About Locust Grove

Our Mission

To help people connect with Jesus, the church and their life mission.

Our Vision

We endeavor to share openly with people about Jesus, connecting them, inside and outside of the church, in order to help them find their mission in life and grow spiritually.

Meet the Staff

Bill Beck, Lead Pastor

I have been the pastor at Locust Grove Mennonite Church since 2008. I love the Lord, His Word and His church! I have been married to my wife, Sherry, for 38 years. We have 5 adult children and 3 grandsons. It has been a privilege to serve the Lord at Locust Grove. It would be a joy to have you join us.

Beth Miller

I have been at this job for quite a while, and I still love it! I have 4 children, 10 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Scrapbooking and going to ball games are some things I love to do.

What Do We Believe?

Believer’s Baptism

As evangelical anabaptists, we belive that baptism is a believer’s pledge before the church of their covenant with God to walk in the way of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit enables believers to walk in newness of life, to live in community with Christ and the church, to offer Christ’s healing and forgiveness to those in need, to witness boldly in the good news of Christ, and to hope in the sharing of Christ’s future glory.

Non-Resistance

As a Mennonite church, we believe peace is the will of God as revealed in scripture, notably in the life of Jesus Christ. Led by the Holy Spirit, we follow Christ in the way of peace, doing justice, bringing reconciliation, and practicing non-resistance even in the face of violence and warfare. We give our ultimate loyalty to the God of grace and peace, who guides the church daily in overcoming evil with good, who empowers us to do justice, and who sustains us in the glorious hope of the peaceable reign of God.

Footwashing

We believe we are called to follow the example of our Lord, who chose the role of a servant by washing his disciples’ feet. We practice footwashing four times each year as a meaningful symbol of service and love for each other

Want to know more?

To see the entire Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective (1995), you can read it here.

Our History

Our history began in 1940 when Lee Miller, from Shipshewana, Indiana, felt burdened to care for the hurting people of this community. Prompted by God, he drove around the area and found others who felt the same concern. They held revival meetings in the area, and many people turned their lives over to Christ. On Easter Sunday of 1940, the new followers were baptized into the church, the living body of Jesus Christ on earth. The church met for a short time in an empty house, and then built a new building at the present location on Findley Road.

     Finding the right leadership was a struggle, but after several years Orvin Hooley became the pastor and provided the stability needed for the congregation to grow and mature. During the 20 years of Orvin’s ministry, the congregation began to show its uniqueness, creativity and openness to new ideas. This was especially evident in the building program. In 1950, the back wall of the sanctuary was disconnected from the rest of the building, moved 18 feet away and the open section between the two parts was built back in. And the growth continued—only 14 years later, the congregation had grown so much that a new sanctuary was needed. This time the structure for the new sanctuary was built over the top of the existing building, and then the old one was torn down inside and hauled out, piece by piece.

     These early, growing years featured frequent revival meetings, literary (youth) groups, and the mission work of Froh Homestead. Other Mennonites came from around the country in voluntary service to care for the elderly in this retirement facility. Later in this period, Locust Grove planted a new church: South Colon Mennonite Church. Nearby, Camp Amigo, a Mennonite church camp, also began its ministry. Music was an important part of congregational life, with frequent hymn sings and traveling choirs that sang at other churches.

     The next period of long-term pastoral leadership began in the mid ‘60’s. Dean Brubaker came to the church as pastor. Soon afterward Jim Carpenter, a young man from the congregation, was licensed and ordained to ministry. Under their leadership, significant growth, a variety of ministries, and effective outreach marked the next 20 years. Youth groups were large with 22 young people baptized in 1971. Many pastors and church leaders were nurtured and developed here. During the Vietnam-era draft, many young men in the congregation chose alternative service and worked in hospitals and other settings around the country. In 1975 a fellowship hall was added onto the building, with extensive Sunday school space in its basement. Church attendance peaked in 1984 when 425 were present on a Sunday morning.

     A few painful things did happen. The charismatic movement was strong during that time, and some left Locust Grove for churches that were more charismatic. And in the late 1980’s the leadership provided by Dean and Jim came to a close.

     The next eleven yours brought difficulty and transition. The congregation’s energy faded and attendance declined. Changes in worship style delighted some and disturbed others. For a time, the youth group remained strong in numbers and attendance, but a major church split in 1997 brought the end of that time of youth group prosperity.

     Clashing leadership styles and differing understandings of the role of the pastor were key factors in this split. At the height of the conflict, Jay Ulrich resigned as pastor and began a new congregation. Many people from Locust Grove joined him at the new church. Average attendance on Sunday mornings dropped quickly from 250 to 150. Those who remained felt angry, hurt, and resentful over what had happened. Enthusiasm was at an all-time low. But when we were at the bottom, God helped us begin to find our way upward.

     The congregation went through a painful time of building a new leadership structure, rebuilding trust, and trying to see themselves having a positive future. Tim Lichti, the new overseer, helped with the restructuring and interim pastor Gerald Sims did an amazing job of affirming the congregation, bring healing and helping them move forward. Pastor Sims suggested that the congregation put together a Christmas drama to present to the community, which was enthusiastically received. “Mary: A Mother’s Story” drew more than 2,500 people every year. More importantly, it drew the congregation together with a shared mission that got it back on its feet and moving forward.

     Gerald Sims finished his three-year interim term as pastor in 2001. John Troyer was called to pastor the church and served until 2007. The current pastor, Bill Beck, started his time at Locust Grove in 2008.

     Today Locust Grove is a healthy, vibrant congregation. It has a sound governance structure, people are active and engaged, and it is impacting the community. Most of all… Locust Grove brings glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ.

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