Rod and Staff Publishers (Crockett, Kentucky, USA)

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In the 1950s a number of conservative Mennonite leaders and their congregations became increasingly uncomfortable with changes taking place in the Mennonite Church (MC) in the USA and Canada. They lamented a weakening in teaching against wedding rings, cut hair for women, modesty in dress and issues like purchase of life insurance and increasing divorce and remarriage. By 1960 this led to withdrawals from multiple district Mennonite conferences including Franconia, Lancaster, Virginia, Ohio and Eastern, Ontario, North Central, Iowa-Nebraska, Pacific Coast, and the Conservative Mennonite Conference.

The leaders of this movement believed the literature produced by the denomination’s Mennonite Publishing House was no longer theologically trustworthy and worked against the perspectives and teachings of the conservative movement.

In 1958 three meetings were held in Amelia, Virginia at the Pilgrim Mennonite Church. At the third meeting a seven-person publishing board was established under the name Pilgrim Mennonite Press. In 1959 this group merged with the Herald of Truth, based in Hartville, Ohio to form Herald of Truth Publications, Inc. The chair of the merged board was Paul M. Landis, of Norfolk, Virginia.

In 1960 Pilgrim Mennonite Press decided to operate independently of Herald of Truth. It moved its operation to Crockett, Kentucky, where Paul M. Landis had just moved to help launch a new unaffiliated Mennonite congregation known as the Faith Hills Mennonite Church. With the move to Kentucky, the name of the venture was changed to Rod and Staff Publishers, Inc. Paul M. Landis served as Rod and Staff’s publisher until about 1985 when he was succeeded by Wayne Beachy.

The company’s first building was erected in 1960, a second building in 1964, a third in 1970, a fourth in 1972 and a fifth in 1974. Two of the buildings were enlarged in the 1980s and 1990s.

The earliest publications were Sunday school curriculum for adults. In 1961 Christian Example, a periodical for youth was launched. In 1963 Rod and Staff took over publication of Pearl of Great Price (later Christian Contender) for adults. Other periodicals for children (Wee Lambs and Christian Pathway) began in 1964, and outreach literature in English and Spanish began in 1967.

Textbook publishing also began in 1963 and expanded over time into the large home-schooling market that developed in North America.

Rod and Staff began publishing Christian fiction for children and adults in 1967.

A fire on 29 September 1984 destroyed the building containing the bookstore, business office, shipping department, warehouse facilities and paper supplies. Much stock was lost, and it took several years for production and backlist items to return to normal.

In 2018 Ellis Kropf was chair of the board for Rod & Staff.


Erb, Paul. “Herald of Truth Publications.” Gospel Herald (12 May 1959): 439.

Erb, Paul. “Schism is judgment.” Gospel Herald (13 September 1960): 795-796.

“Welcome to Rod and Staff: a brief history of Rod and Staff Publishers, Inc.” Rod & Staff Employee Handbook. Crockett, Kentucky: Rod and Staff Publishers, 2002.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published February 2019

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MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Rod and Staff Publishers (Crockett, Kentucky, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2019. Web. 18 May 2024.,_Kentucky,_USA)&oldid=175163.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (February 2019). Rod and Staff Publishers (Crockett, Kentucky, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2024, from,_Kentucky,_USA)&oldid=175163.

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