The First Mennonite Church of Berne, Indiana, dates back to 1852 when a company of approximately 70 Swiss Mennonites immigrated from “Muensterberg” of the Bernese Jura Mountains. They landed in America on April 28, 1852, along with their minister the Rev. Peter Lehman. They immediately organized as a church. These pioneers had heard of the beauty and freedom in America from some of their relatives who had arrived in America as early as 1838 in the Vera Cruz area.
The church building was erected in 1856. The congregation grew rapidly. New churches and alteration and enlargement programs were necessitated in 1879, 1886, and 1899, until the new Mennonite church of Gothic design was constructed from 1910-1912 [the sanctuary of this building is the largest in North America] and was dedicated on Easter Sunday, April 7, 1912, debt free. The education building, which includes an open fellowship area, was added in June 1959. It provides a chapel, radio control room, library, kitchen, prayer and council room, Sunday school rooms, and staff offices.
Missions and Christian service are emphasized as part of a Christian’s responsibility. There are strong local ministries as well as support for ministries throughout the world. Locally, we have children & youth programs at each service during the week, as well as service projects, community outreach and social activities. In addition, on Wednesday evening we have a fellowship meal and various class options for adults as well. Local nursing care and retirement centers, broadcast over a scanner system, and a radio station. Ministry of music, also, has a very strong emphasis in this congregation, including the Mennonite Choral Society, which gave its first concert in 1891.
It is this church’s prayer that we continue to seek the Lord’s will as we minster to the city of Berne and throughout the world, Christ’s teaching through the Holy Scriptures. May all who choose to enter the welcome door of the First Mennonite Church experience Christ’s love, forgiveness and acceptance!