Zion Mennonite Church (Bluffton, Ohio, USA)

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Zion Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church), now extinct, formerly called Riley Creek, was founded in 1848 about five miles (eight km) west of Bluffton, Allen County, Ohio, by John Thut and a number of his Swiss Mennonite friends. On 25 September 1843 Thut had been ordained minister at the Longenecker Mennonite Church. He and his family were making the wagon-trail journey to Elkhart County, Indiana, when Swiss friends near Bluffton persuaded him to settle in Allen County. But when, at the first communion service, the Swiss did not observe feetwashing, Thut's group withdrew and in 1862 erected the Riley Creek church west of Bluffton. Isaac Steiner, Thut's first helper in the ministry, withdrew when he was criticized for attending his wife's church (the Winebrennerians). Christian Bare, ordained in 1856, left in 1857 to accept the offer of a farm to preach for the Yellow Creek congregation in Elkhart County, Indiana. David Geiger, ordained c1858, united with the Herrites (Reformed Mennonites). In October 1857 John Thut was ordained bishop. In August 1867, after a tour of some of the Ohio churches he became ill with typhoid fever and died on 23 August. Abraham Steiner and Christian P. Steiner, ordained in 1869, the former very conservative and the other progressive, could not agree and were both silenced. Abraham Steiner left to found an Egli (Defenseless) Mennonite Church (now Fellowship of Evangelical Churches), taking with him the deacon. C. P. Steiner was reinstated and worked patiently to rebuild the congregation. Finally with the help of John S. Coffman and Ohio evangelists he built one of the strongest MC congregations in the state. Most of the members were descendants of John Thut or related to the family by marriage. M. S. Steiner was a prominent minister. In 1892 the congregation erected a new church building which they named Zion.

During the second decade of the present century the leadership of the Zion congregation passed into the hands of instructors of Bluffton College who had resigned their positions at Goshen College. In the late 1920s, after some difficulties with the Ohio Mennonite and Eastern Amish Mennonite Joint Conference, the congregation voted to disband and razed the building. The majority of the congregation united with the Bluffton First Mennonite Church (General Conference Mennonite). A small cemetery marks the location of the former Riley Creek meetinghouse.


"Bishop John Thut." Herald of Truth 4 (September 1867). Reproduced in MennObits. "Herald of Truth Obituaries - September, 1867." Web. 4 May 2010. http://www.mcusa-archives.org/MennObits/1867/HT09.67.html.

Stoltzfus, Grant M. Mennonites of the Ohio and Eastern Conference; From the Colonial Period in Pennsylvania to 1968. Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite history, no. 13. Scottdale, Pa: Herald Press, 1969: 52. Available in full electronic text at http://www.mcusa-archives.org/library/omh/index.htm.

Umble, John S. "Zion (Bluffton) Congregation" in "Early Mennonite Sunday Schools of Northwestern Ohio." Mennonite Quarterly Review 5 (1931): 179-197.

Author(s) John S Umble
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Umble, John S. "Zion Mennonite Church (Bluffton, Ohio, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 6 Dec 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Zion_Mennonite_Church_(Bluffton,_Ohio,_USA)&oldid=143676.

APA style

Umble, John S. (1959). Zion Mennonite Church (Bluffton, Ohio, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 6 December 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Zion_Mennonite_Church_(Bluffton,_Ohio,_USA)&oldid=143676.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1032. All rights reserved.

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