First Mennonite Church (Mountain Lake, Minnesota, USA)

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The Mountain Lake Mennonite Church, Mountain Lake, Minnesota, USA, began in the 1870s from Mennonite immigrants from South Russia/Ukraine. A congregation organized in 1877 and elected David Loewen and Johann Schultz as ministers. Gerhard Neufeld, already ordained in Russia, arrived with his family in 1878. The congregation ordained him as the congregation's first Elder.

The church first met on the Heinrich Janzen family's farm. In 1882, Janzen donated land on which the congregation erected its first church building, which was dedicated on 17 December 1882. It built a second church in 1911, dedicating it on 12 December. This building included an organ. The congregation built a parsonage in 1947. First Mennonite erected a third church building, which it dedicated on 5 August 1956.

The church incorporated on 30 July 1888 as "The Trustees of the Mountain Lake Mennoniten Kirche." The church retained that name until 1938, when it legally changed to "First Mennonite Church of Mountain Lake, Minnesota."

The Mountain Lake congregation remained independent until 1917, when it joined the Northern District Conference and the General Conference Mennonite Church, already under the name First Mennonite Church.

In 1919, there was a split in the church. Elder Jacob Stoesz resigned and went to the Bergthal Church (First Mennonite Church North of Butterfield), which had been in union with the Mountain Lake church. When he left, I. J. Dick was selected by lot and ordained in 1920.

Sunday school began in 1891, with I. I. Bargen as the teacher. The first Christian Endeavor Society began in 1906.

As late as 1936, worship continued in German. In 1937 English began. By the mid-1950s, only a single German Sunday school class remained. During the 1930s, the congregation gradually began to pay its pastors.

As part of the realignment of the Mennonite Church (MC) and General Conference Mennonite Church into Mennonite Church USA, First Mennonite was among the congregations that joined the new Central Plains Mennonite Conference in 2000.

In 2015 the congregation sold its church building at 305 North 7th Street to the Iglesia Pentecostal Hispana Unida (United Pentecostal Hispanic Church). It met there for the last time on 27 December 2015. In January 2016, it began meeting in the chapel of Good Samaritan Village in Mountain Lake, with an average attendance of 40.

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


"Farewell, First Mennonite--to the building--not to the congregation." Cross Counties Connect. 22 December 2015. Web. 14 May 2023.

First Mennonite Church, Mountain Lake, Minnesota: Dedicated August 5, 1956. Mountain Lake, Minn.: First Mennonite Church, 1956.

Kauffman, E. Elaine. "Beginning a new chapter." Scattered Seeds (June 2019): 1-2.

Schmidt, Diena, ed. The Northern District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church 1891-1991. Freeman, S.D.: The Conference, 1991: 112-115.

Stella, Rachel. "As Rural Life Changes, a Church Lets Go of the Past." Mennonite World Review 29 February 2016. Web. 29 February 2016.

Additional Information

Meeting Address: Good Samaritan Village chapel, 745 Basinger Memorial Drive, Mountain Lake, Minnesota

Phone: 507-427-2237.


Denominational Affiliations: Central Plains Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at First Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
David Loewen (1828-1910) 1877-?
Johann Schultz (1833-1908) 1877-?
Gerhard Neufeld (1827-1916)(Elder) 1878-1909
Cornelius Enns (1835-1892) 1879-?
Gerhard Fast (1849-1908) 1881-1908
Peter K. Voth (1847-1892) 1881-1892
Abraham Friesen 1884-1891
Gerhard Rahn (1856-1914) 1893-1914
David D. Harder (1863-1954) 1893-1935
Jacob J. Stoesz (1868-1949)
John F. Niessen (1871-1924) 1911-1924
Isaac J. "I. J." Dick
Landolene R. "L. R." Amstutz (1917-1983) 1947-1955
Willard W. Wiebe (1917-1967) 1955-1964
Alvin D. Kleinsasser 1964-1970
Paul Kliewer 1968-1972
Harold W. Thieszen 1971-1975
Bruno A. Penner (1928-2020) 1975-1984
Andrew N. Shelly (Interim) 1984-1985
Lorne Friesen 1985-1990
John Kroeker 1990-1999
Ray Reimer (Interim) 1999-2000
E. Elaine Kaufmann 2000-2017
Lois Janzen Preheim (Interim) 2017
S. Roy Kaufman 2017-

Membership at First Mennonite Church

Year Membership
1924 306
1930 330
1940 365
1950 450
1960 425
1970 409
1980 388
1990 288
2000 150
2009 111
2020 71

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Isaac J. Dick. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 762. All rights reserved.

First Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA), Mountain Lake, Minnesota, organized in 1878. Until about 1938 it was called the Mennonite Church of Mountain Lake. It had no conference affiliation until 1917, when it joined both the Northern District Conference and the General Conference Mennonite Church. The first elder, Gerhard Neufeld, arrived in 1878 from South Russia, whence all members in the early years came. The most common names were Neufeld, Harder, Derksen, Dick, Falk, Friesen. About half of the members were farmers in the 1950s.

The first meetinghouse was built in 1882. The second meetinghouse, also a wooden structure, was erected in 1911 with a seating capacity of about 350. It was replaced by a modern brick building with a seating capacity of 710, dedicated in August 1956. In 1947 a brick parsonage was built. As late as 1936 the language of worship was German. In 1937 English was introduced and gradually gained ground, so that by the mid-1950s it was all English, with the exception of a single German Sunday-school class. In 1947-1955 L. R. Amstutz was the pastor. He was the first minister called from outside the congregation. The Sunday school was organized about the middle nineties. The first Christian Endeavor Society was started in 1906. In 1956 there was also a Junior C.E. Society and a Youth Fellowship organization. There were three mission societies, a men's chorus, and a mixed choir.

Outstanding individuals in the history of the church have included Elder Gerhard Neufeld 1878-1910; Jacob Stoesz, elder 1910-1918; I. J. Dick, assistant pastor 1914-1920, elder 1920-1947; D. D. Harder, minister 1892-1940; I. I. Bargen, who taught in the Sunday school for about 50 years. The membership in 1956 was 423. L. R. Amstutz was succeeded as pastor in 1955 by Willard W. Wiebe.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published May 2023

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "First Mennonite Church (Mountain Lake, Minnesota, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2023. Web. 26 May 2024.,_Minnesota,_USA)&oldid=175485.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (May 2023). First Mennonite Church (Mountain Lake, Minnesota, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 May 2024, from,_Minnesota,_USA)&oldid=175485.

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