Witmer Heights Mennonite Church (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA)
Witmer Heights Mennonite Church, located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA, began in 1970 when more hearing persons were invited to meet with and help support the First Deaf Mennonite Church. (For information on the Deaf congregation see that article). In 1973 two semi-autonomous groups, deaf and hearing, were formed under the name First Deaf Mennonite Church. Both groups were part of the Mellinger District of Lancaster Mennonite Conference. Paul M. Zehr began pastoring the hearing group and newly ordained Raymond E. Rohrer began pastoring the Deaf group. Since 1973 the Deaf congregation has worshipped in American Sign Language (ASL).
From 1973 to 1984 the hearing group met with First Deaf Mennonite Church located at Witmer Road (six miles east of Lancaster). On 11 March 1984 the congregation moved to the former East Lampeter High School which the two groups together purchased and renovated.
In 1995 the hearing group took the name Witmer Heights Mennonite Church. At the same time both the Deaf and hearing groups were incorporated. The bylaws of the corporation state: "The name of this organization is First Deaf Mennonite Church, Inc. Under this name, two congregations exist which are called, First Deaf Mennonite Church and Witmer Heights Mennonite Church."
In 2018 the two congregations alternated their worship and Sunday school hours weekly. On special occasions the two congregations worshipped jointly, as at the annual Christmas program.
Since 1973 the Witmer Heights congregation has provided partial financial support for the Deaf ministry. The Witmer Heights Mennonite Church has appealed to persons interested in attending or have graduated from college. It has also attracted persons who have served the larger church elsewhere and returned to Lancaster County. Some of its young adults have gone on to attend other congregations. Most of its members are employed in professions like school teachers, social workers, nurses, and business administrators.
The congregation’s Sunday morning worship service is less traditional. Once a month, during the week, several small groups meet for fellowship, study, and prayer. The congregation holds an annual weekend retreat. Attendance has averaged 70 to 80 persons.
Bishops who have served the Witmer Heights congregation include Paul G. Landis (1973-1987), Paul M. Zehr (1987-2005), Leon H. Oberholtzer (2005-2009), Jason H. Kuniholm (2010-2016). Bishops in 2018 were Joseph S. Miller and Rodney A. Martin.
Mast, Eldon R. “The First Deaf Mennonite Church 1945-1980.” Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage 11 (January 1988): 2-9.
Nolt, Steven M. Mellinger Mennonite Church; 300 Years of Faithfulness & Mission 1717-2017 Lancaster, Pa.: Mellinger Mennonite Church, 2017: 171-172.
Address: 2270 Old Philadelphia Pike, Lancaster, PA 17602
Pastors at Witmer Heights Mennonite Church
|Paul M. Zehr||1973-1987|
|Marlin G. Martin||1987-1993|
|Chester I. Kurtz||1993-1995|
|Roy H. Bender||1995-2012|
|Author(s)||Paul M Zehr|
|Date Published||December 2018|
Cite This Article
Zehr, Paul M. "Witmer Heights Mennonite Church (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. December 2018. Web. 25 Oct 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Witmer_Heights_Mennonite_Church_(Lancaster,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=162578.
Zehr, Paul M. (December 2018). Witmer Heights Mennonite Church (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 October 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Witmer_Heights_Mennonite_Church_(Lancaster,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=162578.
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