Wood River Mennonite Church (Wood River, Nebraska, USA)

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Wood River Mennonite Church in Wood River, Nebraska on 7 July 1948.
Source: Mennonite Community Photograph Collection, The Congregation (HM4-134 Box 1 photo 010.6-22.
Mennonite Church USA Archives, Goshen, Indiana
Wood River Mennonite Church

In Spring 1905, six Amish Mennonite families from Seward County, Nebraska, and Deuel County, Nebraska, moved to the Wood River area of Hall County. They bought farms that were somewhat cheaper in that area.

Nicholas E. Roth, a minister from Julesburg, Colorado, helped the group begin a Sunday school in the Society of Friends Church located five miles north and one east of Wood River. David D. Stutzman was the first superintendent.

By early 1906 the group organized a congregation known as the Wood River Amish Mennonite Church. Joseph Schlegel, the bishop at Milford, Nebraska, ordained Joseph E. Zimmerman as minister for the group on 27 August 1906.

In 1908/09 the congregation built its own church northwest of Wood River and dedicated it on 14 February 1909.

During World War I, Preacher Ammon Stoltzfus agreed under duress to purchase war bonds, a decision followed by a number of other Amish Mennonite churches in the West.

In the 1920s, the Wood River congregation helped in the formation of the Broken View Mennonite Church near Broken Bow, Nebraska. Wood River was part of the Western Amish Mennonite Conference. It became part of the Iowa-Nebraska Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church (MC) in 1921 when the Amish Mennonites and Mennonites west of the Mississippi merged.

During the Depression years and into the early 1940s, a number of families left the community. Some moved to Oregon, others to Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Iowa. This included the minister, Ammon Stoltzfus, who moved to Iowa.

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

In 2023 the congregation was part of the Central Plains Conference of Mennonite Church USA.


Kuhlmann, Paul. "A brief history of the Mennonites in Nebraska." M.A. thesis, Municipal University of Omaha, 1953. https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1362&context=studentwork.

Stoltzfus, Ammon E. "History of Wood River congregation." Mennonite Historical Bulletin 17, no. 1 (January 1956): 4-5.

Yoder, Holly Blosser. The same spirit: History of Iowa-Nebraska Mennonites. Freeman, S.D.: Central Plains Mennonite Conference, 2003: 56, 99, 283-284.

Additional Information

Address: 14988 West Husker Highway, Wood River, Nebraska 68883-9719

Phone: 308-583-2087

Website: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064771594504

Denominational Affiliations: Central Plains Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Pastoral Leaders at Wood River Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Joseph E. Zimmerman (1880-1949)
Ammon E. Stoltzfus (1872-1965) 1910-1941
Alvin Gascho (1906-1982) 1941-1960
Arthur M. Stutzman (Deacon)(Interim) 1960-1962
Amos "Leroy" Gingerich (1908-2006) 1962-1965?
Cloy Roth 1968-1982?
Daniel O. Miller (Assistant) 1980-1981?
Irvin A. Nussbaum (1925-2014) 1983-1987
George Hansen 1988?-1994
Denton R. Jantzi 1994-2002?
Darrell Holzinger 2006?-2012?
Matthew Troyer-Miller 2012-2023

Membership at Wood River Mennonite Church

Year Membership
1913 86
1920 104
1930 123
1940 129
1950 81
1960 48
1970 44
1980 64
1990 85
2000 85
2009 72
2020 50

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Alvin Gascho. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 976. All rights reserved.

Wood River Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church), located in Wood River, Hall County, Nebraska, a member of the Iowa-Nebraska Mennonite Conference, had its beginning in 1904-1905 when a group of Mennonites from Milford, Nebraska, about 100 miles east of Wood River, settled in this neighborhood. Among the group were the John B. Jantzi, David D. Stutzman, Peter Zehr, Mose Zehr, and Ruel Riley families. In the fall of 1905 they or­ganized a Sunday school and soon afterward a con­gregation. Their first meeting place was in a rented building located 1.5 miles east and 5 miles north of Wood River. In the fall and winter of 1908-1909 a plot of land was obtained 4.5 miles north and 1 mile west of Wood River, on which a frame building, with seating capacity of about 200, was erected.

Joseph E. Zimmerman was ordained the first min­ister in 1906. The ministers in 1958 were William R. Eicher, bishop, and Alvin Gascho, minister, and the membership was 49.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published July 2023

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Wood River Mennonite Church (Wood River, Nebraska, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2023. Web. 17 Apr 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Wood_River_Mennonite_Church_(Wood_River,_Nebraska,_USA)&oldid=176332.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (July 2023). Wood River Mennonite Church (Wood River, Nebraska, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 April 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Wood_River_Mennonite_Church_(Wood_River,_Nebraska,_USA)&oldid=176332.

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