Weaverland Mennonite Conference

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The Weaverland Mennonite Conference was founded on 6 October 1893, when Bishop Jonas H. Martin and Deacon Daniel Burkholder led a conservative group of several hundred followers to withdraw from the Lancaster Mennonite Conference. This group, popularly called "Martinites," originally objected to the introduction of a pulpit in place of the traditional preachers' table at the Lichty meetinghouse, Weaverland circuit, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1889. In general terms it was founded as a measure of protest against the innovations that came into the Mennonite Church at that time, especially Sunday schools, solemnizing marriages of nonmembers, church charters, and modern church furnishings and buildings. Eventually, Jonas Martin's group joined with the followers of Abraham Martin, leader of the 1889 Martinite division of Waterloo County and elsewhere in Ontario, and the followers of Jacob Wisler, leader of the Wisler division of 1873 in Elkhart County, Indiana, to form the Old Order Mennonites.

When Bishop Jonas Martin died in 1925, Moses Horning (1970-1955), who had been junior bishop in the Weaverland Conference, refused to continue to expel members of the church who owned cars. Those who wished to continue the ban on cars withdrew from the conference under the leadership of Joseph O. Wenger in 1926, forming the Groffdale Old Order Mennonite Conference. This still more conservative faction became commonly known as the "Wengerites," while those who followed Moses Horning  became known as "Horning people" or Horning Mennonites, although their official name was Weaverland Conference of Old Order Mennonites, later changed to Weaverland Mennonite Conference.

Membership in 1955 numbered 1,710, with congregations at Weaverland, Groffdale, Martindale, Bowmansville, Churchtown, Pequea, Meadow Valley, and Springville in Lancaster County; Fairview and Myerstown in Lebanon County; and Witmer and Stony Brook in York County. About half of their services were still conducted in German in the 1950s. At that time they have no missions, Sunday schools, summer Bible schools, nor youth activities. They had automobiles, but painted the bumpers black and were therefore sometimes termed the "Black Bumpers" or the Black Bumper Mennonites. They were chiefly farmers and lived mostly in the northeast sector of Lancaster County. The bishops in 1953 were Moses Horning, Joseph Hostetter, and Joseph O. Weaver. The conference in 1953 included 11 ministers and eight deacons.

In 1994 the Weaverland Mennonite Conference had 4,767 members. By this time, black bumpers were no longer mandatory, but the conference dictated which types of automobiles its members were permitted to own. For example, two-door and two-passenger cars were considered to be unacceptable. Convertibles, t-roofs, and sunroofs were prohibited, as were high-powered engines in small cars. Trucks and vans could not be multi-colored.

See Old Order Mennonites, Pennsylvania


Scott, Stephen. An Introduction to Old Order and Conservative Mennonite Groups. People's Place Book #12. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 1996: 73, 79-81.

Author(s) Ira D. Landis
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published October 2010

Cite This Article

MLA style

Landis, Ira D. and Richard D. Thiessen. "Weaverland Mennonite Conference." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2010. Web. 26 Sep 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Weaverland_Mennonite_Conference&oldid=135260.

APA style

Landis, Ira D. and Richard D. Thiessen. (October 2010). Weaverland Mennonite Conference. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 September 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Weaverland_Mennonite_Conference&oldid=135260.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 813. All rights reserved.

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