History of East Goshen Mennonite Church

Building1942The East Goshen Mennonite Church can trace its origins back to a Sunday School first started by the Christian Workers Band at Goshen College. During 1929 these students laid the groundwork which led to a temporary Sunday School which was organized on July 20, 1930. In the first Sunday there were 14 persons attending with a high attendance of 112 being reached five months later. At that time the only church in the community was a Dutch Reformed congregation which held services in the morning and Sunday School in the afternoon. Many people who did not speak Dutch began to attend the East Goshen Sunday School. For some time there was an average attendance of 84 but this dropped later when the North Goshen Sunday School was opened and persons being bussed in from North Goshen began to attend there. After several years the East Goshen Sunday School was closed and did not reopen until 1941 when the present work was begun.

During the 1941-1942 school year student members of the YPCA at Goshen College conducted a survey of the East Goshen area. Building 1945This survey in which Martha Koch participated led to the formation of the church which began later that year. The first service was held on October 18, 1942, in a 16' X 24' building owned by Chris Schrock. Some time later the work outgrew this small house and a basement church was constructed with the idea of building onto it later. Paul M. Miller, a student at Goshen College, was the pastor; Paul Minninger was the bishop and Roy Roth was the first Superintendent. These men visited each of the Mennonite families living in the area and invited them to help support the new church. Five families began attending and supporting the church.

Because of the need for parking space they decided not to build on the basement but to move to another location. Simon Frey (Darlene Martin's father) donated the present site which was then a peach orchard. The lot was on a hill about the same height as on the south side of Rt. 4. Approximately 14 feet were bulldozed off the site at a cost of $3,000. Gospel teams of East Goshen members visited churches as far away as Illinois telling of the need and raising funds for construction. When the new building was constructed, several businesses in the area donated money because they were pleased with the work the church was doing to improve the community. That first building on the present site included only the main part of the sanctuary up to where the tee begins. Salem Bank, which was then remodeling, contributed the front doors which are now at the lower rear entrance.

Building 1948As the church developed, "...more and more people attended to enjoy the love and fellowship...", according to Martha Troyer. Sunday morning and evening services as well as Wednesday night prayer meeting were well attended, and many other activities involved the people in a variety of ways. Evangelistic meetings were held in a tent because the church was too small to hold the crowds. Many other evidences of the warmth and love of the people soon led to a large influx of people from other areas, and unfortunately the local people no longer felt comfortable in the congregation. Eventually the Light House was formed and many of the community people began to attend there.

The church continued to outgrow its facilities and several additions to the building were made until the Building1987building reached its present dimensions. Many of us can remember the Sunday morning we met in the parking lot for the ground breaking ceremony for the fellowship hall. Each of us carried a brick, and we placed them on the ground tracing out the future foundation for that addition. This act symbolized the statement on the brochures used for fund raising for the first building. The words, "Building a Church for God in East Goshen," have become the theme of our church's growth throughout its history.