Lombard Mennonite Church (Lombard, Illinois, USA)

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After the creation of an informal Western Suburb Mennonite Fellowship in 1952, the Lombard Mennonite Church, Lombard, Illinois, began in October 1954 when Bishop C. Warren Long of the Mennonite Home Mission in Chicago, at the request of the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, held an organizational meeting in the East Lombard Civic Club on 23 October 1954. Fourteen charter members formed the initial congregation, which immediately called LeRoy Kennel to serve as pastor. It held its first Sunday service on 31 October 1954 at the East Lombard Civic Club. It chose Lombard Mennonite Church as its name and affiliated with the Illinois Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church (MC). For several years, beginning in 1956, the congregation identified itself as the Edgewood Park Mennonite Church for its location within the city.

The congregation built a parsonage and dedicated it on 11 September 1955 but sold it several years later to help pay for its new church. It purchased a lot in Lombard for a new church building in 1956. It broke ground for the new church on 16 March 1958 and dedicated the new building on 19 October 1958. It dedicated new meetinghouse facilities on 30 March 1975. The church experienced a fire in 2000. It undertook renovations in 2016.

Lombard was an early Mennonite Church (MC) congregation to question in the 1950s requiring women to wear a standardized prayer veiling. Lombard Mennonite became even better known when it ordained Emma Richards as a minister on 17 June 1973. Emma was the first Mennonite woman in the modern era to be ordained as a congregational pastor. The congregation had called her to a team preaching ministry with her husband on 31 October 1971 and installed her as Associate Pastor on 15 October 1972 after seeking the Illinois Mennonite Conference's affirmation. The Illinois Conference approved her ordination at its 1973 annual meeting. This process led to a larger discussion within the Mennonite Church (MC) on the role of women in church leadership.

In late 1973, the General Board of the Mennonite Church (MC) accepted Lombard Mennonite's invitation to establish denominational offices on the Lombard property. The General Board's offices were built adjacent to the church the following year. The offices left Lombard for Elkhart, Indiana in 1988. The Mennonite World Conference offices were also located at this site from 1973 to 1986.

The congregation established the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center (LMPC)( in 1982 and named Arthur Boers as its first director in January 1983, followed by Richard Blackburn in 1984. In 1998, LMPC was reorganized as an independent not-for-profit ministry and moved to its own office.


Blackburn, Dick. "Lombard congregation to found peace center." Gospel Herald 75, no. 41 (12 October 1982): 696.

"An impressive service took place...." Gospel Herald 65, no. 45 (14 November 1972): 941.

Kauffmann, Ivan. "New office building under construction." Gospel Herald 67, no. 18 (30 April 1974): 368.

Kennel, LeRoy. "Another step at Lombard." Gospel Herald 49, no. 21 (22 May 1956): 182.

Kraybill, Paul N. "General Board acts on facilities planning." General Board 67, no. 2 (8 January 1974): 38.

"Lombard congregation ordains Emma Richards as Copastor." 66, no. 27 Gospel Herald (3 July 1973): 540.

"The Lombard Mennonite Church...." Gospel Herald 64, no. 49 (21 December 1971): 1058.

Long, C. Warren. "Lombard, Illinois." Gospel Herald 47, no. 46 (16 November 1954): 1099.

"Meetinghouse dedicated." Gospel Herald 68, no. 12 (29 April 1975): 335.

"New location for General Board office." Gospel Herald 67, no. 44 (5 November 1974): 868.

Smith, Willard H. Mennonites in Illinois. Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite History, 24. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1983: 209, 215-216, 407-408, 547.

Additional Information

Address: 528 East Madison Street, Lombard, Illinois 60148

Phone: 630-627-5310

Website: https://www.lombardmennonite.org/

Denominational Affiliations: Illinois Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at Lombard Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
LeRoy E. Kennel (1930-2019) 1954-1967
Evan "Joe" Richards (1929-2016) 1968-1991
Emma Sommers Richards (1927-2014) 1971-1991
Ryan Ahlgrim (Youth) 1979-1980
Janice Yordy (Youth) 1980-1981
David Sutter (Youth) 1981-1982
Richard G. Blackburn (Peace) 1986-1998
Daniel Halteman Schrock (Assistant) 1990-1991?
Paul Parker 1990-1991?
Edward Nyce 1991?-1995?
Ivan J. Kauffmann (Interim) 1992-1993
Robert Smith 1993-1998
Margaret Richer Smith 1993-1998
Robert Williamson 1993-1998
Martha Smith Good (Transitional) 1998-2000
Gerald Good (Transitional) 1998-2000
Todd K. Friesen 2000-2013
John M. Stoltzfus (Associate) 2001-2009?
Hillary Watson (Associate) 2013-2018
Donald D. Rheinheimer 2013-2018
Jan L. Rheinheimer 2013-2018
Richard A. Kauffman (Interim) 2018-2019
Richard L. Gehring 2019-
Barbara K. Gehring 2019-
Nathan Perrin (Christian Formation) 2021-

Lombard Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1954 14
1960 54
1970 83
1980 151
1990 190
2000 197
2009 182
2020 99

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By LeRoy E. Kennel. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 387. All rights reserved.

The Lombard Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA) is located 18 miles (30 km) west of Chicago in the suburb of Lombard. It was organized on 23 October 1954. For over two years prior to this Mennonite families that had moved to the Chicago area for vocational interests had met in homes for Bible study and fellowship. The charter membership, beginning with 14 members, was closed a year later with 51 members. This included associate members from the Evanston and Elgin I-W units and members of the General Conference Mennonite Church living in the area. Services were held at the church parsonage at 1012 Whitmore Lane, Lombard, and the East Lombard Civic Club Building, Westmore and Division, Lombard, before there was a regular church building. The church was affiliated with the Illinois Mennonite Conference. LeRoy Kennel was the pastor in 1954.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published January 2024

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Lombard Mennonite Church (Lombard, Illinois, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2024. Web. 27 Feb 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Lombard_Mennonite_Church_(Lombard,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=178218.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (January 2024). Lombard Mennonite Church (Lombard, Illinois, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 February 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Lombard_Mennonite_Church_(Lombard,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=178218.

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