Roanoke Mennonite Church (Roanoke, Illinois, USA)

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Roanoke Mennonite Church in Roanoke, Illinois in June 1948.
Source: Mennonite Community Photograph Collection, The Congregation (HM4-134 Box 5 Folder 1 photo 010.5-9).
Mennonite Church USA Archives, Goshen, Indiana

The European settlers in the Roanoke Township, Woodford County, Illinois area came from Butler County, Ohio, Alsace-Lorraine, and Germany beginning in the 1830s, sometimes by circuitous routes. Initially, they had settled in timbered areas and were part of the sprawling Mackinaw Amish Mennonite congregation that met in homes. Gradually, more settlers moved to prairie areas after agricultural equipment improved.

In the summer of 1875, at a meeting in a grove on David Schertz's farm, Bishop Christian Ropp proposed building a meetinghouse for the northern part of the Mackinaw congregation. The Rock Creek congregation had built a meetinghouse for the southern part in 1872. Christian S. Schertz donated an acre of land in 1875 on which the Roanoke Amish Mennonites built their first meetinghouse. David Schertz, a minister who moved to the area in the 1850s and died in 1865, had earlier donated land for a cemetery on the southwest corner of his farm. This meetinghouse served the congregation until 1920 when it decided to build a new church that it dedicated in 1921. It had a seating capacity of 185. The building was enlarged in 1957 to accommodate 325. Further major building additions took place in 1990 and 2000.

Roanoke leaders had participated in the Amish Diener-Versammlungen held from 1862 to 1878. By the mid-1880s, it became part of the Western District Amish Mennonite Conference, the more progressive Amish group in contrast to the developing Old Order Amish. In 1920, along with other Illinois Amish Mennonite congregations, Roanoke became part of the Illinois Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church (MC).

The congregation introduced Sunday school in 1882 and 1883 but then discontinued it for some years because of opposition from older members.

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, helped rebuild the building in 1906, and called it the Harmony Mennonite Church. When the Roanoke congregation built its new meetinghouse in 1920, it left the Harmony work in charge of the Metamora congregation. After the Harmony building was dismantled and moved to Pleasant Hill for that congregation's use, Roanoke pastors alternated preaching at Pleasant Hill for a time. Roanoke also started a mission outreach in Robein, a suburb of East Peoria, in the 1950s. That work ended in the late 1970s.

The sewing circle began in the early 1920s after the construction of the new church. The circle's work benefited the Chicago Home Mission and the Maple Lawn Homes.

The Roanoke congregation suffered a significant division in May 2010. It held a vote to decide whether to remain part of the Illinois Mennonite Conference and Mennonite Church USA. The vote required a 2/3 majority but fell three percent short. At that point, 100 members left to start a new congregation, while only 70 members remained at Roanoke.


Groff, Anna. "Roanoke Church rebounds after members leave: The 70 members who remained wanted to be part of Mennonite Church USA." theMennonite 16, no. 2 (February 2013): 36-37.

"Our history." Roanoke Mennonite Church. 2020? Web. 15 February 2024.

Smith, Willard H. Mennonites in Illinois. Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite History, 24. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1983: 73-74, 550.

Ulrich, Kenneth. History of the Roanoke Mennonite Church...125 years: 1875-2000: understanding of the past, a guide to our future. Eureka, Ill.: The Church, 2000?

Additional Information

Address: 1195 County Road 1600 East, Eureka, IL 61530-9575

Phone: 309-467-3460

Website: Roanoke Mennonite Church

Denominational Affiliations: Western Amish Mennonite Conference

Illinois Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church (MC)

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at Roanoke Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Christian Ropp (1812-1896)
David Schertz (1809-1865) 1850s-1865
Christian Reeser, Sr. (1819-1923) 1867-1923
Joseph Wagner (1836-1894) 1867-1894
Peter Zimmerman (1842-1931) 1878-1906
John Smith (1843-1906)
Christian B. Reeser, Jr. (1859-1940) 1887-ca. 1917
Christian S. Schertz (1854-1932) 1895-1924
Peter D. Schertz (1848-1928) 1895-1928
Andrew Schrock (1863-1949)(Bishop) 1906-1922
Clayton F. Derstine (1891-1967)
Ezra Yordy (1892-1980)
John L. Harnish (1896-1985) 1922-1952
Wesley E. Jantz (1914-2006) 1957-1961
Norman H. Derstine (1920-2005) 1962-1969
Percy Gerig 1969-1977
Moses Slabaugh (1908-2001)(Interim) 1975-1976
Walter Dyck (1908-1986)(Interim) 1977-1978
Norman Yutzy (1930-2000) 1978-1981
Robert L. Harnish (1925-2022) 1979-1987
Kenneth Good (1910-1997)(Interim) 1981-1983
Kenneth "Eldon" King 1983-1990
Richard "Rick" Troyer 1988-2005
Paul C. Sieber (1921-2019)(Interim) 1990-1991
Elmer J. Wyse 1991-2004?
Lay Leadership 2005-2010
Gary Martin (Transitional) 2010-2011
Doug Hicks (Interim) 2011-2012
Alice Kennell 2011-2021?
Mary Kennell 2011-2021?
Bryan Miller 2012-
Jolene Miller 2018-

Roanoke Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1914 162
1920 172
1930 173
1940 241
1950 275
1960 324
1970 359
1980 375
1990 350
2000 372
2009 225
2020 86

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By John D. Hartzler. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 346. All rights reserved.

Roanoke Mennonite Church, located 2 miles west and 2 miles south of Roanoke, Woodford County, Illinois, is a member of the Illinois Conference. Settlers from Ohio, Alsace-Lorraine, and Germany settled in the vicinity in 1829, including David Schertz, the first minister. In 1875 the first frame church was erected and dedicated. This was replaced by a brick church in 1920 with a seating capacity of 185, which was enlarged in 1957 to accommodate 325. The majority of the members are farmers, active and retired. The outstanding early bishop was John Smith (1843-1906), ordained preacher 1887, bishop about 1890. Ezra Yordy, of Eureka, was ordained bishop on 25 September 1925, and served until 1957.

The membership in 1958 was 316. John L. Harnish, ordained minister on 24 December 1922, served until 1952. Wesley Jantz became pastor in 1957.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published February 2024

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Roanoke Mennonite Church (Roanoke, Illinois, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2024. Web. 22 May 2024.,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=178622.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (February 2024). Roanoke Mennonite Church (Roanoke, Illinois, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2024, from,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=178622.

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