Metamora Mennonite Church (Metamora, Illinois, USA)

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Metemora Mennonite Church in Metemora, Illinois in June 1948.
Source: Mennonite Community Photograph Collection, The Congregation (HM4-134 Box 5 Folder 1 photo 010.5-10).
Mennonite Church USA Archives, Goshen, Indiana

Organized church life for Amish Mennonites in Illinois began in 1833 after the arrival of Christian Engle, a bishop ordained in Alsace. The Partridge Creek Amish Mennonite congregation was the first Amish congregation in Illinois. Prior to that, Bishop Peter Nafziger from Butler County, Ohio, had visited the area several times beginning in 1831.

Initially, the congregation met in homes every two weeks, followed by a simple lunch. The Partridge settlement in Woodford County grew rapidly and, by the 1840s, spread into adjacent counties.

The Partridge Creek congregation built its first meetinghouse in 1854. Partly, the departure of members to the Apostolic Christian Church (or Neu Taufer) in the early 1852s, stimulated the leadership to ordain a younger leader, and to build a meetinghouse.

During the Civil War, some Partridge Creek men paid the required fine to avoid service, but others enlisted. Perhaps the fact that Abraham Lincoln was well-known in the local community enhanced enlistment.

As Partridge Creek Amish Mennonite families began to move to more distant locations, new congregations formed. These included the Waldo Mennonite Church in 1860, the Weston congregation in 1870, and the Roanoke congregation in 1873. By 1889, most members had moved from Partridge Creek, so the congregation built a new wooden frame meetinghouse close to Metamora on land purchased from Christian and Laura Camp. It continued to use the Partridge Creek meetinghouse until 1894, when it was sold to a family. The new meetinghouse was known as the Metamora Amish Mennonite Church.

Partridge Creek became a member of the Western District Amish Mennonite Conference in the 1880s when that conference formed. When its Illinois congregations merged with the Illinois Mennonites in 1921, the combined regional conference became the Illinois Mennonite Conference. The Partridge Creek Amish Mennonites began to rotate services with Amish Mennonite congregations at Dillon Creek, Delavan Prairie, and Die Busch Gemein.

The congregation in the late 19th century also cooperated more closely with the Union Mennonite Church, a congregation with a Mennonite, not Amish, background. The Union Mennonites had begun settling in this area of Illinois at the same time as the Amish, but the groups had maintained strict separation for some decades. The cooperation was facilitated by popular evangelists like John S. Coffman, who preached to both groups.

In 1911, the Metamora Amish Mennonite Church tore down the 1889 building and erected a new building that it dedicated on 12 November 1911. This building also became inadequate over time. In 1951 it began construction of a new building and dedicated it on 16 November 1952. It built a new parsonage in 1956.

On 1 April 1918, during World War I, a gang painted the church building with yellow paint with slogans like "We buy no bonds," "We are slackers," and "We love the Kaiser." The yellow paint remained on the building for over a year.

In 1903, the Roanoke congregation purchased an abandoned 1865 Baptist and Methodist church building seven miles north of Eureka. Metamora Amish Mennonite joined the project in 1905, and helped rebuild the building in 1906, and called it the Harmony Mennonite Church. When the Roanoke congregation built its own meetinghouse in 1920, it left the Harmony work in charge of the Metamora congregation. Services were held regularly each alternate Sunday in the Metamora church. On intervening Sundays, the congregation divided between the Union church near Washington, Illinois, and the Harmony church. In 1929, the Harmony church was closed as greater use of automobiles and better roads made travel to the Metamora building easier. The Harmony building was dismantled and moved to Pleasant Hill, near Morton, and was used by the congregation there as a house of worship. The Harmony property became part of a local farm. The Union Mennonite Church also closed in 1929. Edward Schertz purchased the building and used the lumber to rebuild his house. Metamora then included members from both Amish and Mennonite heritage.

Well-known sons and daughters of the Metamora congregation included historian C. Henry Smith, home mission worker Emma Oyer, Noah Oyer, professor and minister at Hesston College and Goshen College, and Walter Yoder, hymnologist.

During World War I, almost all Metamora Amish Mennonite men refused military service. In World War II, 13 men served in the Civilian Public Service program authorized by the church, and ten men entered military service.

After the war, the Metamora Mennonite Church helped establish Sunday schools that eventually became the Cazenovia Mennonite (1957) and Germantown Mennonite (1963) churches. However, the Germantown congregation closed in 1972, and most members returned to Metamora.


Estes, Steven R. Living Stones: a History of the Metamora Mennonite Church. Metamora, Ill.: The Church, 1984.

Smith, Willard H. Mennonites in Illinois. Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite History, 24. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1983: 63-65, 169-170.

Additional Information

Address: 1393 Mennonite Road, Metamora, Illinois 61548-7559

Phone: 309-367-4892

Website: Metamora Mennonite Church

Denominational Affiliation:

Western Amish Mennonite Conference (Until 1920)

Illinois Mennonite Conference (1921-present)

Mennonite Church (MC) (1921-2002)

Mennonite Church USA (2002-present)

Pastoral Leaders at Metamora Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Christian Engle (ca. 1765-1838)(Bishop) 1833-1838
Joseph Engel (1790-1852)(Bishop) 1837-1852
Jacob Nafziger (1798-1888)(Bishop) 1837-ca. 1875
Michael Belsley (ca. 1775-1848) 1837-1848
John Nafziger (1802-1856)(Bishop) 1837-1856
Andrew Baughman (ca. 1799-1864)(Bishop) 1839-1864
Johannes Gingerich (1801-1845)(Bishop) 1840-1845
Peter Nafziger (1787-1885)(Bishop) 1844-1859
Peter Beller (1800-1887)(Bishop) 1850-ca. 1867
Christian Esch (1818-1882) 1852-1864
Joseph Maurer (1815-1867)(Bishop) 1856-1867
Andrew Ebersole (ca. 1825-ca. 1894) 1880-1894
Joseph Bachman (1826-1897)
Christian Garber (1814-1893) by 1866-1893
Christian Schertz (1832-1889) 1866-1889
Peter Guengerich (1825-1898) 1880-1898
Peter Schertz (1857-1932) 1888-1932
Peter Summer (1843-1922) 1888-1918
Andrew A. Schrock (1863-1949)
Peter Samuel Garber (1849-1939) 1894-1934
Henry R. Schertz (1886-1954)
1917-1920, 1923-1941
LeRoy E. Kennel (1930-2019)
Harold A. Zehr (1903-1975) 1954-1955
Roy C. Bucher (1920-2006)
Howard J. Zehr (1916-1977)(Bishop) 1954-1957
Milo F. Kauffman (1898-1988)(Interim) 1970-1971
Jason James "Jim" Detweiler (1926-1994) 1971-1978
Joseph W. Davis (1895-1984)(Visitation) 1972-1975
Gail Fisher (Christian Education)
Larry Augsburger 1979-1986
Tina Hartzler (Christian Education) 1982-1983
Tracey I. Werner (Christian Education) 1984-1986?
Paul C. Sieber (1921-2019)(Interim) 1986-1987?
Larry Tate 1987-1988
Roger Hochstetler 1988-1994
Robert E. Nolt 1994-2001
Michael D. Danner (Associate)
Melissa Danner (Associate) 2004?-2006?
Ada L. Nofsinger (1933-2017)(Visitation) 2004?-2014
Jon David Byler (Associate) 2005-
Randall Miller (Transitional) 2015-2017
Eric A. Potter 2017-

Metamora Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1854 ca. 100
1889 ca. 200
1904 179
1925 274
1930 266
1940 299
1950 351
1960 431
1970 424
1980 305
1990 239
2000 229
2009 188
2020 167

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Henry R. Schertz and Harold S. Bender. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 658. All rights reserved.

Metamora Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA), originally known as the Partridge Creek or Springbay Church, was organized in 1833 by Christian Engel in the home of his son John Engel one mile west of Metamora. Christian Engel, the first Amish bishop in America west of Ohio, served as bishop of this congregation until his death in 1838. The Partridge congregation at one time had 13 ordained ministers, four of whom were bishops. Services were held in the homes until 1854, when the Partridge brick church was built, which served until 1889, when a frame building was erected one mile east of Metamora. For many years services were held every other Sunday, alternating with the Roanoke Church.

The Metamora and Roanoke congregations together purchased an abandoned Baptist church building seven miles north of Eureka in 1905, rebuilt it, and called it the Harmony Church. When the Roanoke congregation built its own meetinghouse it left the Harmony work in charge of the Metamora congregation. Services were held regularly each alternate Sunday in the Metamora church. On intervening Sundays the congregation divided between the Union church near Washington, IL, and the Harmony church. In 1929 the Harmony and Union churches were closed. The Harmony building was moved to Pleasant Hill, near Morton, and was used by the congregation there as a house of worship.

The membership of the Metamora congregation in 1955 was 388, with Roy Bucher as pastor and Howard J. Zehr as bishop. The congregation is a member of the Illinois Conference. H. R. Schertz (1886-1954) served as minister in 1917-1954, bishop 1941-1954, and outstanding leader of the Metamora Mennonite Church, with the exception of a period of about three years (1920-1923), when he served as superintendent of the Chicago Home Mission.

Author(s) H. R. Schertz
Harold S Bender
Date Published 1957

Cite This Article

MLA style

Schertz, H. R. and Harold S Bender. "Metamora Mennonite Church (Metamora, Illinois, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 22 May 2024.,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=178614.

APA style

Schertz, H. R. and Harold S Bender. (1957). Metamora Mennonite Church (Metamora, Illinois, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2024, from,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=178614.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 658. All rights reserved.

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