Washington County (Maryland) and Franklin County (Pennsylvania) Mennonite Conference

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1959 Article

The earliest reference to this Mennonite Church conference is found in the November 1864 issue of the Herald of Truth, where it is called semiannual; however, only annual sessions are known to have been held.

By earliest reports the moderator of Lancaster Conference served here also, and the Lancaster discipline and actions were used without change until 1915. However, beginning in 1912 additional actions were passed by the Washington County, Maryland, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania Conference. Separate rules and discipline were adopted in 1922, revised in 1930 and 1957. About 1909, 9 congregations and 732 members were reported. Its congregations were all located in the two counties included in its name. Mission outposts are also conducted in Allegany County, Maryland, and Fulton County, Pennsylvania.

The Conference operated nine mission stations and through its District Mission Board the Maugansville Home for the Aged. Its Brotherly Aid Plan was very simply organized but functioned efficiently in case of loss by fire or storm.

The Confession of Dordrecht of 1632 and the Doctrinal Statement of the Mennonite General Conference (MC) were accepted as the basic doctrinal statements. In practice it was among the most conservative of the Mennonite conferences, with most of the men wearing the "plain" coat, and women the "cape" dress in the late 1950s. The woman's veiling was worn at all times. Life insurance, lodge membership, attendance at farm shows, and possession of television were not allowed. A strong home life without radio was encouraged.

This conference belonged to the group related to the Mennonite (MC) General Conference, but has never been organizationally connected with it, though it supported many of its projects, and proportionately contributed largely to the medical, teaching, missionary, and preaching personnel of the church. Since the adoption of the English language at the turn of the century and the use of more aggressive methods the conference has grown. In 1959 there were 14 congregations, 9 mission congregations, 4 resident bishops, 20 ministers, and 1,645 members.

In 1938 Moses K. Horst (1882-1966) became bishop in the Washington County, Maryland churches. Horst believed that the outward symbols of non-conformity as practiced by the Mennonite Church were scriptural and must be kept at all costs. Horst was successful in leading the churches in his district away from the modern trends affecting those in other areas of the Mennonite Church. However, tensions developed between the southern district where Horst was bishop and the northern district, Franklin County. The breaking point came in 1963 when Horst disciplined members for helping at two independent Mennonite missions that had been established on the eastern border of his district. Horst believed that these unauthorized missions had the potential of exerting a more liberal influence on his churches. Horst refused any interference from others, and in 1965 he declared all the ministry in the northern district to be out of order. At that time, there were nine congregations consisting of 597 members in the southern district, all located in Maryland. Three other Maryland congregations that did not agree with Moses Horst's positions had left the southern district in 1964 and later helped to form the Cumberland Valley Mennonite Conference.

For a time the Washington County churches were known as the Washington-Franklin (South) Conference while the Franklin County churches were known as the Washington-Franklin (North) Conference. In 1979 the northern conference changed its name to the Franklin Mennonite Conference, while the southern churches saw themselves as a continuation of the conference and became more commonly known as the Washington-Franklin Mennonite Conference. -- J. Irvin Lehman

1990 Article

The Washington-Franklin Mennonite Conference consisted in 1987 of 10 congregations with a membership of 900. Five congregations were formed since 1959: Pondsville and Pinesburg in Washington County, Maryland; Waynecastle in Franklin County, Pennsylvania; Flintstone in Allegany County, Maryland; and Lockards Creek in Clay County, Kentucky. The conference had one bishop, 13 ministers, and six deacons. Conference sessions were held annually on the second Thursday of September at the Reiff's Meeting House. The conference rules and discipline of 1957 were revised in 1978.

The conference mission board operated the Mennonite Old Peoples Home at Maugansville, Maryland. The conference Mennonite Mutual Aid Plan provided help to those who experienced fire or lightning damage. The Washington County Mennonite Church Association gave aid in case of liability in vehicle accidents. The conference operated the Paradise Mennonite School, Flintstone Mennonite School, and the Lockards Creek Mennonite School. -- D. Richard Martin

2010 Update

In 2010 the Washington-Franklin Mennonite Church was led by bishops Darrel E. Martin, Dale L. Horst, Glenn R. Martin, and Larry R. Weber. The conference periodical was the Brotherhood Builder and it operated eight schools throughout the United States, the Washington County Mennonite Historical Library in Hagerstown, Maryland, the Mennonite Home in Maugansvile, Maryland, and Christian Correspondence and Counsel in Nazareth, Ethiopia. In 2010 the conference had 1,670 members in 17 congregations:

Congregation Location State/Country Founded Members
Cedar Valley Mennonite Church Chambersburg Pennsylvania 2006 110
Clear Spring Mennonite Church Clear Spring Maryland 1810 91
Flintstone Mennonite Church Flintstone Maryland 1925 51
Friends Cove Mennonite Church Bedford Pennsylvania 1998 89
Good Hope Mennonite Church Washington Court House Ohio 2006 35
Lincoln County Mennonite Church Crab Orchard Kentucky 1998 47
Meadow View Mennonite Church Hagerstown Maryland 1988 96
Miller Mennonite Church Leitersburg Maryland 1765 177
Nazareth Mennonite Church Nazareth Ethiopia 2004 10
Paces Creek Mennonite Church Manchester Kentucky 1978 61
Paradise Mennonite Church Hagerstown Maryland 1897 141
Pinesburg Mennonite Church Williamsport Maryland 1923 88
Pondsville Mennonite Church Smithsburg Maryland 1954 86
Port-de-Paix Mennonite Mission Port-de-Paix Haiti 1993 35
Reiff Mennonite Church Hagerstown Maryland 1833 287
Stouffer Mennonite Church Edgemont Maryland 1820 142
Waynecastle Mennonite Church Waynesboro Pennsylvania 1982 124
Total 1,670


Horsch, James E., ed. Mennonite Yearbook and Directory. Scottdale: Mennonite Publishing House (1984): 100; (1988-89).

Mennonite Church Directory 2010. Harrisonburg, VA: Christian Light Publications, Inc., 2010: 129-131.

Scott, Stephen. An Introduction to Old Order and Conservative Mennonite Groups. People's Place Book #12. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 1996: 171-172.

Author(s) J. Irvin Lehman
D. Richard Martin
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published October 2010

Cite This Article

MLA style

Lehman, J. Irvin, D. Richard Martin and Richard D. Thiessen. "Washington County (Maryland) and Franklin County (Pennsylvania) Mennonite Conference." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2010. Web. 5 Feb 2023. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Washington_County_(Maryland)_and_Franklin_County_(Pennsylvania)_Mennonite_Conference&oldid=122690.

APA style

Lehman, J. Irvin, D. Richard Martin and Richard D. Thiessen. (October 2010). Washington County (Maryland) and Franklin County (Pennsylvania) Mennonite Conference. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 5 February 2023, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Washington_County_(Maryland)_and_Franklin_County_(Pennsylvania)_Mennonite_Conference&oldid=122690.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 892, 894; vol. 5, p. 921. All rights reserved.

©1996-2023 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.