Sugar Creek Mennonite Church (Wayland, Iowa, USA)

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The Sugar Creek Mennonite Church began as early as 1855 when Bishop Joseph Goldsmith moved to Lee County, Iowa from Butler County, Ohio. In 1857 he moved near Trenton and organized what became the Sugar Creek congregation. Joseph Wittrig, a minister from Canada, helped with the work.

As the congregation grew, it established a new worship location in Washington County. John von Gunden and Peter Tschantz served the original Henry County group, and Joseph Wittrig and Christian Bechler served the Washington County group. Joseph Goldsmith continued as bishop of both.

The two groups began to disagree, and the Washington County group ordained Benjamin Eicher as a minister in 1862. Eicher was more progressive and also a strong proponent of temperance. A final break between the two groups took place in 1874. The Eicher group built a meetinghouse in 1868 and eventually joined the Middle District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church. It became known as the Eicher Emmanuel Mennonite Church.

The Sugar Creek group in Henry County continued to meet in homes until 1871, when it built a meetinghouse 1.5 miles southeast of Marshall (now Wayland). Sebastian Gerig (minister, later bishop) suggested to his family and friends that Sugar Creek would be a good name for the church since the church building was located near a creek by that name. It soon began a Sunday school at the meetinghouse. The congregation built a new, larger church in 1891; it was dedicated on 25 October 1891. It constructed another new building in 1908. Renovations took place in 1935, 1938, and 1949. It built a separate fellowship hall in 1957.

Young People's meetings began in 1893 on Sunday evenings. They consisted of singing, Scripture reading, poetry reading, and study of the Sunday school lesson. By 1923 this evolved into a literary society, and in 1949 into a Mennonite Youth Fellowship. The congregation continued to use German in worship until Simon Gingerich was ordained in 1908. All worship became English during World War I. The first sewing circle began in 1910 for the purpose of making clothing for the Kansas City Mission.

In 1949, the congregation considered establishing a new place of worship north of Wayland. This became the Bethel Mennonite Church which was dedicated on 29 January 1950. Sugar Creek also helped to launch the Pleasant View Mennonite Church at Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

As part of the realignment of the Mennonite Church (MC) and General Conference Mennonite Church into Mennonite Church USA, First Mennonite was among the congregations that joined the new Central Plains Mennonite Conference in 2000.

In 2023 the congregation was part of the Central Plains Conference of Mennonite Church USA.


Commerative [sic] booklet: Sugar Creek Mennonite Church 1871-1971. Wayland, Iowa: The Church, 1971.

"Sugar Creek Mennonite Church." WikiTree. 30 March 2013. Web. 3 July 2023.

"Sugar Creek Mennonite Church History." Church website. Web. 3 July 2023.

Yoder, Holly Blosser. The same spirit: History of Iowa-Nebraska Mennonites. Freeman, S.D.: Central Plains Mennonite Conference, 2003.

Additional Information

Address: 1209 Franklin Avenue, Wayland, Iowa 52654

Phone: 319-256-6061


Denominational Affiliations: Central Plains Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastors at Sugar Creek Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Joseph Goldsmith (1796-1876)(Bishop) 1852-1876
Joseph Wittrig (1816-1902) 1856-1862
Christian Bechler (1827-1893) 1860-1874
Peter Tschantz (1831-1895) 1860-1885
John von Gunden (1827-1906) 1861-1887
Joseph K. Roth (1828-1882) 1863-1882
Joseph Schlegel (1837-1913)
Sebastian Gerig (1839-1924)
Stephen T. Miller (1844-1893) 1879-1893
Daniel Graber (1858-1930) 1893-1930
John Wagler (1861-1949) 1904-1920
Simon Gingerich (1882-1971)
Christian L. Graber (1895-1987) 1922-1924
Ellis R. Zook (1899-1974) 1928-1933
Willard R. Leichty (1906-1988) 1935-1958
Vernon E. Roth (1909-1992) 1949-1958
Vernon S. Gerig (1907-1988) 1949-1971
Robert L. Hartzler (1936-2022)
Orie L. Roth 1971-1980
Carl L. Smeltzer (Interim) 1979
Edmond F. Miller 1980-1988
Murray Krabill (Interim) 1988-1989
Dean Swartzendruber (1927-2011) 1989-1993
Reuben Chupp 1990-2000
Roger Farmer 1993-2002
Sharon Wyse Miller (Interim) 2002-2003
Nathan Luitjens 2004-2020
Rachelle Luitjens 2014-2022
Kent McDougal (Interim) 2022-

Sugar Creek Mennonite Church Membership

Year Membership
1916 380
1920 392
1925 422
1930 468
1935 483
1940 542
1945 553
1950 559
1952 606
1953 471
1955 455
1960 398
1965 403
1970 395
1975 363
1980 354
1985 362
1990 332
1995 332
2000 350
2009 314
2020 293

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Melvin Gingerich. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 653. All rights reserved.

Sugar Creek Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church), located 1.5 miles southeast of Wayland, Iowa, a member of the Iowa-Nebraska Conference, had its beginning in 1843, when Amish Mennonite settlers arrived in the area. When Joseph Goldsmith, an Amish bishop who had been living in Lee County, Iowa, moved into the community in 1855, regular church services were instituted, although he may have organized the congregation two years previously. For a period of years there were two places of worship, but in 1862 the northern part of the settlement established a separate congregation, the Eicher Emmanuel Mennonite Church. The Sugar Creek bishops were influential in the Amish Mennonite meeting (Dienerversammlung) and later in the Western District Amish Mennonite Conference. Joseph Schlegel served as bishop of the church 1868-1879, followed by Sebastian Gerig 1879-1924, Simon Gingerich 1916-1957, and Vernon Gerig 1953-1959. In 1950 a second meetinghouse for the congregation was dedicated, known as Bethel Mennonite Church. In 1957 the combined membership was 611, of which number 434 were in the Sugar Creek congregation. Vernon Gerig, upon the retirement of Simon Gingerich in 1957, became the leader of the church. He was assisted by Willard Liechty, minister since 1935.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published July 2023

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Sugar Creek Mennonite Church (Wayland, Iowa, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2023. Web. 21 Feb 2024.,_Iowa,_USA)&oldid=176229.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (July 2023). Sugar Creek Mennonite Church (Wayland, Iowa, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 February 2024, from,_Iowa,_USA)&oldid=176229.

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