Germfask Community Fellowship (Germfask, Michigan, USA)

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Germfask Mennonite Church, ca. 2012. Photo: Victor Wiebe.

The Fernland Mennonite Church, Germfask, Michigan, was the first of a chain of Mennonite congregations begun in Michigan's Upper Peninsula beginning in 1935. C. A. Shank of the Olive congregation and the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Mission Board, visited the Upper Peninsula and believed it was ripe for a Mennonite mission. Consequently, summer Bible schools were held at Germfask in 1935 and 1936. In 1937 the mission board placed Chester and Eva Osborne at Germfask, making Chester the first Mennonite pastor in the Upper Peninsula. Chester and Eva began holding worship services in the Stauffer School across the road from where the Osbornes lived.

In the spring of 1938, Fernland was organized into a congregation. Chester Osborne resigned in October 1947, and Bruce Handrich was ordained and continued as pastor. The congregation met in a school building until 23 June 1941, when they dedicated a new church.

In about 1968, the congregation changed its name to Germfask Mennonite Church.

By 2006, the congregation worshiped in its fellowship hall because the sanctuary only seated 60 people.

In June 2015, the Germfask congregation withdrew from the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference. This move was part of a larger realignment of Mennonite congregations in the 2010s that were formerly part of Mennonite Church USA. These congregations were unhappy with Mennonite Church USA's failure to take stronger disciplinary actions against area conferences and congregations that expressed openness to the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.

Germfask briefly continued as an independent Mennonite congregation. Sometime around 2018, the congregation changed its name to Germfask Community Fellowship and served as a community church.


Eash, Sanford. "Meet the Handrichs of Germfask." Gospel Herald 73, no. 14 (1 April 1980): 260-261.

Kaufman, Doug. "Germfask Mennonite Church Withdrawal." Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference. June 2015. Web. 5 June 2017.

Livermore, J. D. "Germfask Mennonite." Gospel Evangel 87, no. 2 (March/April 2006): 2-3.

Preheim, Rich. In Pursuit of Faithfulness: Conviction, Conflict, and Compromise in Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference. Harrisonburg, Va.: Herald Press, 2016: 136, 143-144, 217, 309.

Wenger, John Christian. The Mennonites in Indiana and Michigan. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1961: 251-252.

Additional Information

Address: 6878 State Highway M77, Germfask, Michigan

Meeting Place:



Denominational Affiliations:

Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference (Until 2015)

Mennonite Church USA (Until 2015)

Pastoral Leaders at Germfask Community Fellowship

Name Years
of Service
Chester C. Osborne (1913-1998) 1937-1947
Bruce E. Handrich (1924-2011) 1947-1977
Kenneth L. Dietzel 1977-1983
Lay Leadership 1983-1985
Harold Christophel 1985-1987?
Wendell Handrich 1987-1993?
Ramon Flores 1993-1998
Joseph D. "J. D." Livermore 1998-
Michelle Sears (Associate) 2019-

Germfask Community Fellowship Membership

Year Members
1938 9
1940 22
1950 12
1960 29
1970 21
1980 26
1990 33
2000 34
2009 34

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Chester C. Osborne. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 326. All rights reserved.

The Fernland Mennonite Church, located near Germfask, Schoolcraft County, Michigan, began as a mission station under the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite District Mission Board. In the spring of 1938 it was organized into a congregation with Chester C. Osborne serving as pastor. He resigned in October 1947, and Bruce Handrich was ordained and continued as pastor. The membership in 1955 was 24. This is the first Mennonite church to be established in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published May 2024

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Germfask Community Fellowship (Germfask, Michigan, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2024. Web. 24 Jul 2024.,_Michigan,_USA)&oldid=179307.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (May 2024). Germfask Community Fellowship (Germfask, Michigan, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 July 2024, from,_Michigan,_USA)&oldid=179307.

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