Silverwood Mennonite Church (Goshen, Indiana, USA)

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Silverwood Mennonite Church, originally known as Silver Street Mennonite Church, formed in 1892 from a division within the Clinton Township Amish Mennonite community (now Clinton Frame Mennonite Church), in eastern Elkhart County, Indiana, USA.

In the 1880s, change-minded Amish Mennonites (in contrast to the Old Order Amish) were debating the extent of change they would embrace in church practices and lifestyle. Among the most progressive Amish Mennonites was Bishop Joseph Stuckey of Danvers, Illinois. In 1882, Stuckey was invited to Elkhart County where he ordained Daniel J. Johns as minister for the Clinton Frame Amish Mennonites. With no formal conference structures, Amish Mennonites indicated their circles of fellowship with things like invitations to preach and conduct ordinations, so Stuckey’s role signaled the congregation’s general alignment with his progressive inclinations. Six years later, after Clinton Frame joined the newly formed Indiana-Michigan Amish Mennonite Conference, that body began requiring a stricter church discipline than had generally prevailed at Clinton Frame. By 1892 a group of 50 Clinton Frame members, including the senior bishop, Benjamin Schrock, had become dissatisfied with this new direction and invited Stuckey back to Elkhart County to receive them into the “Stuckey Amish” fellowship, later known as the Central Conference Mennonite Church.

Daniel Johns, who remained with Clinton Frame, gave the seceding group $1,000 in recognition of their earlier investment in the Clinton Frame meetinghouse. The new group used the money to construct their own meetinghouse along a section of County Road 34 known locally as Silver Street, and took the name Silver Street Mennonite Church.

As the only Central Conference congregation in the region, Silver Street attracted members from a wide area, drawn to its mix of progressive Mennonitism and support for education and mission work. Silver Street soon spawned two new congregations composed of these geographically dispersed members: Topeka Mennonite in LaGrange County and Eighth Street Mennonite in the town of Goshen.

Examples of Silver Street’s progressive orientation included its young people’s affiliation, as early as 1912, with the national Christian Endeavor Society, an ecumenical Protestant group, and the leading role Silver Street members played in 1932 in incorporating a county-wide credit union (in 2020 known as Interra Credit Union) to revive the economy following Depression-era bank foreclosures.

Particularly under the leadership of Pastor Allen Yoder, Sr., from 1913 to 1935, Silver Street was active in many inter-Mennonite causes. Yoder was a founding member of Mennonite Central Committee, a longtime board member of Congo Inland Mission (today Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission), and a Bluffton College trustee, as well as serving multiple terms as president of the Central Conference.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, the congregation experienced a slow but steady decline in membership as younger people left the rural community for nearby towns and cities. During some of these years, Silver Street was served by a pastor from Pleasant Oaks Mennonite Church in nearby Middlebury. Attendance reached a low of 36 in 1981.

In the early 1980s, new connections with Goshen College students and other people in the city of Goshen contributed to a revisioning process, led by Pastor Vyron Schmidt, that proposed relocating the church. In 1983 property was purchased on the west side of Goshen at West Lincoln Avenue near Silverwood Lane. In October 1984 the congregation moved into a new building there and took the name Silverwood Mennonite Church. In 1990 the church added an education wing and, several years later, a fellowship hall. By 1990, membership had in increased to 193.

In 2007 the traditional pastor/associate pastor leadership model was replaced with a ministry team that included multiple, bivocational ordained leaders. In 2020 attendance was approximately 200.

Support for Central District Conference, the General Conference Mennonite Church and, since 2002, Mennonite Church USA, has generally been strong, as are ties to Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission. Silverwood has maintained a fraternal relationship with the Mennonite Church in Nyanga, West Kasai, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bibliography

Estes, Steven R. Growing in Christ: The Centennial History of the Silverwood Mennonite Church. Goshen, IN: Silverwood Mennonite Church, 1992.

Additional Information

Address: 1745 West Lincoln Ave., Goshen, IN 46526

Phone: 574-533-1922

Website: https://www.silverwoodmc.org/

Denominational Affiliations: Central District Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at Silver Street/Silverwood Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Benjamin Schrock (1819-1895) 1892
John C. Mehl (1850-1948) 1892-1906
Menno A. Niswander (1878-1959) 1906-1911
Alvin K. Ropp (1878-1973) 1911-1913
Allen Yoder, Sr. (1874-1969) 1913-1935
Harry Yoder (1904-2003) 1935-1941
Robert W. Hartzler (1919-1994) 1942-1945
Harvey E. Nunemaker (1893-1972) 1946-1953
William Klassen (1930-2019) 1953-1954
Daniel J. Graber (1929-2012) 1954-1959
Donald R. Emmert 1959-1963
Jacob W. Mierau (1924-2006) 1963-1972
Floyd N. Quenzer 1972-1975
Gary E. Martin 1975-1979
Vyron L. Schmidt 1979-1987
Mark A. Wiens (Associate) 1985-1987
Tim Epp (Interim) 1987-1988
Howard J. Habegger (1932-2018) 1988-1997
Cal D. Zehr (Associate) 1988-1991
Steven E. Slagel (Associate) 1991-1998
Kenneth Bontrager 1998-2005
Jonathan E. Corbin (Associate) 2000-2005
Gary Martin (Interim) 2005-2007
Ministry team era, 2007ff
Ronald D. Guengerich 2007-2015
Janice R. Troyer 2005-2012
2018-
Aimee L. Weishaupt 2007-2013
2017-
Jeremy C. Shue 2010-
Eric Martin 2012-2016
Rachel S. Nolt 2013-2016
Tracy A. Buller 2015-2018
Donna L. Mast 2016-
Jonathan M. Weishaupt 2017-

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Daniel J. Garber. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 528. All rights reserved.

Silver Street Mennonite Church (General Conference Mennonite Church), located in Clinton Township, Elkhart County, Indiana, a member of the Central District, was organized by former members of the Clinton Frame Amish Mennonite Church in Indiana. Due to a number of disagreements regarding church government and ordinances, particularly the prayer covering and the bonnet, in early 1892 the congregation divided into two groups, conservative and progressive, the progressive being the minority group, but including the bishop, Benjamin Schrock. The two groups used the same building for worship services for some months until June 1892, the progressive group using it on Sunday afternoon. The climax came when the progressive group invited Joseph Stucky and Peter Tschantz of Illinois to hold meetings for two weeks in June. On 23 October 1892, the progressive group dedicated a new meetinghouse, the membership being 87, and Benjamin Schrock the pastor, with Jacob Smoker, Daniel Smoker, and Christian Mehl as deacons. The name Silver Street Mennonite Church was adopted. In 1893 J. C. Mehl was asked to provide services in the Topeka area and within the first year a new congregation had begun, members coming from the Silver Street mother church and from the Topeka area. In 1913 a second offspring was born when Alvin K. Ropp, then pastor of the church, organized the Eighth Street Mennonite Church in Goshen. By this time the church had joined the Central Illinois Conference. The Silver Street congregation reached its peak of 250 members in 1924 under the leadership of Allen Yoder. In 1958 it had 130 members.

The Silver Street church has had the following pastors besides Benjamin Schrock 1892: John C. Mehl 1892-1906, M. A. Niswander 1906-1911, A. K. Ropp 1911-1913, Allen Yoder 1913-1935, Harry Yoder 1935-1941, Robert Hartzler 1942-1945, H. E. Nunemaker 1946-1953, William Klassen 1953-1954, Daniel Graber 1954-    .


Author(s) Steven Nolt
Date Published May 2020


Cite This Article

MLA style

Nolt, Steven. "Silverwood Mennonite Church (Goshen, Indiana, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2020. Web. 12 Jul 2020. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Silverwood_Mennonite_Church_(Goshen,_Indiana,_USA)&oldid=168152.

APA style

Nolt, Steven. (May 2020). Silverwood Mennonite Church (Goshen, Indiana, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 12 July 2020, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Silverwood_Mennonite_Church_(Goshen,_Indiana,_USA)&oldid=168152.




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