Virginia Mennonite History Book

A joint project of Shenandoah Valley Mennonite Historians and Virginia Mennonite Conference Historical Committee, “interpreting the past to inform the present.”


Overview
A new history book is being planned that will narrate signs of God’s kingdom in a unique southern context, distinct from other area Mennonite conferences. The emphasis will be on Virginia Mennonite Conference churches, but other groups that have intersected with or emerged out of VMC will be included.


The Beginning
Former Virginia Mennonite Overseer Glendon Blosser chaired a joint meeting of the Shenandoah Valley Mennonite Historians the and Virginia Mennonite Conference Historical Committee in February 2011. This body authorized the writing of a new history book about Virginia Mennonites and churches in surrounding states associated with Virginia Mennonite Conference. The joint committee includes members from both historical committees. The VMC Historical Committee members are Elwood Yoder, Chair; Simone Horst, Archivist; James Rush, and Ken Seitz.

The VMC Historical Committee, Shenandoah Mennonite Historians, and History Book Committee signed a new Memo of Understanding in 2021. The biggest change since the 2011 meeting is that Nolt and Yoder will co-author the book with instead of being written by Nolt alone.


The Need
The narrative in Harry A. Brunk’s fine two-volume set of history books ends with 1960. New churches and ministries have been established since Brunk finished his scholarly books. The second volume is difficult to find and expensive to purchase.

It’s time to tell the distinctive story about Mennonites in Virginia and surrounding states to new pastors and leaders in Virginia Conference, as well as to a national audience, that hasn’t had access to the previous books.

The History Book Committee is fundraising to cover the costs of research and writing, with about $50,000 still needed as of September 2021. Virginia Mennonite Conference is collecting donations and keeping financial records for the project. All donations are tax deductible and should be made to Virginia Mennonite Conference and designated for the “History Book Project.”


The Vision

Steve Nolt

Steve Nolt

The book will be co-authored by Steven Nolt, professor of history and Anabaptist studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and senior scholar at the college’s Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies as lead author, and Elwood Yoder, Editor of the Shenandoah Mennonite Historian and former history and Bible teacher at Eastern Mennonite School as co-author.

Our history book will outline distinctive features of the overall Mennonite story such as immigration into the Valley, a southern geographic and cultural context, race and slavery, the Civil War, twentieth century church institutions and missions, and twenty-first century developments.

The authors will write a chronologically-organized, narrative history focusing on people and churches of Virginia Mennonite Conference (VMC). The authors will include other Mennonite groups

Elwood Yoder

Elwood Yoder

that have departed or joined VMC over time and Mennonites with links to VMC via migration and mission (such as Jamaica Mennonite Church, Mennonite Church of Trinidad and Tobago, and others). Nolt and Yoder aim to situate the Mennonite story in Virginia’s broader historical and cultural context and the Mennonite world beyond Virginia.

The authors will seek to tell the stories of women and men and to include the voices and experiences of minority groups with VMC history. The book will include a comprehensive index and appendix of selected items, and the book will include a number of photos and captions.

The goal for the book’s release is sometime in late 2025, with the writing completed by October 2024.


How to Contribute





Please contribute online by clicking the button above or send a check made out to Virginia Mennonite Conference with “History Book” on memo line. (Conference address is at bottom of page.) Congregations are asked to contribute $250 annually over a four-year period.

Please consider giving at the following levels:
$5,000 (Benefactor)
$2,000 (Patron)
$1,000 (Partner)
$500 (Sustainer)
$250 (Friend)

For more information, contact Elwood Yoder at elyoder@gmail.com