Ebenfeld Mennonite Brethren Church is made up of people from a variety of Christian faith traditions. While some of us are life-long Marion County residents, many of us grew up in or have lived in other Kansas communities or other states. We are business people, educators, health care professionals, farmers and homemakers. We come from as many as four area school districts.
Because we live and work in a variety of settings, we enjoy seeing one another on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. We are nurtured in our faith during worship services and Bible studies. We look for ways to serve our communities and neighborhoods as individuals and corporately.
This diversity has characterized Ebenfeld MB Church since it was founded in 1876 as the first Mennonite Brethren church in North America. From the beginning, Ebenfeld has been a diverse congregation that seeks to be a spiritual family in spite of our differing backgrounds and traditions.
While some Mennonite congregations immigrated as organized congregations, the Ebenfeld MB Church traces its beginning to 1874 when two Mennonite Brethren families from two different South Russian communities settled as farmers in the Ebenfeld community of Marion County. The church was formally organized two years later with Rev. Peter Eckert as their ordained minister.
Over the next 11 years, immigrants continued to arrive on the prairies of Kansas and joined the Ebenfeld congregation. These families came from a variety of religious backgrounds—Mennonite, Lutheran, Catholic, Reformed and others. The immigrants came from as many as 11 communities and regions in Russia.
While new families added vitality to the congregation, they brought with them conflicting traditions, practices and viewpoints. Uniting the diverse group was a challenge, but church leaders and members dealt with their differences and by 1885 the young congregation had stabilized.
As the Ebenfeld congregation matured, they diligently pursued their faith, worshiping together and serving the spiritual and physical needs of their community. Baptisms and revival meetings regularly continued to add to their membership. The congregation expanded its vision—sending out missionaries and becoming involved in various denominational endeavors, including the founding of Tabor College. A larger church building was constructed in 1904 and rebuilt in 1924 after a fire destroyed the building.
Fast-forward 100 years and you can see that elements of our early history continue to characterize Ebenfeld MB Church in the 21st century. We remain a diverse congregation that emphasizes discipleship, worship and service. We continue to send out missionaries and pastors and support the ministries of U.S. Mennonite Brethren. We remain a “country church” and over the years the church building was renovated.