White River Cheyenne Mennonite Church (Busby, Montana, USA)

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White River Cheyenne Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA; originally Busby or Bethany Mennonite Mission Church) is located on Mennonite Church Road, Busby, on the Tongue River Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana, home of the Northern Cheyenne Indians. The work was begun in 1904, by Mr. and Mrs. G. A. Linscheid, who remained in the work until 1920. Other workers up to 1953 included Agnes Williams, 1905-1906; Mr. and Mrs. P. A. Kliewer, 1908-1910; Mr. and Mrs. H. T. Neufeld, 1911-1915; Alfred and Barbara Habegger, 1918-1949; Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Wenger, 1944-1953; and Mr. and Mrs. David L. Habegger, 1949-1950; Mr. and Mrs. John W. Boehr, 1953- . Over 200 had been baptized by 1953, with a 1949 membership of about 100. Both the Cheyenne and English languages were used in this mission work.

The first log chapel was built in 1904. A tornado in 1914 destroyed the chapel, but it was rebuilt in 1915.

In the early 1950s under the vision of missionary Malcolm Wenger, the church began its slow but significant move from being a church that was operated under the control of the General Conference Mennonite Church Mission Board to becoming an indigenous church. First a church council was formed to help make decisions that affected the church.  Then this council began to handle its own funds. The church began calling itself the Bethany Mennonite Church (rather than Mission).  In the late 1960s the church began calling its own pastors. 

In 1975-76, a fellowship hall, kitchen, bathrooms, and Sunday School rooms were added to the chapel with the help of volunteer labor. In 1976 at the dedication of the remodeled facilities, the church group decided to change its name to the White River Cheyenne Mennonite Church. (The Busby band of Cheyennes had been known as the White River People since returning from Oklahoma and South Dakota and this name change seemed more culturally appropriate.).

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


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 304.

"Our History." White River Cheyenne Mennonite Church. Accessed 16 July 2023. https://wrcmcbusby.weebly.com/history.html

Schmidt, Diena, ed. The Northern District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church 1891-1991. Freeman, S.D.: The Conference, 1991: 88-91.

Additional Information

Address: 3 White River Lane, Busby, Montana 59016-0050

Phone: 406-592-3643

Website: https://wrcmcbusby.weebly.com/index.html

Denominational Affiliations: Central Plains Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at White River Cheyenne Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Gustav A. Linscheid (1875-1942) 1904-1920
Agnes Williams (1872-1951) 1905
Peter A. "P. A." Kliewer (1879-1959) 1908-1910
Heinrich T. "H. T." Neufeld (1888-1968) 1913-1915
Alfred Habegger (1892-1956) 1918-1949
H. A. Schlenk 1926-1927
Malcolm Wenger (1919-2003) 1944-1961
David L. Habegger (1925-2020) 1949-1950
John W. Boehr (1920-1977) 1953-1954
Daniel Schirmer (1908-1991) 1961-1965
Walter Dirks 1965-1969
J. R. Downen 1970-1971
Willis H. Busenitz 1971-2022
Pat McFarren 1984-1986
Scott Shreffler (Assistant) 2013-2018
Suzette Shreffler (Community Outreach) 2014-2018
Tim Detweiler (Interim) 2022-

Membership at White River Cheyenne Mennonite Church

Year Membership
1970 26
1980 51
1990 68
2000 60
2009 58
2020 52

Author(s) Alfred Habegger
Samuel J. Steiner
Date Published July 2023

Cite This Article

MLA style

Habegger, Alfred and Samuel J. Steiner. "White River Cheyenne Mennonite Church (Busby, Montana, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2023. Web. 4 Mar 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=White_River_Cheyenne_Mennonite_Church_(Busby,_Montana,_USA)&oldid=176304.

APA style

Habegger, Alfred and Samuel J. Steiner. (July 2023). White River Cheyenne Mennonite Church (Busby, Montana, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 4 March 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=White_River_Cheyenne_Mennonite_Church_(Busby,_Montana,_USA)&oldid=176304.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 480. All rights reserved.

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