Fairview Mennonite Church (Fairview, Michigan, USA)

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Fairview Mennonite Church in Fairview, Michigan in 1946.
Source: Mennonite Community Photograph Collection, The Congregation (HM4-134 Box 5 Folder 1 photo 010.5-1).
Mennonite Church USA Archives, Goshen, Indiana
Fairview Mennonite Church in 1970s.

In 1900, the first Amish Mennonites settled west of what is now the village of Fairview, Michigan. They came from the Howard-Miami congregation in Indiana. In 1902, a Methodist minister organized a union Sunday school in the Gusler Schoolhouse west of Fairview; the Amish Mennonites supported this effort.

In 1903, Eli A. Bontrager, an ordained minister, purchased a farm in Oscoda County and moved there in the fall. On 1 January 1904, the local Amish Mennonites agreed to build a meetinghouse on land donated by Bontrager. It organized the Fairview Amish Mennonite Church on 2 February 1904 with 35 members. The meetinghouse was dedicated on 22 May 1904. The meetinghouse required an addition already in 1906.

On 4 April 1918, the meetinghouse was destroyed by arson. The congregation's nonresistant position on World War I instigated the action. After some resistance, the congregation built a new meetinghouse. Construction was slowed because of material shortages, then complaints that building the church was not helping the war effort. In the interim, the congregation met in a nearby local school. It finally was able to meet in the basement of the new church in December 1918. The congregation built the present building in 1960.

In 1924, some members left Fairview to form the Comins Mennonite Church, which joined the Central Conference Mennonite Church. The issues concerned dress regulations and strict church discipline.

In 1967, after Virgil Hershberger was named pastor, about a tenth of the congregation withdrew and formed the Conservative Mennonite Fellowship. This may have been in resistance to his college and seminary training.

Pastor Virgil Hershberger suffered a stroke in 1999 and needed to relinquish his leadership duties. The interim pastor led a strong push to get Fairview to leave the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference.

In June 2002, Fairview Mennonite Church withdrew from the Indiana-Michigan Conference and the Mennonite Church (MC) and began an independent Mennonite congregation. The congregation had concerns about issues in the denomination, particularly over "apparent tolerance in the conference concerning homosexuality."

Fairview remained an independent Mennonite congregation from 2002 to 2014. It then joined the Conservative Mennonite Conference.


"A brief history." Fairview Mennonite Church. 2023. Web. 14 May 2024. https://fairviewmennonite.org/church-commitments/.

Eash, Sanford & Orpha. "Fairview: full of life." Gospel Herald 77, no. 7 (14 February 1984): 108-109.

Esch, Menno. "Fairview, Mich." Gospel Herald 11, no. 36 (12 December 1918): 668.

Preheim, Rich. In Pursuit of Faithfulness: Conviction, Conflict, and Compromise in Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference. Harrisonburg, Va.: Herald Press, 2016: 255, 280-281, 308, 362.

"Three Churches Leave Conference." Gospel Evangel (July-August 2002): 2.

Wenger, John Christian. The Mennonites in Indiana and Michigan. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1961: 202-206.

Additional Information

Address: 1583 North Abbe Road, Fairview, Michigan 48621

Phone: 989-848-2953

Website: https://fairviewmennonite.org/

Denominational Affiliations: Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference (Until 2002)

Mennonite Church (MC) (Until 2002)

Rosedale Network of Churches (2014- )

Pastoral Leaders at Fairview Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Eli A. Bontrager (1861-1956) 1902-1916
Isaac A. Miller (1839-1904) 1903-1904
Menno Esch (1879-1967)
Noah Z. Yoder (1847-1918) 1906-1918
Moses S. Steiner (1880-1966) 1920-1960
Harvey Handrich (1901-1993)
Floyd M. Yoder (1920-2014) 1952-1966
Virgil S. Hershberger 1962-1999
Earl Miller 1974?-1976
Howard Keim (Youth) 1976-1979
Cleo Yoder (Associate) 1979-1985
Randy Detweiler (Youth) 1990-1999
Cliff Schrauger (Interim) 2000-2001
Eldon L. Krider 2002?-2010s?
Jubal Handrich 2010s?-
Lowell Eastman 2010s?-

Fairview Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1904 35
1913 226
1920 184
1930 247
1940 298
1950 345
1960 376
1970 384
1980 430
1990 415
2000 425
2011 251

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Menno Esch. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 290. All rights reserved.

Fairview Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church (MC)), located in the village of Fairview, Oscoda County, northeastern Michigan, was a member of the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference. The church was organized with 35 members on 2 February 1904. Eli A. Bontrager was the first pastor. In 1953 the church had a membership of 391, under the leadership of Bishop Harvey Handrich. Other ministers who have served the congregation included Menno Esch, N. Z. Yoder, L. A. Kauffman, Moses S. Steiner, Floyd Yoder and Virgil Hershberger; the deacon in 1953 was Otis J. Bontrager. Menno Esch served as bishop 1909-1952 when Harvey Handrich became bishop.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published May 2024

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Fairview Mennonite Church (Fairview, Michigan, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2024. Web. 21 Jul 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Fairview_Mennonite_Church_(Fairview,_Michigan,_USA)&oldid=178839.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (May 2024). Fairview Mennonite Church (Fairview, Michigan, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 July 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Fairview_Mennonite_Church_(Fairview,_Michigan,_USA)&oldid=178839.

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