ALLENSVILLE — Current and former members of the Allensville Mennonite Church will travel from as far as Spain to participate in the church’s 150th anniversary celebration June 29 and 30.
The celebration will begin at 6 p.m., Saturday, with welcome and prayer by Bob Zook. A meal will then be served in the pavilion.
The weekend will be full of memories and history from throughout the church’s 150 years, said Sherman Stoltzfus, Allensville Mennonite’s pastor.
Sharing will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday, when there will be a service in the sanctuary with some current and former members who have moved out of the area, said Stoltzfus.
Special music will be performed throughout the weekend.
Sunday school will begin at 9:15 a.m. June 30 for children up to fifth grade. A history overview of the early years — from 1869 to 1939 — will be held during this time. This will be followed by church highlights throughout the decades.
A meal will be served at noon in the fellowship hall.
In the afternoon, Phil Barr, who serves in Spain with his wife, Maretta, will give an update on the church’s involvement in Spain.
George Mohler will share about mission work in Belarus, where the church has sister congregations.
There will also be an open mic time where memories regarding mission trips or memories will be shared.
Carriage rides will be given at 4 p.m., followed by an evening meal at 5:30 p.m.
A presentation about the church’s vision moving forward will follow at 7 p.m.
Stoltzfus said a booklet with information about church’s history will be available throughout the weekend. A cookbook that includes recipes written by members of the congregation will also be on sale.
Artifacts from the Mennonite Heritage Center will also be available that weekend.
The land that Allensville Mennonite Church was built on was part of the Sharon Tract — over 1,700 acres of land that was given to Andrew Montour in 1767 by the Pennsylvania government for work he did as a translator between the Native Americans and the government, Stoltzfus said.
The Sharon Tract stretched from Jack’s Mountain to Stone Mountain and included land from what today is Waynesburg Road, stretching south to include land that Allensville was built on.
In 1796, the land was passed on to Benjamin Chew, who was a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
In the early 1800s, the town of Allensville was laid out on a portion of the Sharon Tract. The land that the Allensville Mennonite Church was constructed on was eventually transferred to Yost and Barbara Hartzler in 1869, when the first building was constructed.
The first settlers came to America from Europe and were of Amish descent. The first Amish to arrive in Big Valley came in 1791 as a group of four families. Eventually the Amish church was established in the Kishacoquillas Valley and came to be grouped into three districts — Upper, Middle and Lower. Difference of opinion regarding baptism — whether to be held in homes or in a stream caused sizable withdrawing and organization of their own. It was from this group that the Allensville congregation was organized in the early 1860s.
“We would have been the first Mennonite congregation in the Valley that started out calling themselves Amish Mennonite,” Stoltzfus said.
In 1898, another division took place, at which time the Locust Grove congregation was organized. From this time on the Allensville and Maple Grove congregations continued to worship together with the same ministerial body serving body churches with services alternating every Sunday until 1926 when it was decided to have services at both churches.
Before this time, Stoltzfus said Maple Grove and Allensville shared leadership, rotating services every other Sunday.
Allensville Mennonite Church may see some expansion in the near future.
According to Stoltzfus, the congregation of about 170 has recently seen growth of young families.
“We are in the process of praying about and working through a potential building project,” he said, adding that the church may need to add on some Sunday school space.
But the church is more than just brick and mortar, Stoltzfus said.
“When you celebrate history, you look at old buildings and think it’s interesting how they looked, but the church is about people and what God is doing through people. We want to keep that the focus,” the pastor said.
The church, he said, has a mission statement that focuses on four main areas that include worship, discipleship, community and missions.
“For the last couple years, we have had a team that has tried to do things that emphasize those areas of purpose so we would be a balanced and healthy church.”