First Mennonite Church of Iowa City (Iowa City, Iowa, USA)

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The Iowa City Gospel Mission began as a Mennonite Sunday school on 27 November 1927 in the former Cartright schoolhouse on Orchard Street on the west side of the Iowa River in Iowa City. Members of the Lower Deer Creek, East Union, and West Union congregations helped repair and replaster the building for use on Sunday afternoons. C. Z. Yoder of Wooster, Ohio, preached the dedicatory sermon. Initially, the mission held preaching services every two weeks.

Jacob S. and Mary Roth served as the first local workers at the mission beginning in 1928; Christian E. Hershberger served as the supervisory superintendent of the work for two years and sole superintendent after the Roths left. Ruth Grove was an early mission worker who wrote occasionally in the Gospel Herald.

The mission organized as a congregation on 15 November 1931 and became part of the Iowa-Nebraska Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church (MC). It had five charter members and was identified as the Iowa City Mennonite Mission and Church, though it was popularly called the Iowa City Gospel Mission.

Norman Hobbs was the long-time superintendent of the mission through World War II. Hobbs was a veteran of World War I but became a Mennonite after conversion at the Fort Wayne, Indiana mission. In January 1952, he left the Mennonite Church, taking about 20 members with him. Hobbs organized a new congregation (Grace Missionary) which became affiliated with the United Missionary Church.

In 1939, the Iowa-Nebraska Mission Board oversaw the relocation and building of a new church on the east side of Iowa River; the church dedicated the new building on 3 September 1939. In 1955, the congregation became self-supporting and called itself the Iowa City Mennonite Church. In 1964 the congregation moved to a new location near the University of Iowa. At that time, its name changed to First Mennonite Church of Iowa City.

During the 1950s, the congregation benefitted from an active Voluntary Service unit that enabled Mennonite young men to fulfill their alternative service obligations.

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

Bibliography

Brenneman, Helen Good. "What Makes the Wheels Go Round in a City Mission-Church." Gospel Herald 47, no. 51 (21 December 1954): 1214-1216.

Hershberger, C. E. "Iowa City, Ia." Gospel Herald 20, no. 51 (22 March 1928): 1093.

_____. "Iowa City, Ia." Gospel Herald 21, no. 25 (20 September 1928): 520-521.

_____. "Iowa City, Ia." Gospel Herald 24, no. 39 (24 December 1931): 837, 845.

Hobbs, Norman. "Iowa City, Ia." Gospel Herald 24, no. 37 (10 December 1931): 809.

"Iowa City mission-Norman Hobbs." Gospel Herald 39, no. 2 (9 April 1946): 45.

"Kalona, Iowa." Gospel Herald 20, no. 37 (15 December 1927): 813.

"Parnell, Iowa." Gospel Herald 20, no. 30 (27 October 1927): 665.

Yoder, Holly Blosser. The same spirit: History of Iowa-Nebraska Mennonites. Freeman, S.D.: Central Plains Mennonite Conference, 2003: 272.

Additional Information

Address: 405 Myrtle Ave., Iowa City, Iowa 52246

Phone: 319-338-0302

Website: https://www.firstmennoniteiowacity.org/

Denominational Affiliations: Central Plains Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Superintendents/Pastoral Leaders at First Mennonite Church of Iowa City

Name Years
of Service
Jacob S. Roth (1897-1966) 1928-1930
Christian E. Hershberger (1872-1966) 1931
Norman W. Hobbs (1897-1967) 1931-1952
LeRoy E. Kennel (1930-2019) (Interim) 1952
Virgil J. Brenneman (1921-2008) 1952-1959
Wilbur G. Nachtigall (1918-2003)
(Interim)
1959-1966
1981-1982
John P. Duerksen (1913-2006)(Interim) 1966-1967
Joseph S. Hertzler (1932-2008) 1967-1971
LeRoy G. Friesen (Assistant) 1969-1971
Edward B. Stoltzfus 1971-1980
Sheldon Burkhalter 1982-
J. Stanley Friesen 1983-1987
Anne Stucky (1953-2007) 1987-1990
Firman Gingerich 1989-1997
Diane Zaerr Brenneman 1991-1998
Margaret Richer Smith 1998?-2015
Robert Smith 1998?-2015
S. Ken Beidler 2002?-2008?
Gordon Scoville (Interim) 2015-2017?
Karen Martens Zimmerly 2017-
Terry J. Zimmerly 2017-

Membership at First Mennonite Church of Iowa City

Year Membership
1931 5
1940 74
1950 102
1960 97
1970 195
1980 275
1990 254
2000 267
2009 303
2020 275

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Virgil J. Brenneman. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 51-52. All rights reserved.

Iowa City (Iowa) Mennonite Church, for­merly Iowa City Gospel Mission, began as the Mennonite Sunday School on 27 November 1927 in the old Cartright schoolhouse on Orchard Street on the west side of the Iowa River in Iowa City. The work began as a result of the vision of Will Guengerich, Chris Hershberger, Joe C. Brenneman, and others, in part to provide a church home for Mennonites who had moved to the city. The first meeting ­house was erected in the summer of 1939 at 614 Clark Street (corner of Clark and Seymour) on the east side of the Iowa River. A building program in the mid-1960s allowed the membership to grow to 300. Now located close to the University, First Mennonite ministers to patients, students and faculty.The pastor in 1954 was Virgil J. Brenneman. As a mission it was operated by the Iowa-Nebraska District Board of the Mennonite Church. In January 1952 Norman Hobbs, who was then pastor, left the Mennonite Church. Taking about 20 members with him, he organized a new congregation (Grace Missionary) which became affiliated with the United Missionary Church. In October 1954 the Mission became an independent congrega­tion assuming the entire support of the program and its pastor. At that time it was also decided to change the name to Iowa City Mennonite Church.


Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published May 2023

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "First Mennonite Church of Iowa City (Iowa City, Iowa, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2023. Web. 22 May 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=First_Mennonite_Church_of_Iowa_City_(Iowa_City,_Iowa,_USA)&oldid=175533.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (May 2023). First Mennonite Church of Iowa City (Iowa City, Iowa, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=First_Mennonite_Church_of_Iowa_City_(Iowa_City,_Iowa,_USA)&oldid=175533.




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