Jacob Dodson is Pastor of Wooster (Ohio) Mennonite Church.
The congregation of Wooster (Ohio) Mennonite Church is preparing to celebrate our 75th anniversary Sept. 9-10. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on our identity and calling as a community of believers, as well as God’s faithfulness throughout our history.
The story of our congregation can be traced to evangelistic tent meetings held at the Wayne County, Ohio, fairgrounds from 1939 to 1941. Initially these meetings were led by well-known evangelist C. F. Derstine, but eventually included local leaders such as Rudy Stauffer.
Following the meetings of 1941, a small group formed and began meeting in a home
purchased by Roland Ross, one of the original congregation members. By 1944, the group was officially recognized by the Ohio Mennonite Mission Board as the Wooster Mennonite Mission with eight charter members.
The primary ministries they were engaged in included home visitation, prayer meetings, hosting Sunday school and worship services. The mission continued to expand and outgrew its facilities by the early 1950’s. In 1954, a new church building was dedicated and the mission became known as Wooster Mennonite Church.
As the church formed, different expressions of ministry emerged and flourished including a sewing group for mission projects, a Mennonite Youth Fellowship, men’s and women’s discipleship groups and a radio program on the WWST station in Wooster. The congregation experienced a number of changes during these years that impacted its identity and sense of calling. These changes included phasing out traditional dress in the congregation such as head covering calling female members of the congregation to serve as elders and engaging with the campus community at the College of Wooster.
Despite numerous changes over the years, the congregation’s missional roots and desire to be an Anabaptist witness to the way of Jesus have remained constant. This can be seen in our current mission statement which reads:
Today I see the Spirit moving in our ongoing missional journey and in the empowerment of our people to serve with their unique gifts. Our partnerships with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and a local art ministry named Mosaic Connection have created unique opportunities for outreach to our broader community and have been a growing edge for us.
We are currently forming a sister church relationship with Yachiyo Bible Baptist Church in Japan. This developed out of support for a family with ties to both congregations. We are excited about how this partnership will enlarge our vision for mission.
Our 75th anniversary celebration is an opportunity for us to look back with gratitude at the ways God has been faithful throughout these years. We hope that this event will strengthen our relationships with former attenders and reaffirm our missional roots as we venture forward into new seasons of ministry.
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