Nanih Waiya Indian Mennonite Church (Preston, Mississippi, USA)

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The Nanih Waiya Indian Mennonite Church, Preston, Mississippi, USA, began as a mission outreach by the Mashulaville Mennonite Church to the Choctaw People in the summer of 1961. John Garber of the Burton Mennonite Church in Ohio led a Bible school in the area. Nevin Bender led the early work at Nanih Waiya with the help of David Weaver of Mashulaville. Because of the connections to the Burton Mennonite Church, the congregation became part of the Ohio and Eastern Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church (MC).

A church building at Nanih Waiya was completed in early 1963, with the first service held on 10 February 1963. The building suffered the first of three bombings on 18 September 1964, the same night a nearby African-American church was bombed. With the help of the Mennonite Disaster Service, the chapel was rebuilt in 21 days. An addition of Sunday school rooms was completed in April 1965. On 19 February 1966, the church was bombed a second time. Local volunteers helped in the second rebuilding as the church avoided using Northern "outsiders" for the reconstruction. A third bombing took place on 23 December 1966. Nanih Waiya youth who had been Christmas caroling, discovered the bombing that destroyed the chapel part of the building. Cleanup and repairs took place immediately, and the congregation was able to use the unfinished chapel space by mid-January 1967. A later incident occurred in November 2012 when a burglar stole a heater that resulted in fire damage to the building.

The Mennonite Board of Missions established a Voluntary Service (VS) unit in nearby Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1972. Many of these volunteers attended the Nanih Waiya church. The VS unit closed at the end of 1987.

In 1973, Nanih Waiya helped to launch the Pearl River Mennonite Church, about 20 miles away, near a reservation that attracted many Choctaw People and served as the tribal headquarters.

When the Gulf States Mennonite Fellowship formed in 1979 to bring together geographically adjacent Mennonite churches in the South, Nanih Waiya joined that conference.

In 2015 the Nanih Waiya congregation left the Gulf States Mennonite Conference. This move was part of a larger withdrawal 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. Nanih Waiya continued as a Mennonite congregation associated with the Good News Fellowship.


"Bomb church third time." Gospel Herald 60, no. 3 (17 January 1967): 66.

"Bombed church rebuilt." Gospel Herald 59, no. 24 (21 June 1966): 562.

"Choctaw and Blackfeet invite volunteers." Gospel Herald 65, no. 47 (5 December 1972): 991-992.

"A church at Nanih Waiya" Gospel Herald 56, no. 14 (9 April 1963): 304.

"A dynamite explosion...." Gospel Herald 59, no. 8 (1 March 1966): 197.

"Mennonite church bombed in Mississippi." Gospel Herald 57, no. 38 (29 September 1964): 852.

"Nanih Waiya rebuilt." Gospel Herald 60, no. 10 (14 March 1967): 237-238.

Roth, Carol. "Church burglarized, stolen heater causes fire." TheMennonite 15, no. 12 (December 2012): 6.

"Some can't live with their fears." Gospel Herald 57, no. 44 (10 November 1964): 985.

Additional Information

Address: Nanih Waiya Road, Preston, Neshoba County, Mississippi

Map Coordinates: 32.902082, -88.925816



Denominational Affiliations: Good News Fellowship

Pastoral Leaders at Nanih Waiya Indian Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Nevin V. Bender (1892-1975) 1962-1973
David Glenn "Glenn" Myers (1937-2023) 1966-1973
Rudy J. Detweiler (1924-2010) 1974-1977?
Ethan J. Good (1929-2021) 1977-2014
Mark R. Roth 1996-2010
W. Harvey Yoder 2002?-?

Nanih Waiya Indian Mennonite Church Membership

1964 22
1970 23
1980 40
1990 56
2000 42
2009 42

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published November 2023

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Nanih Waiya Indian Mennonite Church (Preston, Mississippi, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2023. Web. 19 Apr 2024.,_Mississippi,_USA)&oldid=177792.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (November 2023). Nanih Waiya Indian Mennonite Church (Preston, Mississippi, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 April 2024, from,_Mississippi,_USA)&oldid=177792.

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