish Mennonites and Mennonites merged. In 2001 the Iowa-Nebraska Mennonite Conference merged with the Northern District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church to form the Central Plains Mennonite Conference as part of the new Mennonite Church USA.

In 2023 the East Union congregation remained part of the Central Plains Conference of Mennonite Church USA.


Gingerich, Melvin. The Mennonites in Iowa: marking the one hundredth anniversary of the coming of the Mennonites to Iowa. Iowa City, Iowa: The State Historical Society of Iowa, 1939: 137, 318-321.

Yoder, Holly Blosser. The same spirit: History of Iowa-Nebraska Mennonites. Freeman, S.D.: Central Plains Mennonite Conference, 2003: 31-32, 98, 156, 223-224.

Additional Information

Address: 5615 Gable Ave., Kalona, Iowa 52247

Phone: 319-656-2590

Website: https://eastunionmennonite.org/

Denominational Affiliations: Central Plains Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at East Union Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Christian Warey (1832-1914)
Jacob J. Swartzendruber (1848-1922) 1885-1894
Amos I. Yoder (1866-1932) 1906-1909
Daniel J. Fisher (1877-1970)
Frederick J. Gingerich (1878-1955) 1909-1921
Amos J. Gingerich 1925-1928
Sanford C. Yoder (1879-1975)
Joseph C. Brenneman (1877-1938) 1919-1938
Edward J. Shettler (1879-1964) 1932-1946
Harold H. Brenneman (1918-2010) 1942-1945
A. Lloyd Swartzendruber (1903-2002) 1946-1969
Samuel B. Nafziger (1913-2005)(Interim) 1951-1952
J. John J. Miller (1919-2012)
Lonnie D. Yoder 1972-1984
Norman Derstine 1984-1986
Noah B. Helmuth (1924-2021)(Interim)
Michael Loss 1987-1996
Jay Miller 1996-2013
Sonya Stauffer Kurtz 2014
Firman Gingerich 2014-2015
J. Joel Beachy 2015-

Membership at East Union Mennonite Church

Year Membership
1889 85
1913 225
1920 322
1930 463
1940 640
1950 512
1960 412
1970 379
1980 343
1990 313
2000 245
2009 225
2020 238

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By A. Lloyd Swartzendruber. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 130. All rights reserved.

The East Union Mennonite Church (MC), located three miles north of Kalona, Johnson County, Iowa, was organized in 1884 under the leadership of Christian Warey, having come out of the large Old Order Amish settlement in this locality. It first met for worship at the Prairie Dale schoolhouse, 1 1/2 miles west of the present location, and was known as the Union Church. Christian Warey was ordained bishop the following year, with Jacob B. Yoder as deacon. Others who have served as deacon, minister, or bishop up to 1950 are A. J. Yoder, Jacob J. Schwartzendruber, Jacob S. Yoder, Fred Gingerich, S. C. Yoder, A. C. Brenneman, Harold Brenneman, and Edward Shettler.

The East Union congregation was a member of the Western District Amish Mennonite Conference until the merger of 1921 and since then has been a member of the Iowa-Nebraska Mennonite Conference.

The present church was built in 1922, and was the largest Mennonite church of its branch west of the Mississippi in the 1950s. The ministers in 1955 were D. J. Fisher, bishop; A. Lloyd Swartzendruber, assistant bishop; J. John J. Miller, minister; and Henry H. Miller, deacon; the membership was 565.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published May 2023

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "East Union Mennonite Church (Kalona, Iowa, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2023. Web. 23 Jun 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=East_Union_Mennonite_Church_(Kalona,_Iowa,_USA)&oldid=175444.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (May 2023). East Union Mennonite Church (Kalona, Iowa, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 June 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=East_Union_Mennonite_Church_(Kalona,_Iowa,_USA)&oldid=175444.

©1996-2024 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.