DRAFT ONLY Work In Progress (please forgive errors and omissions) Please pray and use your Christian Discernment before you do anything with the personal information in this blog) Please send me your comments.
ORDINANCES (see the 1858 section)
For My Most Passionate Opinions pertaining to Schisms see the last part of the 1849 section.
For My Martin family Ministry connections see 1999-89 and 1893 sections
NOTE: My Personal Summation is on the last few pages.
START OF DRAFT
In 1525 Conrad Grebel c1498-1526 separated from the royal-state religion when he advocated against infant baptism and passionately advocated for Adult baptism. Conrad Grebel was anything but a typical Mennonite or Anabaptist prior to his complete life-change!!! See the excellent info online at; http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Grebel,_Conrad_(ca._1498-1526)
above pic of Conrad Grebel found online at gameo.org (an excellent Mennonite Website)
In 1545 Menno Simons (where the name Mennonite came from) separated from the royal-state religion when he advocated against infant baptism and passionately advocated for Adult baptism. Menno Simon was anything but a typical Mennonite or Anabaptist prior to his complete life-change!!! See the excellent info online at; http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Menno_Simons_(1496-1561)
From 1527 to 1597 Anabaptist’s (including all Mennonites) were aggressively hunted and officially executed by the Royal-Catholic Church.
From 1598 to c1740 Anabaptist’s (including all Mennonites) continued to be hunted and persecuted and imprisoned and tortured AND their property was confiscated by the State and its rulers. Especially in the latter part of this era, the state and its supporters were just as covetous of the Anabaptist’s productive farmland and property as they were in getting rid of the Anabaptist religion, while at the same time the Catholics would appear more “politically correct” by not relying primarily on “Official Executions” I personally am completely convinced that there were more far more deaths of Anabaptist’s from 1598 to c1740 than the whole previous period, simply due to the extreme deprivation and degradation that was forced upon them and their families and because the Anabaptist’s exploded in numbers of individual converts and adherents from 1598 to 1740.
From 1598 to 1700 many Anabaptist’s (and most all Mennonites and those who would become Amish) literally fled “into the hills” and out of Switzerland into areas of Europe where the Royal rulers and The State Catholic Religion were not exercising complete dictatorial control.
1632 According to the Postscript to the Foregoing 18 Articles (Confession of Faith) found on page 33 of “First Edition Published by The Weaverland Conference 1996” and also Published by the “committee Old Order Mennonites” (in Ontario in 1989) I scanned and copied text as follows;
***begin of scan/copy***
Postscript to the foregoing 18 Articles
“From an authentic circular letter of the year 1557, from the Highland to the Netherland churches, it appears that from the Eyfelt to Moravia there were 50 churches, of which some consisted of from 500 to 600 brethren. And that there were about that time, at a conference at Strasburg, about 50 preachers and elders present, who discoursed about matters concerning the welfare of the churches.
These superintendents of the nonresistant christians endeavoured earnestly to propagate the truth; so that like a “grain of mustard seed” of small beginning, it grew against all bloody persecution, to the height in which it is to be seen in so many large churches in Germany, Prussia, the Principality of Cleves etc., and particularly in the United Netherlands.
But finally, alas! there arose disunion amongst them about matters of faith, which so deeply grieved the pleaceably disposed amongst them, that they not only thought about means to heal the schism, and restore union, but did also take the matter in hand, and concluded at Cologne, in the year 1591, a laudable peace between the Highland and Netherland churches. Still the schism was not fully healed. Consequently in the year 1628 and 1630, it was deemed necessary at a certain conference, by some
lovers of peace, to appoint another conference, in order to see whether they could come to an understanding, and the schism be fully healed. Consequently, in order to attain this object in
the most effectual manner, their assembled at Dort, from many of the churches in Holland, on the 21st of April, 1632, 51 ministers of the word of God, appointed for said purpose; who deemed it advisable that a scriptural confessions of faith should be drawn up, to which all parties should adhere, and on which this peace convention and the intended union should be founded and built. Which was then accordingly drawn up, publicly adopted, confirmed, signed, the so much wished for peace obtained, and the light again put on the candlestick, to the honor of non-resistant Christianity.” ***end of scan/copy***
From 1700 to 1750 massive numbers of Anabaptist’s (including most all Mennonites and some Amish) immigrated to the eastern coast of what is now the United States and moved inland and immediately banded together as pioneers and worshiped together, in their respective Amish Groups and Mennonite Groups. Many of the first leaders in America had been successful leaders in Europe before immigrating. Immediately upon arriving in the Land of The Free, the Mennonites organized themselves completely both as Christians and as Pioneers. I will give credit to these individually in a future blog.
1693 NOTE: 1. even before, the out and out persecution of the Anabaptist’s had subsided in Europe AND 2. Within only a few years after distinct and separate Mennonite congregations had been organized and leaders had been ordained, satan started to cause trouble from within. The Amish schism occurred in 1693 in Europe when a Mennonite Preacher Jacob Ammann and his supporters separated themselves from Mennonite Bishop Hans Reist and his supporters. The separation occurred because of irreconcilable differences related to key Bible verses compared to the Mennonite Confession of Faith and specifically on the subject of “shunning”! … From the original documents which have been preserved to the present date, it is clear that Jakob Ammann’s attempt to force the elders in the Emmental (canton of Bern) to accept the Meidung, i.e., the shunning or avoidance of excommunicated persons, was the chief if not full cause of the division, although several minor issues were mentioned. As per; author Milton Gascho (Mennonite Quarterly Review, October 1937) which is considered as one of the authoritative descriptions:
From 1683 to 1690 Quakers and Mennonites who had immigrated to Germantown PA together, actually worshiped together. (I find it very interesting that author David D. Hall wrote that “in 1686 a common meetinghouse was built by the Mennonites and the Quakers” )
In 1690 the Mennonites withdrew from this fellowship with the Quakers due to primarily,conflict of interest and within just years, the Mennonites built their own meetinghouse and ordained preachers and deacons and even a bishop. Within just a few years, very successful congregations and leadership emerged in the Skippack (Franconia Mennonite Conference) and Conestoga, later known as Lancaster Mennonite Conference communities…………………. and as per Mennonite Jacob Gotschalk, the Mennonites met in the house of Isaac Jacobs van Bebber. In the same year (1690) under the guidance of the Krefeild church (Hamburg-Altona Congregation), the Germantown Mennonites ordained the following Ministry; William Rittenhouse was ordained the first Minister and Jan Neus was ordained as Deacon.
On October 08, 1702 Jacob Gotschalk was ordained as minister and on the same day Hans Neus was ordained as minister. Apparently neither one of them were gifted public speakers and they would minister to the congregation by reading only. Some researchers have stated that the two groups split due to a conflict of interests and that the Mennonites wanted a minister, and the Quakers did not. I have also found information confirmed by the excellent Author John Ruth that Deacon John Neuss’s brother was the minister Hans Neuss and this Hans Neuss had a disagreement with an Arnold van Fossen who resided on the William Rittenhouse property and we know that Hans Neuss quit as minister and never associated with the church again as a result.
1708 as per Wikipedia “The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination with origins in the Schwarzenau Brethren (German: Schwarzenauer Neutäufer “Schwarzenau New Baptists”) that was organized in 1708 by Alexander Mack in Schwarzenau, Germany. The Brethren movement began as a melding of Radical Pietist and Anabaptist ideas during the Protestant Reformation. The first of its churches in the United States was established in 1723. These church bodies became commonly known as “Dunkards,” and more formally as German Baptist Brethren. The denomination holds the New Testament as its only creed. Historically the church has taken a strong stance for non-resistance or pacifism—it is one of the three historic peace churches, alongside the Mennonites and Quakers. Distinctive practices include believers baptism by trine immersion; a threefold love feast consisting of feet washing, a fellowship meal, and communion; anointing for healing; and the holy kiss. The Church of the Brethren represents the largest body descending from Mack’s Schwarzenau Brethren church. The German Baptist Brethren suffered a major division in the early 1880s, creating three wings: traditionalists such as the Old German Baptist Brethren, progressives led by The Brethren Church, and the conservatives, who adopted the name Church of the Brethren in 1908. The church had 122,810 members as of June 2010 and 1,047 congregations in the United States and Puerto Rico as of August 2010. There are six liberal arts colleges and one seminary (Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana) related to the Church of the Brethren. General offices and the Brethren Press are located in Elgin, Illinois. In 1948 the Church of the Brethren joined the World Council of Churches as a charter member and was a forming member of the National Council of Churches in 1950. ” The above whole section is from the WIKIPEDIA website at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Brethren
I, Delmer B. Martin am EXTREMELY concerned about ANBAPTISTS or Mennonites being “yoked together” with, or supporting; World Religion or a National Council Of Churches or the Catholic Church or worldly (Non-Godly) governance. If you are a Christian and “wide awake” to the NWO and understand what I am talking about, I would especially love to hear from you!
In 1719, 59 Dunkard families left Germany for America and in 1729 a larger group of Dunkards followed. The first group of Brethren, known as “Dunkers” (after their manner of baptism—threefold immersion) arrived on the ship Allen in 1719. The leader was Peter Becker, a weaver, who settled at Germantown. These Brethren organized a congregation on Christmas Day, 1723 after “newly awakened” candidates for baptism had come to Germantown. The Germantown Brethren did not build a house for worship until 1770. It is located at 6611 Germantown Ave Germantown PA and last I heard, it is still used for worship today. A somewhat strange and mysterious individual, Conrad Beissel emerged as a very controversial leader in the Dunkard Brethren group and he ended up separating from this group and forming what became the Ephrata Cloister and yes there were quite a few Mennonites who became involved at the Cloister and in fact several are buried in their old cemetery, even an old Mennonite Minister John Bear 1723-1778 and his wife. . The Ephrata Cloister members have often been referred to as “Seventh Day Dunkers”.——- The Tunkers I have researched in Canada and the USA, really believed in the “Great Commission” as their ACTS reveal AND the/a Love Feast and for many years the Dunkards/Tunkers were a plain folk like the Mennonites and they often worshipped together. The Tunkers were in Canada by 1788. The Dunkards aka German Baptist Brethren in USA and The Tunkers in Canada and the United States had considerable associations with the Mennonite Pioneers In Canada and the USA and these praiseworthy relationships should be greatly researched and published in my opinion as Gods Love and the fruits of The Spirit were often shared passionately as Christian Brothers and Sisters should. I feel that it is a shame what we have lost! This is precisely why I bring the Tunkers/Dunkards into the discussion. I personally have been researching and documenting a missing and unidentified and almost completely unmentioned joint Mennonite-Tunker Congregation which began in Blair, Waterloo County Ontario in the year 1800. It all started many many years ago with a single old map drawn by an old Mennonite Minister Joseph Oberholtzer Bauman 1766-1849 who was a Mennonite Minister who had been ordained in Berks Co. PA and had immigrated to Canada in May 1816 and settled on a farm in Blair and who drew a map showing 2 meetinghouses in his area, one of them identifying the location of the missing Mennonite-Tunker meetinghouse.
From 1700-1775 Mennonites associated and attended meetings on occasion, with the German Reformed Group and the Moravian Group and sometimes even the Lutherans. (Especially the ones that could converse in German and Swiss version German and Dutch version German.
1725 Great Mennonite Conferences were held with preachers and bishops consisting of both the Franconia Mennonite Group and the Conestoga Mennonite Group/later know as Lancaster Mennonite Group up from 1725 to at least 1735. The most important thing that emerged is that 16 Mennonite leaders of the 1725 ministry Conference (including Bishops) of both Franconia and Lancaster groups signed documentation officially accepting The Dortrecht Mennonite Confession Of Faith which had been signed by 51 of the leaders and teachers of the time at the Great Mennonite Conference on April 21, 1632 and also affirmed on February 4, 1660 by 6 Ministers and 8 elders representing the Alsacre Mennonites as well as many other Mennonite Conferences in Germany etc. I started some 25 years ago trying to collect all the books and articles ever written by and about both these conferences and their ministry and congregations. I have done the same for Mennonites in Ontario. About 10 years ago I started collecting books on all the related conferences. What a pilgrimage! Often just the smallest bit of information is absolutely amazing in especially the 1800-1900 books because in our past the norm would be: Name______born_______died_______ and that’s it! There is so much more that needs to be said. Ah yes I was one who would leave Canada and regularly travel to PA etc.and go from meetinghouse to meetinghouse and use my new camera to photograph what I thought was important…for posterity’s sake and then low and behold the internet became mainstream…and I admit I feel a tad bit foolish now. On the other hand some of the dearest Mennonites and Amish I have ever met were from Weaverland etc and are still in my memory.
1775 The next schism we should research and think about ocurred in the 1775 era when Mennonite ordained preacher Martin Boehm 1725-1812 experienced what he called “more light” into the Scriptures. He was excommunicated by the Mennonites some time later (1777) and he eventually united with Philip William Otterbein, a German Reformed minister whom he had met in 1765. Together they started the United Brethren in Christ Church. Their first formal conference was held in 1789. Methodists (also known as United Brethren) formed a class at Martin Boehm’s home about 1775, and his wife was one of the first to join. In 1791, a chapel was built on land which had belonged to the Boehm’s which is still standing today. In 1802 Martin Boehm joined the Mennonite Evangelical Church at BOEHM’S CHAPEL, although this did not interfere with his relationship to the United Brethren. The fellowship between English-speaking Methodists and German-speaking United Brethren was very cordial and they frequently shared in one another’s services. *** source of info, http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~boehm/data/biographies/1725_Beam_Martin_bio.html
above pic of Preacher Martin Boehm found online at gameo.org an excellent Anabaptist info website
I find it very interesting and extremely thought provoking that the conference did NOT dis-fellowship Preacher Boehm much earlier”
1778 Funkites The next schism we should research and think about, is the so called Funkite Schism/Separation which occurred in 1778 when Mennonite Bishop Christian Funk 1731-1811 of Franconia Twp. PA and about 51 of his followers were separated from the Franconia Mennonite Conference for their stand against the conference regarding the Revolutionary “War Tax” as per website noted below “When the Revolutionary war was in progress, the State of Pennsylvania levied a special war tax upon its citizens of three pounds and ten shillings apiece, to help carry on the war. Many of the Mennonites joined the Quakers in their position, that they could no more give of their means to carry on war than they could give themselves. Christian Funk protested against this attitude, declaring that the war tax should be paid. Funk was excommunicated in 1778, and organized a small body known as “Funkites,” which continued to exist until about 1850. ***info in the above paragraph from https://archive.org/stream/cu31924006701985/cu31924006701985_djvu.txt
There are all sorts of articles written about the Funk family…Just imagine what might have happened if these Funks had resided in a different neighborhood…
Most Mennonite historians are not aware, that here in Ontario Canada the Mennonite Conference and some of the congregations were deeply affected by the the Funkite Group in PA because another one of the Funkite preachers from Franconia Twp. PA (Jacob Detweiler 1778-1858) immigrated to Canada in 1822 and was a key figure in founding the Detweiler Mennonite Congregation as well. During this era the Hallman Mennonite congregation also became organized and they erected a meetinghouse very close to Detweilers…there was some competition for members which did not turn out so good for the Hallman congregation. There is lots of information available about Detweilers Congregation and very little about Hallmans. Jacob Detweiler’s influence (perhaps due to his experience as a past Funkite) was so strong that for quite a few years his congregation in Ontario was NOT in fellowship with the Ontario Conference and was NOT listed in the churches Calendar of Preaching Appointments accordingly. My direct ancestor Bishop Henry Shantz 1804-1877 was the first Bishop for the District that included Detweiler Mennonite and another one of my ancestors Bishop Shantz was also married to another one of my ancestors Lydia Z. Martin 1810-1899 of the Canadian Pioneer Martin family. Bishop Shantz was often under pressure to be more progressive. I think we should intensify our efforts and publish much more info about Hallman’s Mennonite congregation where the only remains left for many many years has been a bunch of broken headstones on a small vacant square of land. (what a shame)
1812 The next schism/separation we should think about, is what occurred in 1812 when the Reformed Mennonite Division occurred, originating out of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference. Founder of the Reformed Mennonites was Francis Herr 1748-1810 who was married to Fanny Bear the daughter of Mennonite Minister Martin Bear c1715-1784. Francis Herr was also the son of Mennonite Minister John Herr 1720-1797. I have found that much detail has been written and published about this group so at this time I will not add much, except to state that the Reformed Mennonites were very active in Ontario Canada since Bishop John Herr of PA visited Canada in 1833 and received a group of 70 persons into the Reformed Mennonite Group. This Group was very focused on the purity of their congregations and were very strict on staying separate from the world and all other religions, even from other Mennonites, both progressives and conservatives. What the true cause of this schism, really doctrine? or was it personality clashes between very influential people? Sometimes the Holy Spirit moves mountains using weak individuals and sometimes using very strong individuals.
1845 Next schism/separation we should meditate on, is the Stauffer/Pike Schism/Separation that occurred in PA in 1845. The original Stauffer Mennonites were formed due to a schism/division from the Lancaster Mennonite Conference in 1845 due to a disagreement over the discipline of couples who accused and who freely admitted abuse of their step-children and the use of “the ban” on them. Bishop Jacob W. Stauffer 1811-1855 and Minister Jacob Weaver 1796-1860 of the Groffdale Mennonite Congregation of The Lancaster Mennonite Conference did not agree with the decisions of the Bishops Council of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference on the proper discipline of offending members of Groffdale Mennonite congregation so eventually Stauffer and Weaver and their supporters separated from the Lancaster Mennonite Conference and formed a separate congregation and later group called Stauffer Mennonites. I believe due to the diversity and all the movements of this group there are members? and ex-members of this group online that could really contribute on much more volumes of accurate and balanced information on this group. ..
I believe it is the Global Anabaptist Enyclopedia Online at http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Old_Order_Mennonites,_Pennsylvania that gives the following paragraph of info: In 1987 this group was located in Lancaster and Snyder Counties, Pennsylvania; St. Mary’s County, Maryland; and Dallas County, Missouri, USA). In 1987 a settlement began in Kentucky. This group had about 500 members. If the name Stauffer Mennonite is used in the broad sense of the word, it can refer to at least nine different groups, each of which had in a measure descended from the original 1845 Jacob Stauffer group. The groups usually were named after their founding bishops. These groups were the Jacob Stauffer, Phares Stauffer, Joseph Brubaker, Noah Hoover, Titus Hoover, Aaron Martin, Allen Martin, Martin Weaver, and Jonas Weaver groups.
1847 The next schism/separation we should really meditate on is the John H. Oberholtzer 1809-1895 led schism which culminated in many, many Mennonites and congregations being separated from each other and the founding of the Eastern District Conference (General Conference Mennonite Church) This very large schism/separation is well documented and explained well online at http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Oberholtzer,_John_H._(1809-1895)
It is clear that Oberholtzer’s newly proposed Mennonite WRITTEN Constitution was at the very core of the split. There are a lot of well written, detailed books available from the General Conference Mennonite perspective whereas there are less from the original Franconia Mennonite Conference of Pennsylvania perspective. Details on this schism are so readily available to the public on this division that I do not feel I would add much other than to state that we can all learn much if we meditate using accurate and detailed information and hindsight. One of my favorite sayings is “we can obtain wisdom 2 different ways, we can learn it from others (for free) or we can find out the hard way, by experiencing great pain as we learn the hard way” This schism and the noted 1888-89 schism and the noted 1893 schism are perfect examples of massive and mind-boggling events in our Church History that we MUST learn from.
above photo of preacher John H. Oberholtzer as found online at http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Oberholtzer,_John_H._(1809-1895)
More notes on Oberholtzer led schism;
1847 on October 28 1847 John H. Oberholtzer 1809-1895 of Eastern Pennsylvania, led a very large schismatic faction which included 16 other ministers and deacons (eight ministers and 8 deacons) which had withdrew from the Franconia Mennonite Conference in 1847 and the new group became the “General Conference of the Mennonite Church of North America”. Otherwise also known as the “New School Mennonites” and the Oberholtzer Group.
NEW MENNONITE GROUP
Bishop John Hunsicker 1773-1847
Bishop Isreal Beidler excommunicated by the new Conference in 1851
Bishop Abraham Hunsicker 1793-1872 excommunicated by the New Conference in 1851
Bishop Christian Clemmer
Minister John H. Oberholtzer 1809-1895 ordained 1842 at the Swamp Congregation
Minister William Landis
Minister Joseph Shantz
Minister William Shelley
?Minister Daniel Geisinger
?Minister Samuel Moyer
Minister Moses Godshall
Minister Henry Johnston
Deacon John Detweiler
Deacon William Godshall
Deacon Henry B. Shelley
Deacon Daniel Geisinger
Deacon Samuel Moyer
Deacon Peter Young
Deacon John Latshaw
Deacon Samuel Kaufman
Deacon John Bauman
Deacon Jacob Benner
Deacon Nathan Pennypacker
Deacon David Taylor
Deacon Abraham Grator excommunicated in 1851
This ministry group detailed above took about 1/3 of the whole Franconia Mennonite Conference group with them, in the schism. This included the majority of the membership of 6 congregations and the remaining adhering members of the Franconia Mennonite Conference either agreed to share in the existing meetinghouses or they had to build new meetinghouses.
Samuel F. Pannabecker states in his book that the following old congregations united with the Oberholtzer group and the meetinghouses were taken over by the Oberholtzer group… Upper Milford, Schwenkesville, Skippack, East Swamp, West Swamp, and Flatland and there were 7 meetinghouses where the Oberholtzer group received partial use of the old meetinghouses and they were Saucon, Springfield, Providence, Worcester, Hereford, Boyertown and Rockhill. At Deep Run a small group of the Oberholtzer group was refused the use of the meetinghouse and they soon erected a building of their own. Samuel states about ¼ of the Franconia Mennonite Conference group united with Oberholtzer.
1848 A Schism occurred at Bowmansville Mennonite a congregation under oversight of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference, over a lawsuit challenging the compulsory school law. This was a smaller schism, however things got quite nasty and extremely un-Christlike on both sides. The dissidents established a new congregation “The Pine Grove Mennonite Congregation” and they later joined the Franconia Mennonite Conference. I have several ancestors who came from the Bowmansville Mennonite Congregation to Canada in the early 1800’s and they were very active Mennonites and Ministers.
1849 The next schism/separation we should really think about, is what occurred c1848 and 1849 involving mostly Vineland aka Moyers Mennonite Congregation and Mountain aka Campden Mennonite Congregation and Jordan Mennonite Congregation and Rainham Mennonite Congregation and South Cayuga Mennonite Congregation all located near Vineland (near Niagara Falls) and South Cayuga area of Ontario Canada.
Key figures were Mennonite Minister Daniel Hoch 1806-1878 PRIMARILY and Mennonite Bishop Jacob Gross 1780-1865 to a much lesser degree. Mennonite Minister Daniel Hoch aka High was a very intelligent, passionate, blunt, and controversial preacher and individual. This was not a straight forward type schism where there were simply 2 differing points of view where members lined up either for one side or the other and then after not being able to reconcile they split up and moved on… This schism clearly involved only 1 very key individual; Minister Daniel Hoch, who “traveled A LOT!” and was not afraid to speak his mind. Some would say it was a serious flaw and some would say that it was a gift. In this schism pertaining to what was occurring in these aforementioned few congregation in Ontario, there were little pockets of very strong opposition and little pockets of very strong defense for Daniel Hoch in his ministry. This schism grew and suddenly involved disputation directly with the Mennonite Conference of Ontario, Canada at the highest level.
I have ample, detailed, documented evidence which proves that Daniel Hoch our Canadian Preacher had a major influence on Bishop John H. Oberholtzer of USA and the New General Mennonite Conference AND VISA VERSA. Most intriguing is that the actual trouble in the select Ontario congregations, surrounded “Sunday School” issues and NOT written constitutions for Mennonites at all.
In addition, another strange thing is a very large number of members were involved in the Oberholtzer Schism in USA and yet in Canada, Minister Hoch’s supporters and detractors did not involve most congregations and only small and sporadic pockets of members here and there. One possible explanation is, that the Mennonite congregations in Canada were less independent than those in PA and more dependent on each other and their leadership… simply due to less members and congregations being involved and the pioneer atmosphere and circumstances in a colony that had NOT been established for more than 49 years as compared to the Pennsylvania Mennonites which was established for 150 years or so.
In addition, The Hoch Controversy involved a very complex web of family ties and relationships between Daniel Hoch and the Moyers/Meyers who were a well established Mennonite family with many leaders and connections in Canada and the United States. Both the Moyer/Meyer and High Families in the USA had many generations and years of leadership in various Mennonite congregations. The more I have worked on this “jigsaw puzzle” it just keeps on growing! The only sidenote is that I have also been able to establish that the miller Samuel B. Bowman 1802-1883 of Blair Waterloo County was very involved and very influential in the Hoch/ New Mennonite Controversy and a very vocal correspondent with Bishop Benjamin Eby of the Mennonite Conference of Ontario.
In 1855 an organization was organized called “Conference Council of the United Mennonite Community of Canada West and Ohio” in the formation of which Daniel Hoch took a leading part. The end result in Canada was the creation of what became known as the “New Mennonite Group” and the Evangelical Association of Canada as well as the Brethren in Christ Group as well as the Pentecostal church. The John H. Oberholtzer 1809-1895 led group of PA and also the William Gehman 1827-1918 led group from Pennsylvania (and even William Gehman directly) had a lot of influence on the above mentioned movements in Canada and it is well know that Canadian Mennonite Daniel Hoch 1806-1878 was made a bishop by Bishop Oberholtzer of the USA and Daniel Hoch regularly attended and participated as a leader in Oberholtzers Conferences in Pennsylvania. Previously ordained Ministry from the Ontario Mennonite Conference that joined this New Mennonite Group were as follows; Minister Daniel Hoch 1806-1878 of the Jordan Mennonite Congregation and Minister Samuel Schlichter 1821-1873 of the Blenheim Mennonite Congregation and Minister Ulrich Geiger 1797-1864 of The Geiger Mennonite Congregation and Deacon Jacob Burkholder 1797-1872 a deacon from the Wideman Mennonite Congregation and also perhaps the Schmitt Mennonite Congregation in Vaughan Twp. ON and Minister David Habecker 1791-1889 of The Sanborn Falls NY Mennonite congregation who used to often minister to the Niagara area in Canada and Minister Christian Troyer 1798-1883 from the Schmitt Mennonite Congregation in Vaughan Twp. ON and Abraham Ramer 1814-1891 who is said by B.I.C. Historian Huffman to have been ordained in the Old Mennonite Church in Markham area. Bishop John Lapp 1797-1878 of the Clarence Centre Mennonite congregation for some time worked with Daniel Hoch and the New Mennonites but after 1860 he was back with the original Mennonite Conference as Bishop and Minister Jacob Krehbeil 1835-1917 of Clarence Centre NY State Mennonite Congregation across from the Niagara Canada border and Deacon Jacob Albright 1789-1879 of the Vineland Mennonite Congregation and Deacon Jacob Huber 1817-1890 of the Blenheim Mennonite Congregation…In 1849 when the Hoch controversy exploded Bishop Jacob Gross 1780-1865 of Vineland Mennonite Congregation and Minister Joseph Nash 1830-1898 of the South Cayuga Mennonite congregation left the Ontario Mennonite Conference and joined the United Brethren aka the Evangelical Mennonites whom some called Methodists.
Above pic is of Preacher Daniel Hoch found online on gameo.org website (an excellent Mennonite Info Site!)
The effects and affects of The Hoch+Oberholtzer Group+Gehman Group were very unique in my opinion,because there were problems and mini-disputes involving small pockets of people and small pockets of leaders from all over the place in Canada and the USA and things went on and on and on – there were mini-schism after mini-schisms over and over and on and on (long after the initial leader’s deaths) and evidentally to this very day ,nothing has been resolved, things continue to evolve and deviate in a very chaotic and un-orderly manner !!! WHAT IS THE TRUTH? Where did it come from??
The schism led by Minister Daniel Hoch (aka High) in the Ontario Mennonites was in the works parallel with the Oberholtzer Schism in PA but unlike so many other schisms it is evident in BOTH of these schisms, that”keeping house” and or “keeping order” and or “making order” or a separation to ensure Holy Communion was NOT very visible on the agenda. The truth is that the “divide and conquer theory ” in full anticipation of “offering to make order out of chaos” is one of satan’s most powerful weapons of war! against us and GOD! False Peace is NO Peace! and I personally feel that it is just as bad or worst than outward war…
Maybe before I reported all of the above I should have started by confessing that I was once asked by a very dear friend to give advice on based on hindsight and the peace achieved… how we/I got thru a very serious long running family dispute in multiple churches related dispute/ 3 different Mennonite church committees also involved…I knew my friends situation well and my honest response to him was “sometimes you HAVE to fight just a little bit longer, before real true peace can be achieved” IRONICALLY in this same situation I was once in the middle of, with my only true ally being my dearly departed father…I will never forget the day after almost 5 years of what even the 3 different Mennonite Church Committees finally admitted to us members that the differences were deemed by them to be “irreconcilable” In desperation I met with Dad while my Mom went to communion and asked my wise earthly best friend (My Father) I said Dear Father you know what the committees have announced and you know we have ALL been praying for years and pleading God to help us…what do I have to make peace with my enemy??? I was hoping against hope that my father would provide me with a simple, orderly, highly intelligent and exceedingly wise surprise solution…my fathers blunt answer shocked me; he said “give them EVERYTHING they want, and just a little bit more!” a few weeks later after the most intense pressure of my whole life and even dare i admit “trying” to struggle with God in prayer, I did exactly what my father told me to do!!! and was absolutely shocked (not devastated) when my enemies admitted they were not satisfied…
OK so now imagine this; 1. all three church committees had walked away from the table and 2. My own church committee (3 very senior people in the conference) had met with me privately after the final 3 church committees joint meeting and told me 2 things (a) they could NOT with a clear conscience recommend that I give my enemy what was demanded and (b) they urged me not to go to court 3. I had offered up everything that my enemy had demanded of me and yes just a little bit more into my enemy’s hands and my enemy simply responded with “NO!” What do you think? happened next?
I started right back at the beginning and I alone went and directly confronted my enemies and told them that 1. I am not changing the final position I had reached and 2. I would not give up till they accepted the very exact thing they had demanded of me along with a bit more which I had offered up. It took several more months and ALL I DID WAS STICK WITH THE TRUTH and in the end… the exact terms described above were exchanged and the arguments ceased and the doors closed!
The small portion of my personal life story I describe above happened between 1995 and 2000 and had nothing directly to do with doctrine or church business but it hopefully will explain why I have such passionate feelings about Mennonite Church Schisms…
1855 I have been informed that another schism/separation occurred in 1855 when The Old Order River Brethren originated from the Brethren In Christ Churches. I am NOT an expert on the history of these people and I would like to know so much more about their history. I would love to have more information on the Old Order River Brethren since over the last 10 years or so I have a very small file on this group whereas I have a large file on the B.I.C. I am especially interested in any and all info pertaining to any Old Order River Brethren in Ontario. Please?
1858 The next schism/separation we should consider, is what occurred in 1858 when John Holdeman 1832-1900 was the key leader in another schism in 1858 in Wayne County, Ohio, and organized the Church of God. Another source The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, also called Holdeman Mennonite, is a Christian Church of Anabaptist heritage. Its formation started in 1859 under its first leader John Holdeman (1832-1900), who was a baptized Mennonite. This group is very similar to Conservative Mennonites but has stayed away from other Conservative Mennonites because of its “true church” doctrine and its practice of expelling. In 2010 the church had 22,779 baptized members. I know for a fact that there people on the internet nowadays who could add volumes to these few lines of information and I welcome it. Most info from
http://churchofgodinchristmennonite.net/en/who_we_are official website and Gameo.org online
I have been “on the inside” in 2 very distinct groups (one which was completely non-Mennonite) that believed “they were GODS CHURCH” and one of these groups even will admit publicly that that they are exclusively Gods Church, and ALL others are excluded. So WHO is telling the TRUTH??? In addition I also became a member of one of the more modern Mennonite group and my congregation evolved from a solid Biblical basis to a very wishy-washy and by Biblical standards, lukewarm. I examined by own imperfectness first and then the congregation and I decided that could not agree to the changes taking place from either a macro or a micro analysis and so stopped attending without any fuss whatsoever. This happened in 2000 and to this day I feel I did the right thing, while having to admit I still feel pain for this congregation AND I because of the TRUTH! So for all of you that believe you are in Gods Church and or the Church Of Jesus and believe that their just might be at least one or two people that you have never even met that are “a genuine member in THE True Christian Church”, I feel love for you! I do NOT think we have to (or should) give up our “goodly heritage”…However I am completely convinced every seeker and every believer including all us Mennonites and Amish need to focus on our personal relationship with GOD (Love of God) thru Jesus FIRST and foremost!
1858 The next schism/separation we should meditate on, is what occurred in 1858 in the General Conference Mennonites which had originally separated from the Franconia Mennonite Conference in PA in 1847. This NEW 1858 Organization became know as the Evangelical Mennonite Society (known as the Gehman Group and the Evangelical Mennonites) The founders were William Gehman, William Shelly, David Henning, Henry Diehl, David Gehman, Joseph Schneider and Jacob Gottschall . These Pennsylvania-based Evangelical Mennonites merged with the Indiana and Ontario-based United Mennonites in 1879 to form the Evangelical United Mennonites which four years later helped to form the Mennonite Brethren in Christ as per Global Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. The main leader in the 1858 Schism/separation was William Gehman 1827-1918 years ago was a close associate of John H. Oberholtzer. By 1858 William Gehman and 23 members were at odds with the General Conference and the issue at the center of the schism/separation was “PRAYER MEETINGS” Mennonite Minister William N. Shelly was a key supporter of William Gehman and Minister Musselman was also a very important leader afterwards.
Above is photo of William Gehman from gameo.org website
What most Mennonite Historians have NOT detailed is the important influence William Gehman had on Ontario Canada Mennonites in the Hespeler and Blair area and North Dumphries Township congregations. The Detweilers and Gehmans and Bowmans and Hageys and Bechtels families in the Blair and North Dumphries area were deeply affected by the Hoch Controversy and the Evangelical Movement. Many might be surprised to know that Preacher William Gehman preached at services and Conferences in Canada.
The effects and affects of The Hoch+Oberholtzer Group+Gehman Group were/are very unique in my opinion,because there were problems and mini-disputes involving small pockets of people and small pockets of leaders from all over the place in Canada and the USA and things went on and on and on – there were mini-schism after mini-schisms over and over and on and on (long after the initial leader’s deaths) and evidently to this very day ,the issues have not been resolved, things continue to evolve and deviate in a very chaotic and un-orderly manner !!! WHAT IS THE TRUTH? Where did it come from?
1859 The Johnson Mennonite group split… Originally the Skippack congregation
of the Franconia Mennonite Conference had been split by the Oberholtzer division of 1847 with the Oberholtzer group keeping the meetinghouse. This group then had a second schism when leaders, Abraham Hunsicker, Abraham Grater, and Henry Hunsicker were excommunicated. There was yet a third schism at the congregation who worshiped at this gracious old Skippack meetinghouse. Henry G. Johnson, now bishop at Skippack, strongly favored the practice of foot washing. The new conference considered the practice acceptable, but decreed that it should be kept optional. Johnson was dissatisfied with this decision, and stopped attending conference. In 1859 he was censored for this action, and in 1861 he was expelled. Most of the Skippack congregation supported Johnson and seceded from the conference with him. They retained the Skippack Mennonite meetinghouse and became known as Johnson Mennonites. Credit for this summary of info on the Johnson Mennonite Group and their meetinghouse goes to Author Beulah S. Hostetler who wrote the good book entitled American Mennonites and Protestant Movements: A Community Paradigm.
ORDINANCES (ACTS) Experienced by Mennonites of my family as members of the Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference (old order Mennonites who in 1939 allowed automobiles and telephones.) Both my paternal and maternal grandparents were charter members of this conference.
Above is the only color photo of my dear parents and myself when I was a child. (taken by my aunt in town)
I was completely shocked when I found out during my previous research, when I heard that the Franconia Mennonite Conference did NOT observe feet washing in the 18th century up until the early 19th century.
Here in Waterloo County, Mennonites from 1800 to this very date, in my parents church and other old order groups in Canada still practice; feet-washing, right after members participate in Holy Communion (partaking in a broken off chunk of bread and wine out of a common cup), the Holy kiss, private members only Inquiry and Council Meeting and also a public service prior to holding Holy Communion, public congregational statements of repentance at regular church services by repentant members who have committed a blatant/major sin against God and the congregation after becoming baptized, public announcements of the setting back of un-repentant members, a series of instruction services on Sunday afternoons for the whole congregation and especially the candidates for Adult Baptism , Adult Baptism Services with water and Marriage ceremonies after the anticipated marriage is announced at 3 separate Sundays and Private Nominations given to the elders in Conference for Ministry and nomination services and Ministry candidate interviews and Inquiry of candidates after member input and Ordination Services including “by lot” if more than one candidate is nominated and meets Biblical requirements, Bishop ordination is done using the same method with the potential nominees out of the current Ministry roster. Ministry including deacons ordained to serve for life with no salaries. Funeral Services and a special Thanksgiving Service in the fall after harvest and two separate services commemorating both the death of Jesus and also to commemorate Jesus’s Ascension back to Heaven and a physical prayer covering for female members and males acceptance of their full submission to Jesus Christ’s HEADSHIP. (Personally I believe we can reconcile what Gods purpose is for women, if we understand and accept the man’s responsibility first.) And yes, for those that are curious, both my mother and my grandmother wore their full coverings all day long and took it off after prayers at nighttime once they went to bed. Both of them were buried with their covering on and the black strings tightly tied. (I offer up the following based on my personal observations and personal knowledge of my own family members however I am not vouching for anyone else) It is the amazing personal faith of my both my Grandmas who lived with us as widows especially because they both wore their coverings daily all day till their deaths. My dad’s mom lived with us pretty well, her whole life and she died in 1986 after being a widow for 34 years and my mom’s mom lived with us on the farm after she was widowed in 1954 and she died in 1964. Neither one of these ladies nor my mom ever cut their hair and during the week it was kept clean under the fine white netting covering and usually on Saturdays (or as needed hygienically) when nobody outside of the immediate family was around, they would “let down” their ankle length hair and wash it and dry it naturally (it would take them hours) My father would go to great lengths to ensure that he and us boys would do the dirty smelly work around the farm because of his reverence and love for his wife. Please do not get me wrong, I personally believe being obedient to Gods HEADSHIP Principles for our hearts and minds outlined in the Bible are ultimately more important than adult baptized females simply wearing a white covering on their heads for any and all reasons not found in the Bible. Anointing of oil is very rarely practiced and its done in private by special request and exceptional circumstances at a members request and is performed by the elders. My dear mother had an “anointing of oil performed by the elders” a few weeks before her death of untreated cancer and she told me the night before she died that the anointing gave her the True Peace about her upcoming death she had asked God for, in her prayers…My dear mother died after my father and her last words to me just before she died was “Delmer, everything WILL be allright!”) my parents were Christians First and good Mennonites obviously, as a result. In 1995 I took over the home farm (where I was raised) and most of my life I either lived with my parents or they lived in the doddy house on the farm, so I believe only God our Father, remembers them better than I. This was a awesome Christian couple who never once argued… not even once! My Father loved my dear mother very much like Jesus loves HIS Church. He certainly loved her more than he loved himself. It is no wonder, I struggle to this date with my many errors and weakness. This whole section of my blog is based on my own memory.
1865 The next schism/separation we Mennonites absolutely must research and study and meditate on, is what occurred in 1850-1865 era when The Amish church divided into 1. The Amish Mennonite and 2. The Old Order Amish. I am committed to learning so much more about these dear brethren and sisters of ours, both the old order and the progressives, because their problems are OUR problems just like the Bible states. I have a lot of background information on these dear people and some of the best personal spiritual conversations I have every enjoyed in Pennsylvania have been with old Amish folks as I met them traveling up/down the back-roads of PA doing Mennonite research. What is absolutely amazing to me is how many times when I stopped to speak with elderly Amish (including Ladies) their countenance changed and they got tears in their eyes when they told me they “recognized my dialect” as being “more old and original and undiluted than the dialect that their children and grandchildren speak” nowadays in PA. I found these interactions to be a really Spiritual Experience and I am completely intrigued by our human AND Spiritual connections. (we here In Ontario call it Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania Dutch)
1872 The next schism/separation we should meditate on, is what occurred in 1872 Wisler Division in Ohio and Indiana aka Wisler-Ramer Group became more formally known as the Ohio-Indiana Mennonite Conference. This division also occurred in Canada in 1888 and in Pennsylvania in 1893 and in Virginia in 1901, however here most people call it the “old order”division. As the http://www.gameo.org states ; The Old Order Mennonites in Indiana were the first of all Old Order groups among Mennonites. They emerged in 1872, when there was a wave of modernization, led by Daniel Brenneman and John F. Funk. Jacob Wisler (1808-1889), bishop in Indiana since 1851, was a staunch conservative who clashed with the modernizers, who tried to silence him. In 1867 they were successful and Jacob Wisler’s ministry was suspended. In 1872 Jacob Wisler and preachers Christian Bare and John Weaver were expelled from the Indiana Mennonite conference. About 100 members sided with them and formed the Old Order Mennonites of Indiana, who became known under the name of Wisler Mennonites or just Wislers. Later they were joined by Mennonites from Ohio.
From the website gameo.org…Mennonites from Canada settled in Elkhart County, Indiana, beginning in 1839. In 1849 the first Mennonite log meeting house was built near the village of South West, and it was named Yellow Creek after a stream nearby. (my note; What most Mennonite Historians have not written about is that ……from Canada….) Bishop Martin Hoover, who moved to Indiana at age 85, died in 1850 and was replaced by Jacob Wisler, ordained bishop in 1851. In 1861, the congregation required a larger building and built a new structure across the road. Daniel Brenneman, known for his more evangelical theology, and John F. Funk, founder of the Herald of Truth, moved to the Elkhart area in 1864 and 1867 respectively. These two ordained men were known as able preachers and often preached in English, rather than the German language. Because of his skill in English, Brenneman was in great demand in frontier Indiana for funeral services. Difficulties between the progressive and the conservative preachers, including Jacob Wisler (1808-1889), Daniel Brenneman, John Funk, as well as Joseph Rohrer and Joseph Holdeman, resulted in the expulsion of the conservative preachers, first Rohrer and Holdeman, and then Wisler in 1872. Jacob Wisler was then instrumental in the forming of the Ohio-Indiana Mennonite Conference, also called Wisler Mennonites. About 100 church members sided with Jacob Wisler.  In 1874 Daniel Brenneman was also expelled.John F. Funk was ordained bishop in 1892, serving for a decade until 1902 when church politics forced him to retire from active preaching. After this division, the Wisler and Funk branches shared the Yellow Creek building, holding services there on alternating Sundays until 1912.
What most Mennonite historians do not seem to write about is the fact that numerous Mennonites who had only been in Canada for 1 generation and had been ordained in ONTARIO Canada decided to move back to the USA and continue in their ordained office there. They were all among the first pioneers of Elkhart Indiana USA. These include;
1. Minister Martin Hoover 1760-1849 who had been ordained minister in the Markham Mennonite congregation in Ontario Canada. Martin had been born in Europe and immigrated to Philiadelphia in 1764 and had immigrated from PA to Markham Ontario in about 1804. Martin Hoover was ordained as Bishop in the USA. and is also buried at the Yellow Creek Mennonite meetinghouse.
2. Minister Benjamin Hershey 1826-1905 of Welland County Ontario Canada Mennonite Conference who was ordained as minister in 1844 in Ontario and who moved to Indiana in 1850 and later became a bishop in Sterling Illinois USA.
3. Minister Daniel Brundage 1812-1895 who was ordained as minister at Schmitt Mennonite Congregation in Ontario in 1845, who moved to Indiana in 1858
4. Deacon Benjamin Huber c1778-1866 who was ordained deacon for Rainham-Stony Creek Mennonite Congregation approximately in 1815 and Deacon Huber immigrated from Ontario to Indiana USA and is also buried at the Yellow Creek Mennonite meetinghouse.
5. Deacon David Good 1805-1864 was ordained as deacon for Martin’s Mennonite Congregation in Waterloo Ontario before 1842. Deacon Good immigrated to Indiana USA and is also buried at the Yellow Creek Mennonite meetinghouse. (his old farm in Ontario was real close to my farm now)
In summation it is critical to understand that the less written about 1872 Wisler Schism/Division in Elkhart Indiana laid the groundwork and was the precursor to the very large 1893 “old order” schism/division in Pennsylvania in the Lancaster Mennonite Conference led by Bishop Jonas H. Martin and the very large 1888/1889 “old order” schism/division which occurred in Ontario Mennonite Conference in Canada and was led by Bishop Abraham W. Martin.
1875 UNION One of the first really interesting unions occurred in 1875, and through this the so called “New Mennonites” and a small group who were also called Reformed Mennonites were brought together. (please note that these Reformed Mennonite were NOT the same group that was founded in 1812.)The next union was between these “United Mennonites”, as they now later called themselves, and the “Evangelical Mennonites of Pennsylvania”, the name assumed being “Evangelical United Mennonites”. These again united with the “Brethren in Christ” and the present name, “Mennonite Brethren in Christ”, taken. The Brethren in Christ was the first branch formed. It split off from the River Brethren in 1838. (I am NOT an expert in these groups and I would dearly like to have so much more knowledge and documentation about these dear people) Another version from unknown source …The River Brethren were found entirely in the United States, and united to form the Mennonite Brethren in Christ in 1883. The Evangelical Mennonites were the second body to appear. They came entirely from Pennsylvania, and broke away from the Oberholtzer (later, General Conference) Mennonites in 1857, uniting to form the Evangelical United Mennonites in 1879. The remaining two bodies were the New Mennonites and Reformed Mennonites. I do not know all the dates for the separation of the New Mennonites, as they left the old church at various times in different places. Probably all the different congregations had separated before 1865. The Reformed Mennonites separated in 1874, and the union of the two occurred in the following year. The last two originated in Canada, though the Reformed Mennonites afterward spread to Indiana, and was the largest body. (I am NOT an expert in all these groups and I would dearly like to have so much more knowledge and documentation about these dear people)
1881 In 1881 the Old Order German Baptist Church developed from the Church Of The Brethren
1883 UNION (DETAILS ) December 27, 1873 Origin of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ About the year 1882 the Brethren in Christ and the Evangelical United Mennonite formed an acquaintance with each other, and soon desired to form a union between the two bodies, which was effected through a special conference held Dec 27, 1883.
1878 to 1874 Schism In Juniata County PA (from the gameo.org website) A division occurred among the Lancaster Conference Mennonites in Juniata county from 1878 to 1884. Some dissatisfaction developed among the members with the leadership of Jacob Graybill, bishop of the Upper District. Samuel Winey 1822-1882 was ordained in 1873 to assist Bishop Jacob S. Graybill 1817-1892 and took leadership of the Lower District. In 1882 Bishop Winey ordained Thomas Graybill 1824-1900 and William Bergey 1846-1920 to the ministry. Both were chosen through lot, the method the Mennonites used in selecting or finding God’s will in choosing new ministers. Winey died shortly thereafter. Bishop Graybill, Samuel Oberholtzer, and Abraham Brubaker are on record for questioning the late Samuel Winey’s authority to ordain ministers. The Lancaster Conference supported Graybill and rejected Winey’s ordinations. This angered some of those in disagreement and could no longer tolerate Graybill’s leadership. To alleviate tension and strife, they withdrew from the Lancaster Conference. In 1884 the dissenters formed their own congregation and in 1928 joined the General Conference Mennonite Church.
***considering the above, combined with the evidence in my congregational file this schism was caused by personal disputes and not really doctrinal or definitive Ordinance issues. ***
1888-1889 The next schism/separation we should consider is what occurred in 1888 and 1889 when the old order division occurred in Ontario Canada right in the heart of my community in which the key person was my ancestor Bishop Abraham W. Martin 1834-1902 who led the “old order” group out of the main Mennonite Conference of Ontario along with 2 other Bishops and 9 ministers and 8 deacons. There were 2 Bishops and 15 ministers and 10 deacons who stood with the oldest established Mennonite Conference of Ontario which had become the more progressive group and still is. This and the following 1893 massive division in PA USA was a MAJOR division of both leaders and their followers and to this date I believe defines the division of the old order and the Modern Mennonites.What is so ironic is that both the “old order group” in USA and the “old order group” in Canada in 1889 and 1893 actually formed conferences independently and separate from their originating conference that had begun in 1800 in Canada and in early 1700 in the USA. It has now been over 123 years since these schisms and what have we learned??? As the old saying goes, is the glass half full or is it half empty?? Who was right? Who was wrong? Were they both wrong or were they both right? or as others would say, does it even matter?
Many of the Bishops and Ministers and deacons (on BOTH sides of the 1888-1889 separation ) are in my direct lineage ancestral family tree with the key person being my great-great grandfather Bishop Abraham W. Martin. I also searched for years to find the grave stone of Bishop Martins s father’s gravestone. His name was John Z. Martin and it is written in Mennonite History that he was a very influential and respected Mennonite. Low and behold one time I was just walking around the front corner of the old Martins Mennonite Meetinghouse by St. Jacobs/Waterloo and I noted that the one gravestone and burial-spot closest to the old meetinghouse had the name Johannes Z. Martin in old script and was so surprised when I realized this was the marker I had been looking for. Johannes died many years after those buried further away from the meetinghouse so either he asked for his space to be reserved or someone else reserved it for him. Burials had begun here in c1830. Of course Johns wife Anna Weber is buried right next to him. In a direct comparison when I was speaking with my own dear father (about old burials) before he passed away, he specifically told me that he had requested the caretaker’s records for the Elmira Mennonite Meetinghouse indicate that he DID NOT want to be buried next to the meetinghouse…in fact he requested to be buried behind the caretakers shack in the cemetery, which is exactly where the remains of my parents are today. My dear father was nominated three separate times for the ministry in 2 different congregation (deacon twice and minister once) and all 3 times “the lot” passed over him. In 1995 it was my own dear father who was the very first Christian who proved that GOD was real to me. I often gaze at the long row of my other Martin Ancestors buried up the row right beside the old Elmira Mennonite meetinghouse and then I get completely immersed as my eyes go way to the left and behind the shed and “the TRUTH sets me FREE”
The photo below is the meetinghouse of my childhood and the home meetinghouse and burial ground of my parents and Grandparents and Great grandparents and Great-Great Grandparents This is West Woolwich Mennonite Meetinghouse (now known as Elmira Mennonite Meetinghouse) in Elmira Ontario
The meetinghouse below is where my Great-Great-Great Grandparents and Great-Great-Great-Great Grandparents worshiped and where they are buried. This is called Martin’s Mennonite Meetinghouse and is located just down the road from Elmira Ontario at St Jacobs/Waterloo
1893 The next schism/separation we should carefully consider and meditate on, is what occurred in 1893 when the Weaverland Conference Mennonites was founded October 6, 1893 after a massive schism occurred. (as per gameo.org website) “Weaverland Conference Mennonites are an Old Order Mennonite group that began in Weaverland, in East Earl Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was founded on 6 October 1893, when Bishop Jonas H. Martin (of my ancestory) and Deacon Daniel Burkholder, with several hundred followers, withdrew from the Lancaster Mennonite Conference (MC). 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. In 1987 the Weaverland conference still adhered to its founding principles. This group had made some concessions in favor of worship in the English language, modern farm machinery and black automobiles. Its members did, however, held to the usual Old Order Mennonite principles of nonresistance and nonconformity and used the Dordrecht Confession. This conference worked closely with the (Old Order) Mennonite conference of Ohio and Indiana (Wisler-Ramer group) and the Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference of Ontario. The Weaverland conference had daughter congregations in numerous counties in Pennsylvania, and also in the states of Virginia, Missouri, New York, and Wisconsin. In 1987 the Weaverland conference had 4,200 members, 69 ordained leaders, and 28 meetinghouses. In 2005 as per Directory of the Weaverland Conference Mennonite Churches” ***end of gameo.org info***
The Best Place I could ever live is PARADISE FOREVER, and my 2nd most cherished home would be “my earthly fathers home” (which I purchased from him for full market value) and my 3rd. most cherished place on this earth is Weaverland PA. Please read Ecclesiastes 2:18 for TRUTH
The key person in this schism was Bishop Jonas H. Martin 1839-1925 of my familial ancestry and he was directly related to Bishop Abraham W. Martin 1834-1902 who was the key person in the “old order” schism in Canada in 1888 and 1889 and also directly related to another one of my relatives Bishop Amsey M. Martin 1899-1985 who was a key leader in the more amiable formation of the Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference in 1939 in Ontario Canada. The “old order’ Mennonite bishop who succeeded Abraham was Bishop Paul S. Martin 1849-1914 who was followed by Bishop Ezra L. Martin 1849-1914 All of these Martin’s are from the patriarch Christian Martin 1669-1749. Tradition has been handed down from generation to generation that this Christian Martin was an Anabaptist minister who was imprisoned for his faith (for “Religious differences – beliefs contrary to the State Church and imprisoned in Trachselwald Castle in Switzerland from July 1717 to 1732, before being able (he was probably banished) to immigrate to America on September Sept. 21, 1732, when he arrived at Philadelphia aboard the Ship Plaisance. Christian was reunited with his sons in Weaverland, who had all immigrated to America before him. This Christian Martin was the grandfather of Bishop Henry Martin 1741-1825 who in 1809 was ordained bishop of all the Lancaster Mennonite Conference congregations including Weaverland and Groffdale of the state of Pennsylvania. (this was the era before the bishop district was sectioned off into smaller districts.)
To my amazement when I traced back to the above-mentioned Swiss Anabaptist Mennonite Christian Martin 1669-1749; I have realized that in 348 years of my Martin family direct paternal line/history there are only 4 homestead farms and only 3 burial grounds and only 3 old meetinghouses that have ever joined/separated/supported all 10 generations of me and all my forefathers going all the way back to the year 1727 in “Weberthal” Pennsylvania. I must confess that even some family researchers and fellow church historians think I am a bit eccentric in my passion/pilgrimage, but one must understand that my farm deed went from father to son from 1830 to myself, which is extremely humbling AND the fact that I regularly get to actually walk on the farmland which my ancestors farmed here in Canada AND Weaverland PA AND attend services at all 3 meetinghouse and the adjoining burial grounds which all of my forefathers were/are so connected to (2 of which are really close to my farm in Canada) [and amazing little snippets of history ie; when I found a diary listing which shows old Bishop Jonas H. Martin 1839-1925 of PA actually coming to my farm at Elmira Ontario Canada to visit my great-grandfather and the widow of my great-great-great grandfather Deacon Moses W. Martin) However most important of all, the more I research and document the Spiritual Pilgrimage of these same ancestors, the more I am humbled and impressed all at the same time, because I have become acutely aware that I am surely “the least” among these! Please read Ecclesiastes 2:18 for TRUTH
1900 The Mennonite Church in Virginia USA was faced with schisms in 1853 and in 1900 . The Wisler /Old Order division in Virginia was led by Gabriel D. Heatwole 1834-1922 and then Bishop John Dan Wenger. Bishop John Dan Wenger 1871-1967 was originally from Weaverland PA and well connected with Bishop Jonas H. Martin. The problems in Virginia were very similar and doctrinally related, to the 1888 schism in Canada and the 1893 schism in PA . Without getting into details yet, old order Bishop John Dan Wenger who moved to Virginia expressed himself very bluntly in the letters he wrote to the leadership and his friends in Weaverland. There are some excellent Mennonite writers emerging re; Virginia Mennonites and I would love to hear more detail from them.
1907 The next schism/separation we should consider, is what occurred in 1907 when “the Old Order Mennonites of Ohio and Indiana split into two factions. (as per gameo.org website) The group that was less traditional kept the name of Wisler Mennonites, but took the formal name Ohio-Indiana Mennonite Conference, while the more conservative fraction became known under the name of John W. Martin Mennonites. The central conflict was about telephone use and the English language in preaching, which a majority of the Wisler group wanted to be allowed. In the year 1924 the Wisler group also allowed the ownership of cars. A large group of more modern Wisler Mennonites in Ohio split from the Ohio-Indiana Mennonite Conference and formed the Ohio Wisler Mennonite Conference in 1973.” —- Bishop John W. Martin 1852-1940 was succeeded in his office by his son Joseph F. Martin 1888-___ at the Yellow Creek Mennonite Meetinghouse.
I do not have much personal knowledge about this schism re; these groups in Ohio and Indiana, but is is evident that the Wisler Group seems parallel/similar with the Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference where I was raised. As far as the John W. Martin Group, they appear to be similar/parallel to the 1927 Wenger Group (Groffdale Old Order) of PA.
1917 The next schism/separation we should study, is what occurred in 1917 when the David Martin Group was founded…by David B. Martin 1838-1920 and his son David W. Martin 1873-1959. David B. Martin had been ordained in the “old order” Mennonite Church for Elmira Mennonite and then he moved to South Peel congregation. The Dave Martin group is very unique in Canada because leaders David B. Martin and his son David Jr and their followers actually left the “old order” horse and buggy group claiming that they were NOT strict enough in following the Ordinances! This new Dave Martin group was extremely strict (some say orthodox) and this David Martin Group experienced numerous traumatic divisions causing extremely great hurt to its closely connected members and their families. I tip my hat to some awesome local authors like Sam Steiner at https://ontariomennonitehistory.org/tag/david-martin-mennonites/ and gameo website and http://gameo.org/index.php?title=David_Martin_Mennonites_(Ontario,_Canada) and
Charlotte Martin at http://www.mhso.org/sites/default/files/publications/Ontmennohistory16-1.pdf
And Peter Hoover as at http://gameo.org/index.php?title=David_Martin_Mennonites_(Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=114116
And Barb Draper who wrote the Excellent and detailed book entitled The Mennonites of St Jacobs and Elmira – Understanding the Variety
Interestingly numerous authors discuss the “ditch dispute” that was one of the causes of the Dave Martin Schism/division… I must disclose that Municipal Drain 1 and Municipal Drain 2 actually meet on my farm about 150 feet from my old 1855 farmhouse. My next door neighbor to the west is from a prominent family who joined the Dave Martin Congregation in the very beginning. Ironically I have a close neighbour relationship with this neighbor not much different than my other neighbors who are actually “old order” Mennonites, and I knew his father and grandfather well and in actual fact we were in the same “hay gang”. I can testify that The David Martin Group have been the hardest working Mennonite or Amish Group in the last 50 years…they actually promote this extreme, hard work spirit amongst themselves more than any other group does…and trust me when I tell you; my experiences as a youth with the impromptu wrestling matches in “the hay mow” at local auctions etc. these Dave Martin lads were overall physically superior to all the other groups. On a more serious note, I have found evidence that has never been published, of the legal actions and that the origin of this so-called ditch dispute are not in the early 1900’s at all, but go way back to 1890 and also miles and miles up the creek to Peel Twp. So consider this fact and realize that neither of the 2 Dave Martin’s had even been ordained yet in 1890. (food for thought) As far as other schism issues others have discussed in articles, the whole Metzger dispute was far more complicated and involved than what anyone has disclosed publicly so far. There is no doubt that the David Martin Schism involved very passionate personal disputes as well.
What is mind-boggling is that right after 1917 and in the exact same neighborhood where the Dave Martin Schism was occurring, a polar opposite reaction/movement was happening simultaneously and the result was out of the same old order congregations where the Dave Martin group came out of, and even included a few of their own members… a progressive group emerged and joined together in a progressive modern non-Mennonite congregation who became what we know as the Wallenstein Bible Chapel. My dear Uncle (an awesome Christian Friend) who once served on my committee was one of the earlier members of Wallenstein Bible Chapel. I personally have family in all 3 of these completely separate churches. In addition what most of my immediate living family are not even aware of is; my great grandma’s second marriage was to deacon of the Dave Martin Group, while my other great grandma’s second marriage was to the old order deacon of the very same South Peel old order Mennonite congregation noted above. This Deacon Nahrgang (who came from the Wilmot congregation in the 1888 schism) actually resided on my farm homestead after he married my widowed great-grandma. Oh, if the huge old cast iron bell in the little belltower on the top of my old 1855 farmhouse could talk… us local Mennonites would ALL be mind boggled! (Unlike what some outsiders might think, all the local Mennonite (non-city) congregations have always been very large comparatively and no, first cousins are NOT marrying each other) However; for instance just by coincidence, this same great-grandma mentioned above was originally married to Moses W. Martin 1832-1887 who was the Deacon of The Elmira Mennonite congregation and a trustee of The North Woolwich meetinghouse when erected and my Grandpa Moses died right before the 1888 schism/separation occurred. Ironically Great-Grandpa Moses was a brother to the Bishop Abraham W. Martin (who has come up so many times in my blog above) and my Great Great Grandpa was Deacon David Z. Martin 1815-1894 of the Martin’s Mennonite congregation in St Jacobs/Waterloo who was still very much alive and well at the 1888 schism and his son Peter M. Martin 1820-1902 was the preacher at Elmira Mennonite meetinghouse . For the sake of analysis I must state that when the Mennonite shareholders of the “German Company” which was founded in Pennsylvania decided to purchase the 60,000 acres in Canada by deed and the additional 45,000 acres in the tract Two deed, the Martin family were very minority shareholders, compared to the Eby and Erb and Weber and Brubacher and Wisler Families even though the original Canadian Pioneer with the last name of Martin had 17 children. Even though all of the Pioneer Peter F. Martin children went on to own their own farms, the evidence clearly shows that my Pioneer Martin family was far more involved in the Mennonite Ministry than just being farmers and land owners. Oh and I must also add here that 2 of these 17 Martin children were married and stayed behind in PA. One of them was Barbara Z. Martin 1795-1853 who just happened to be married to Minister David S. Martin 1790-1865 of Slate Hill Mennonite Congregation in PA. and the other daughter who was married and stayed behind in PA was Maria Z. Martin 1796-1875 and ironically she was married to Christian Zimmerman 1793-1869 whose family was at the very heart of the infamous Zimmerman-Lichty Mennonite Meetinghouse fiasco that also involved Bishop Jonas H. Martin of Weaverland. I must say that what happened at Lichty Mennonite is very worthwhile examining all on its own merit but that chapter will be dealt with another day…Just for record, I do NO believe that a true Mennonite and or a true Christian should be a “door mat” for any person Nor should they be bloodthirsty warriors.
1924 A large group of Wisler Mennonites in Ohio withdrew in 1973 and organized the Ohio Wisler Mennonite Conference. I would love to receive more info on this schism but if I do not have any response I will sort out my research and blog later…
1924 The next schism/separation we should research and study, is what occurred in 1924 when Stirling Avenue Mennonite was formed out of the First Mennonite Church in Kitchener. This is a critical schism to study if one is very interested in the “headcovering” issue because this was the core issue and the cause of this schism/separation. In addition it is additionally relevant, because the First Mennonite Congregation in Kitchener Ontario dates back all the way to 1809 and has always been a congregation at the center of the History of Canadian Mennonites. If you would like to study more about this issue, just compare what happened above to what happened in 1959 when the he Conservative Mennonite Church of Ontario emerged. I have included some photos in this section.
1927 (Horning Group) led by Bishop Moses G. Horning 1870-1955 of the Mennonite Conference of Old Order Mennonites-later changed to Weaverland Mennonite Conference. This Horning Group is the sister conference and equivalent to the Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference where my parents and grandparents were members for all their lives. Without getting into all the nitty gritty yet, (see 1939 listing) they are plain “old order” folks who in the thirties allowed their members to own black cars and use telephones. My dear father (even though he bought a car) kept both his light team and his heavy team of horses for almost 20 years after these conferences changed the rules and regulations. If you look at my main photo on the blog you will see little ole me on the back of the sleigh behind the light team. This light team ended up in the RCMP as one of their police horses.
The Horning Group and The Wenger Group shared meetinghouses on alternative Sundays which also mirrors arrangements made by the Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference to share meetinghouses here in Ontario on alternative Sundays with the old order group who did NOT accept automobiles. What is very interesting is that many refer to the Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference schism as “the amiable division” and the “friendly division” . (much food for thought)
1927 Groffdale Horning division continued… (aka Wengers) Old Order Mennonite Conference led by Joseph O. Wenger as per website info from gameo.org…”Groffdale Conference Mennonites were a body of Old Order Mennonites also known as Wenger Mennonites, so named after the group’s first bishop, Joseph O. Wenger. The Groffdale Conference is often thought of as a sister conference to the Weaverland Conference. Both of these conferences share a common legacy, and many of the meetinghouses of both conferences are used in common. The Groffdale conference was founded on 8 April 1927 by the withdrawal of the conservative element of the Weaverland conference from the more progressive portion (THE HORNING GROUP) which had accepted automobiles. The Groffdale conference prefers horse and buggy for conveyance, and in 1987 excluded ownership of rubber-tire tractors and automobiles. They tenaciously adhered to the German language in worship and home life (dialect literature and speech). The membership of this conference was estimated to be 4,200 in 1987. It had 32 meetinghouses and 65 ordained men. This conference had daughter settlements and was affiliated with similar groups of independent origins in numerous Pennsylvania counties and in the states of Missouri, Ohio, New York, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Indiana (Wisler-Martin group). Associate conferences exist in Virginia and Ontario.”
1927 The next schism/separation I would like to have a lot more information on, occurred in 1927 when Beachy Amish Mennonite Division happened. I have heard about the John B. Mast booklet, however I have this gut feeling there are individuals who are online who could give excellent written reports on this schism, and I look forward to reading their reports.
1939 The next schism/separation to consider is what occurred in 1939 when the Markham-Waterloo division occurred here in Ontario…It is referred to locally as one of the most peaceful Mennonite schisms, ever. This was my parents and grandparents Conference and I have referred some to it in the section about the sister Conference which began in 1927 in Lancaster Co. PA and was called the Horning Group and also called Weaverland Mennonite Conference. Because the Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference is where I was raised and my close adult relationship with my father …my file on this conference is a work in progress…and I imagine I will give out details if/as things move forward in this blog as The Spirit leads me. Discernment is a two edged sword…some days I feel like screaming the TRUTH on the highest mountains while other days I feel I need to “flee to the hills” in fear of the Spiritual war that is now raging in the world.
1946 The next schism/separation we should think about, is what occurred in 1946 when the Reidenbach Group withdrew from the Groffdale old order Conference. In 1946 about 35 members of Groffdale Conference of the Old Order Mennonites left the conference over the issue of participation in service at government run CPS camps as an alternative to being drafted into the army. The ones that left the conference to form the new group known as the Reidenbach Group felt strongly that a real Mennonite would rather go to prison as a completely neutral pacifist than participate even in a work camp run by the Civilian Public Service (CPS) These 35 members asked Bishop Wenger to disfellowship anyone who would not take the hardline position and accept prison rather than participation in the non-combatant CPS work camps. Bishop Wenger felt that each member had the right to decide whether to go to prison or accept a completely non-compatant pacifist position as a worker at a CPS camp. Gameo.org website states “Wenger refused the demand of the group. He allowed the drafted men and their families to decide whether to go to a CPS camp or go to prison. To the traditionalists, this response suggested that Wenger was acting as a dictator because the congregation was not allowed to vote on whether to accept Wenger’s policy of leaving the choice about CPS up to individuals and their families. The Thirty-Fivers refused to attend services. Martin and her son-in-law, David B. Hoover, withdrew from the Groffdale Conference and established their own congregation.”
This group was known as the Reidenbach Group or Reidenbachers or the “Thirty-fivers” and in 1956 this small congregation suffered another division when 17% of the group left over Minister Peter Nolt’s teaching on church and the state pertaining to Romans 13. This Nolt Group from PA affiliated for some time with an Orthodox Mennonite group in my area of Ontario Canada. None of these people seemed afraid to become what I would call real pilgrims.
1953 in 1953 another division in the old order group in Virginia occurred… see 1901 for more details…
1959 The next schism/separation we should meditate on, is what occurred in 1959 when The Conservative Mennonite Church of Ontario was founded. In1959 the following 6 Ministry and their supporters withdrew from the Mennonite Conference of Ontario;
1. Bishop Moses Roth 1897-1878 (photo below found online at gameo.org)
2. Bishop Curtis Cressman 1894-1971 see photo below Wedding photo of Curtis Cressman and Amanda Byler Cressman, 1919. Family photo(photo below found online at gameo.org)
3. Minister Moses Baer 1913-1978 (see photo and description below found online at Author Sam Steiners excellent website https://ontariomennonitehistory.org/2015/12/07/dissension-and-the-conservative-mennonite-church-of-ontario/
Dress codes reflected in this 1947 photo of the Biehn Mennonite Church Summer Bible School teachers and pastors. Moses Baer (left) and Curtis Cressman (right) wear the plain coat, with women in cape dresses. In Search of Promised Lands photo. Photo Credit for photo found online goes to Sam Steiner who wrote the excellent Mennonite History Book called In Search of Promised Lands.
4. Minister Elmer Grove 1925-1987 His wife was Ella Wideman and her photograph which I found on findagrave is below;
5. Deacon Andrew Axt
6. Deacon Clarence Huber who relocated in the 1940’s with several families from Virginia USA to help form a nucleus for this new congregation on the outskirts of the Mennonite community. 4 families left the small Berea congregation in 1959/60 to join the new Conservative Mennonite church.
The gameo.org website gives the following information; “The reason for the group’s withdrawal from the Mennonite Conference of Ontario (MC) was the desire to return to earlier biblical standards of nonconformity to the unequal yoke in regard to politics, immodest attire (dress), women’s hair cutting, and wearing of jewelry. They wanted closer adherence and obedience to scriptural church ordinances. Their appeal to the conference was ineffective, resulting in their withdrawal.”
1976 In 1976 a further schism occurred when a number of Ministers of the above detailed Conservative Mennonite Church of Ontario and their respective congregations determined that they wanted to refine their association with congregations within what was the existing Conference and expand their association of congregations to include a large number of congregations in the USA and so they all banded together and formed a defined brand new Conference of Congregations called The MIDWEST MENNONITE FELLOWSHIP according to gameo.org “The Midwest Mennonite Fellowship grew out of a number of ministers’ desire for fellowship for themselves and their congregations along with the need of a winter Bible School for their young people. Most of these ministers were from the midwestern United States. A few were from eastern Ontario. On 1 October 1976, 15 of these interested ministers gathered at Fairview, Michigan for a day of fellowship and sharing of concerns. Out of this meeting grew an interest in including others unaffiliated with a conference. At this meeting a committee of three were elected to plan the next meeting. The three brethren chosen were Samuel Yoder (Minnesota, USA), Leighton Martin (Ontario, Canada), and Roman Schlabach (Michigan, USA)…….. “In 2011 the fellowship had 36 congregations with a total membership of 2,166. Although Canada has only 25% of the congregations, it has about 50% of the membership.”
My own brother (and dear Christian Brother) is a member of the Midwest Mennonite Fellowship. I could be biased a tad) so I will rely on the number of members and the number of congregations, accomplished in such a short length of time, in these Conservative Mennonite Conferences which speaks for itself.
Above photo is of Bishop Leighton Martin and his wife Florence which I retrieved online from the excellent author, Sam Steiners website at https://ontariomennonitehistory.org/2015/12/21/origins-of-the-midwest-mennonite-fellowship-in-ontario/
MY SUMMATION Below
Mennonites leaders in the past were really good at discerning the issues that were in the hearts and minds of their members.
Members and families in those old congregations had a much closer relationship than most all of our larger modern Mennonite congregations have, nowadays.
The old schisms were caused by the following two problems 1. The conservatives were too conservative and the progressives were too progressive (all at the same time) At each and all of the major schisms, valid arguments came from both sides as dispute/debate was initiated…but at the point of separation/expulsion/schism I find 1. there was a lack of CHRISTIAN LOVE on both sides and for “orders sake” they simply separated.
A critical thing to bear in mind; in those old Mennonite congregations (in all three of the big conferences in both Canada and in the USA) communion would NOT be held in the affected congregations IF the majority were NOT “at peace”… There had to be peace amongst all those individuals who were prepared to partake in this highly anticipated event – HOLY COMMUNION – Both Spiritual peace and peace amongst the potential partakers was extremely important and in many cases a pre-requisite. I am certain that NOT BEING ABLE to participate in HOLY COMMUNION (regularly scheduled a year ahead on pre-determined dates) would create a very high level of anxiety for these poor folks and there would have been a lot of Spiritual pressure AND peer pressure on everyone, especially the leaders and the ministry to get Gods Church “In Order” as per Gods Purpose. This pressure caused these DIVISIONS and SEPARATIONS so that the communing members could be at peace with GOD AND the other members of the Congregation Of GODS CHURCH whom had decided by freewill and division and separation exactly which members including which ministry they were at peace with.
Using hindsight it seems clear to me that none of those old schisms/separations should have actually happened if obedience to Mark 26 :28-31 had been applied “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” satan laughed when he was able to get his way..
ON THE OTHER HAND, in the extremely wicked modern world and the spiritually weak congregations we experience nowadays, (many fake and lukewarm Christians) where it is clear to me that the SPIRITUAL WARFARE is intensifying at an alarming pace and there comes a point where it is GODS PURPOSE that a True Christian is separate from an irreconcilably bad situation. Seek THE TRUTH! Our modern problem is simply a reverse scenario of the old days. Many Mennonites nowadays are all caught up with the fact that the great commission was sadly neglected in the past and so many are trying to make up for lost time by being oh so “politically correct” and “all inclusive” with our fellow sinful humans, that satan is laughing once again IF we reverse the FIRST and the Second Great Commandments of Mark 26… satan is the great deceiver and he also knows his time is short.
To summarize I must confess; what I have found with BOTH the Old Order Mennonites and the modern Mennonites, leads me to one conclusion, we must be Christians FIRST and be Mennonites secondarily and we must focus more on Bible TRUTH and Genuine Christian Love in seeking HOLY COMMUNION and (not so much our doctrine and our ordinances and maybe we should NOT be too focused, on just the things that have given us a good name as Mennonites and Amish in the past. In other words we must stay focused on GODS COMMANDMENTS and NOT fixate on congregationally disputed doctrine. We must be followers of JESUS’s Ministry First!! and Menno’s ministry second!
We must remember that both satan and Jesus Christ came here on this earth to create division. (one with Gods Love and the other with hate for God) as JESUS stipulated at Luke 12:51 “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division” and at Matthew 10:35 where JESUS stipulated ; “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” And this is all because of the gift of FREE-WILL as a result that GOD would never FORCE anyone to Love Him! And MOST adult humans by personal freewill decisions are on the broad road leading to destruction…facilitated by satan the great deceiver who has great hatred for GOD and His creation, US!
I must also confess that I have tried so hard, to be even half as good a Mennonite as all my forefathers were, but now after many many years I must confess that I am just a prodigal son and a fellow pilgrim striving to be A TRUE CHRISTIAN based on THE BIBLE while constantly being reminded how critical Gods Grace is to our life everlasting. I associate daily and am surrounded for miles in every direction with many Old Mennonites and New Mennonites and I am convinced generally speaking that the Old Order group is too ordinance (ACTS) oriented and the Modern Mennonites are too worldly. I accept that the two groups (MY people) have very strong strengths and weaknesses and I personally was torn in the middle for many, many years. Both the conservative and the progressive groups are drifting further and further apart. Do not get me wrong in this response, I have a heartfelt love for my people, the Mennonites and the Amish, especially the dear older wiser ones, since many of them really do “ACT” like Christians. Mennonites in the past have been recognized among the most honest and trustworthy and hardworking people in both Canada and the USA…but I am afraid (very afraid) satan is focused on attacking the remnant of “good and right hearted” people in GODS and CHRIST’s CHURCH en-mass nowadays; using BOTH schisms AND false hearted-lukewarm-unity, SIMULTANEOUSLY!!!
May GOD Bless US AND Protect us from evil!
Delmer B. Martin (Please pray and use your Christian Discernment before you do anything with the personal information in this blog) Please send me your comments.
DRAFT ONLY Work In Progress (please forgive errors and omissions)