First Mennonite Church of Morton

Historical Highlights

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Many Mennonite families met in homes in Central Illinois.

Pleasant Grove Mennonite was built north of Tremont on land donated by Joseph & Catherine Ropp.  This is the location of our present cemetery.  Bishops who served Pleasant Grove  over the years were Andrew Ropp, John Smith, John Birkey, Samuel Gerber, and Simon Litwiller.

Goodfield Mennonite Church was located south of Goodfield on an acre of wooded hickory trees.  Cost of land was $50.  Services began in 1884.  Bishops serving Goodfield were Christian Ropp, Jacob Zehr, John Smith, Andrew Schrock, Samuel Gerber, Ezra Yordy, and Joseph Hartzler.  In both Pleasant Grove and Goodfield Mennonite, the ladies & little girls sat on the left and men & little boys on the right.  There were separate entrances for both.

Goodfield & Pleasant Grove Mennonite were charter members of the Western District Amish Mennonite Conference.  The 1899 National Annual Conference was held at Pleasant Grove.

The last Western Amish Mennonite Conference was held at Pleasant Grove on September 8-10,  1920.  Meeting in a tent were 2,000 delegates from Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, and Illinois.  Moderators were Bishop Sanford Yoder of Kalona, Iowa, and Bishop Samuel Gerber of Pleasant Grove, Tremont, IL.

The Pleasant Grove and Goodfield churches united to build a new church on land donated by Amos Roth, Sr.  Location was the corner of Plum & Chicago streets in Morton.  The Building Committee for the new Morton Mennonite was: Chairman Alvin Roth, Willis Eigsti, Jacob King, Mahlon Miller, Vernon Ripper, Clarence Yordy, Amos Zehr, & Peter Zehr.

May 4, 1941
Morton Mennonite was dedicated on May 4, 1941, with Rev. Sanford Yoder delivering the sermon.  Ministers were Leland Bachman, Jonas Litwiller, & Harold Oyer.  The first trustees were Alvin Roth, Jacob King, and Amos Zehr.

The name of Morton Mennonite was changed to First Mennonite Church of Morton.  Pastor at that time was Rev. Kenneth Good, who suggested this name change.

Nov. 17, 1961
The first meeting of the Building Committee, for planning the construction of a new church,  was held on Nov. 17.  The committee included: Clarence Yordy, chairman; Maurice Stahly, secretary; Glen Mooberry, treasurer; Marion Albrecht; Walter King; Herbert Roth; & Robert Yordy.

Oct. 24, 1962
At a congregational meeting the Building Committee was authorized to accept the building site donated by Samuel R. Roth, located at the corner of South Main and Greenwood streets in Morton.  Plans to proceed with the construction began.

May 3, 1964
The ground-breaking service for the new First Mennonite was held.

March 1965
The First Mennonite building and all of its contents, located on Plum & Chicago streets, were sold to the All Saints Episcopal Church.

May 30, 1965
Rev. Clyde Fulmer held the congregation's last service on Plum & Chicago streets.  Following that worship service, they traveled immediately to the new sanctuary at 250 Baltimore Avenue and had worship there also.

Sept. 12, 1965
The new First Mennonite Church was dedicated.  Sermon was delivered by Rev. Roy D. Roth of Siletz, Oregon, the son of Samuel Roth, donor of the land for the new church and parsonage.

A new red brick parsonage was built adjacent to the First Mennonite Church parking lot.  The Parsonage Building Committee was Chairman Russell Yordy, Donald F. Roth, Roy Blosser, Beulah Fulmer, & Wayne Zehr.

Feb. 14, 1966
First Mennonite Church received the shipment of a new Reuter pipe organ from Lawrence, Kansas.   It was installed in the sanctuary behind the front cross.  The organ, weighing over 3,600 pounds, contains 413 pipes and a set of twenty-one chimes.

Nov. 21, 1973
A special Thanksgiving service was held at First Mennonite on Nov. 21.  Those participating in the mortgage-burning ceremony were Pastor Milo Kauffman, the Church Building Committee, and the Parsonage Building Committee.

Sept. 1-3,1979
There was a Centennial Celebration at First Mennonite Church of Morton.  The Centennial Planning Committee was Rev. & Mrs. James Detweiler, Mr. & Mrs. Roger Harrington, Mr. & Mrs. David Neuhauser, Mr. & Mrs. Donald F. Roth, and Mrs. Elva Roth.   The committee created an original drama of chronological events from 1879 to 1979.    Over 100 people, dressed in costume, participated in dialogue and music.

Jan. 25, 1981
During the morning worship a two-octave set of Schulmerick handbells were dedicated at First Mennonite.  Later a third octave was received.   These memorial gifts are used to glorify God.

Jan. 1999
A Family Center addition was proposed for First Mennonite.  Building Committee was James Yordy, chairman; Marilyn Harrington, secretary; Dorothy Mooberry, treasurer; Steve  Belser; Ben Crocker; Jake Cashdollar; Ben Gerig; and Donald F. Roth.

Apr. 11, 1999
This beautiful sunny day was ground-breaking for the new First Mennonite Family Center.

June 11, 2000
The dedication for the new First Mennonite Family Center was held.  There was a  community open house from 2:00 to 4:00 P.M.

Nov. 6-7, 2004
A Quasesquicentennial dedicatory week-end of activities and a special worship service were held at First Mennonite Church in celebration of 125 years from 1879 – 2004 in serving and honoring God.  The sermon, entitled “Living on the Sunrise Side,” was delivered by Pastor Doane Brubaker.  Former pastors, Revs. Glen & Thelma Horner & Earl Smith read scriptures.  Co-Chairpersons for the 125th were David & Linda Neuhauser and Don and Ruthie Roth. The theme was “Jesus Christ Our Solid Rock.”

Aug. 30, 2009
The 130th Anniversary celebration of First Mennonite was held at Pleasant Grove Cemetery.  Following a potluck at 5:00 P.M. in the church Fellowship Hall, all traveled to Pleasant Grove.  Here history was shared as well as music, and a game of searching the tombstones for heritage information.

May 1, 2012
Pastor Doane Brubaker resigned to accept a position as chaplain of Maple Lawn Homes in Eureka, Illinois.   Group Design International, under the leadership of Pastor Michael Zehr of Ohio and Pastor Mark Vincent of Wisconsin, accepted the opportunity as interim pastors for First Mennonite.

May 5, 2013
First Mennonite Church extended a call to Aaron Yoder to serve as their pastor.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us.”  Ephesians 1:3