First Mennonite Church (Wadsworth, Ohio, USA)

Jump to navigation Jump to search

The First Mennonite Church, Wadsworth, Ohio, USA, had its roots in three families that moved to the area from Montgomery and Berks counties Pennsylvania in summer 1851. These families, including Jonas C. and Esther Nice, Henry and Levina Nice, and John and Katherine (Nice) Alderfer, sought greater economic opportunity. Jacob and Lydia Oberholzer joined them in the fall of 1851. These families were sympathetic to John H. Oberholtzer's proposed reforms of the Franconia Mennonite Conference and thus did not join local Mennonite congregations.

John Oberholtzer ordained Ephraim Hunsberger, one of his followers, as bishop to lead the small group at Wadsworth. Hunsberger moved to Wadsworth in October 1852 and organized the congregation, which first met in a local schoolhouse. With the help of friends in Pennsylvania, the congregation erected a frame church outside the town and dedicated it on 9 October 1853. It used this building until 1892, when it purchased a Congregational church within the town. In 1960, First Mennonite moved to its present location on Trease Road, gaining a much larger sanctuary and greatly expanded Sunday School space.

The congregation launched Sunday School in 1854. It was also instrumental in the creation of the Wadsworth Institute, the first Mennonite effort in North America at higher education. That school existed from 1868 to 1878.

In 2022 the congregation sponsored the Trease Road Child Care Center (TRCCC), using the church's Sunday school rooms. It also administered the MENWA apartments, a 70-unit non-profit senior citizen apartment house for middle to low-income tenants.

In 2022 the congregation was part of the Central District Conference of Mennonite Church USA.


Rich, Elaine Sommers, ed. Walking Together in Faith: The Central District Conference, 1957-1990. Bluffton, Ohio: The Conference, 2003.

The First Hundred Years: First Mennonite Church, Wadsworth, Ohio, 1852-1952. Wadsworth, Ohio: The Church, 1952.

Additional Information

Address: 405 Trease Rd., Wadsworth, Ohio 44281

Phone: 330-331–9289


Denominational Affiliations: Central District Conference Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at First Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Ephraim Hunsberger (1814-1904) 1852-1893
Henry Nice (Assistant)(1822-1902) 1853-1865
Noah C. Hirschy (1867-1925) 1893-1901
John W. Kliewer (1869-1938) 1901-1903
Elmer F. Grubb (1872-1959) 1903-1909
Warren S. Shelly (1885–1952) 1909-1918
Menno M. "M. M." Lehmann (1883-1969) 1919-1922
Louis L. "L. L." Miller (1886-1981) 1922-1927
Wilmer S. Shelly (1893-1981) 1927-1941
Donovan E. Smucker (1915-2001) 1941-1944
Russell L. Mast (1915-2007) 1945-1949
Andrew J. "A. J." Neuenswander (1888-1972) 1949-1962
Roy W. Henry (1916-1995) 1962-1966
Lester Hostetler (1892-1989)(Interim) 1966-1968
Donald R. Steelberg 1968-1983
William Keeney (1922-2006)(Interim) 1983-1984
James R. Mohr (1938- ) 1984-2006?
David H. Kraybill (Interim) 2006-2007
Rachel L. Siemens 2007-2013?
Randy Smith (Interim) 2013-2014
Charles Bontrager 2014-2019
Janette R. "Jan" Croyle 2019-present

Membership at First Mennonite Church

Year Membership
1853 22
1890 77
1900 135
1920 200
1930 178
1940 222
1950 221
1960 248
1970 241
1980 152
1990 113
2000 104
2007 106
2020 80

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Russell L. Mast. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 866. All rights reserved.

Wadsworth First Mennonite Church (General Conference Mennonite [GCM] ), located in Wadsworth, Medina County, Ohio, 12 miles west of Akron, was organized by Ephraim Hunsberger in 1852, who came to Wadsworth from Berks County, Pennsylvania. The first members were three families from the Bally Mennonite (GCM) Church at Hereford, Pennsylvania, who came in 1851. At the dedication of the first meetinghouse on 9 October 1853, twelve were baptized to be added to the charter membership of 10. Hunsberger was ordained 10 October 1852 in Pennsylvania for the new congregation at Wadsworth, and began preaching at Wadsworth the same month. The first deacon was ordained in 1853. In 1892 the congregation purchased its present meetinghouse, a former Congregational church on the corner of College and Pardee streets. The membership in 1957 was 264; A. J. Neuenschwander was the pastor.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published September 2022

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "First Mennonite Church (Wadsworth, Ohio, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2022. Web. 16 Jun 2024.,_Ohio,_USA)&oldid=174170.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (September 2022). First Mennonite Church (Wadsworth, Ohio, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 16 June 2024, from,_Ohio,_USA)&oldid=174170.

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