Science Ridge Mennonite Church (Sterling, Illinois, USA)

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The Benjamin and Catherine Stauffer family from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was the first Mennonite Church (MC) background family to arrive in Woodside County, Illinois, in 1852. Others from Lancaster and Bucks counties, Pennsylvania soon followed. The immediate community was known as Science Ridge because of the local school. Consequently, the local Mennonite congregation became known as Science Ridge, though sometimes it was also called the Sterling Mennonite Church after the nearby town.

The local Mennonites built their first meetinghouse in 1858 but did not formally organize until 16 January 1859. Thirteen years later, the congregation added an addition, and in 1882, it lengthened the building and constructed a basement put under it with a wood furnace. It added a wing in 1921, along with electric lights. The congregation constructed a new facility and dedicated it on 7 May 1967.

Science Ridge was one of the charter members of the Illinois Mennonite Conference in 1872, a regional conference that related to the Mennonite Church (MC). It hosted the first meeting of the Illinois conference on 24 May 1872.

Melinda Ebersole became the first permanent mission worker in the Mennonite Church in 1894, serving 20 years in Chicago. Noah Byers was the first president of Goshen College in 1903. Both were members at Science Ridge.

The Science Ridge women organized the first "Sisters Meeting Day" in 1900. They met to make items for Mennonite institutions and persons in need, as well as share a worship time.

Science Ridge mentored the West Sterling Mennonite Church, a mission begun by Jonas Baer, a Lutheran, in 1928.

After Robert Smith resigned as Science Ridge's pastor, a portion of the congregation decided to start a separate Fellowship and, in January 2007, formed the Community Mennonite Fellowship.


Centennial anniversary 1858-1958. Sterling, Ill.: Science Ridge Mennonite Church, 1958.

Smith, Willard H. Mennonites in Illinois. Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite History, 24. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1983: 43-44, 191-193, 198-199, 212, 293, 551.

Wade, Mary Helen. "Science Ridge Mennonite Church History." Sterling Rock Falls Historical Society. 2008. Web. 19 February 2024.

Additional Information

Address: 1702 East 37th Street, Sterling, Illinois 61081-4047

Phone: 815-626-0538


Denominational Affiliations: Illinois Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at Science Ridge Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Abrahm E. Detweiler 1858-ca. 1875
Benjamin Hershey (1814-1888)
Joseph Allebaugh 1862-1863
Benjamin Lapp 1863-1866
Henry Nice (1822-1892)
Henry Yother (1810-1900)(Bishop) 1868-1869
Abraham Ebersole (1823-1892) 1869-1889
John W. Rutt (1819-1904) 1869-1870
John Reisner 1881-1889
Philip Nice (1845-1914) 1891-1902
John L. Rutt 1897-1899
Samuel Good (1878-1905) 1904-1905
Aaron C. "A. C." Good (1881-1978)
Amos E. Kreider (1889-1976) 1918-1921
Robert W. Keller (1926-1997) 1950-1954
Jacob "J. Frederick" Erb (1922-1985) 1956-1962
Edwin J. Stalter (1922-2006)
Mark N. Lehman 1973-1978
Philip N. Helmuth 1978-1983
LeRoy Kennel (Interim) 1983-1984
David O. Bell 1984-1985
S. Roy Kaufman 1986-1995
Marlin Thomas (Interim) 1995-1997
C. Timothy Rust 1998-2002?
Mervin Miller (Interim) 2002?-2003?
Robert Smith (Interim) 2003?-2006?
Arnold Owens 2007-2022?
Jacob Landis 2023-

Science Ridge Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1914 152
1920 183
1930 245
1940 200
1950 243
1960 209
1970 257
1980 236
1990 229
2000 148
2009 104
2020 72

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Aaron C. Good. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 489. All rights reserved.

Science Ridge Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA), located two miles north of Sterling, Whiteside County, Illinois, is a member of the Illinois Mennonite Conference. The first Mennonites to arrive in this area (1852) were Benjamin Stauffer and wife from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 1865 a group of 55 came from Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The church was organized in 1858. At first the preaching was all in German, and services were held only every two weeks. Sunday school was not attempted until 1882. The greatest spiritual awakening came with the John S. Coffman revivals in 1889, when at one time 45 were added to the church. A. C. Good (ordained preacher in 1906, bishop in 1934) served as pastor 1906-1952. In 1957 the membership was 208, with J. Frederick Erb as pastor and bishop.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published February 2024

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Science Ridge Mennonite Church (Sterling, Illinois, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2024. Web. 17 Apr 2024.,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=178317.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (February 2024). Science Ridge Mennonite Church (Sterling, Illinois, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 April 2024, from,_Illinois,_USA)&oldid=178317.

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