First Mennonite Church of Nappanee
celebrating 125th anniversary
NAPPANEE- First Mennonite Church, 900 W. Market St., is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a special worship service titled, "Remember; Celebrate Hope" at 10 a.m. Sunday. The service will be followed be a potluck meal at noon, with sharing memories scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. First Mennonite Church notes that the first church in Nappanee was the Amish Mennonite Church led by J.P. Schmucker, with 13 charter members. The church grew quickly, meeting in the town schoolhouse. In 1878, a new meeting house was built a half-mile west of Nappanee- the present location. There were swamp lands between the church and the center of Nappanee, so access to the church was virtually impossible during certain time of the year. Members often walked along the B&O railroad tracks and then cut across a meadow to attend the services. The church building was extensively remodeled in 1910, in 1925, in 1954, and in 1987, always incorporating the original structure. In 1917, the church adopted the name, "West Market Street Mennonite Church." In 1926, the church became a member of the Mennonite General Conference and was officially known as First Mennonite Church.
According to professor James E. Landing, this church grew out of the initial split of the pioneer Amish settlers to the Nappanee area in the 1850s. Many of the Stahly family became part of the Amish-Mennonite movement.