The history of Strickler’s Mennonite Church is closely connected to Shope’s Mennonite Church. Shope’s meetinghouse began before Strickler’s as a small log building erected in 1816 near Highspire, Pennsylvania. Strickler’s meetinghouse was erected in 1837 three miles east of Shope’s at its current location. The original Strickler’s meetinghouse was built of limestone and measured 28 feet wide and 42 feet long. The same congregation maintained both buildings, alternating regular worship services between both locations.
With a growing congregation, the Strickler’s meetinghouse could no longer adequately accommodate the people. In 1922, the small Strickler’s meetinghouse was razed and was replaced by the present brick building, measuring 42 feet wide by 70 feet long. The limestone from the original meetinghouse was used to form the foundation for the new building.
Cooperation between Shope’s and Strickler’s continued for many years, with services alternating between both churches each Sunday. Around 1950, both Shope’s and Strickler’s began to have Sunday School simultaneously each Sunday, but continued to alternate worship services. In 1965, the congregation decided to conduct all Sunday services at Strickler’s. The Shope’s meetinghouse did not meet the standards of more rigid building codes for an increasingly suburban community, and the declining membership did not provide an incentive to renovate the building. It continued to be used occasionally, especially for prayer meetings during the summer months. In 1976, the congregation donated the building, and all services were held at Strickler’s. Today the Shope’s meetinghouse has been converted to a residence.
From its beginning, Strickler’s was connected to the Lancaster Mennonite Conference. In 2000, the congregation discontinued its membership with the Lancaster Mennonite Conference. Issues of difference with the Conference included such issues as women in leadership, divorce and remarriage, and the prayer veiling. Strickler’s remained unaffiliated until 2006, when they became a part of Biblical Mennonite Alliance.
Over the years, many ministers have served at Strickler’s. The more recent pastors have included Russel Zeager, James Keener, Elmer Breneman, Edward Meyers, Philip Oberholtzer and Mervin Breneman. In 1947, Russel Zeager was ordained and served until his resignation in 1992. James Keener was ordained in 1965 and served until 1972. Elmer Breneman was licensed in 1980 and ordained in 2001, retiring in 2022. In 2002, Edward Meyers was ordained, and served as the lead pastor from 2007 until 2023, again continuing as associate pastor. Philip Oberholtzer was ordained in 2010 and serves as associate pastor. Mervin Breneman was ordained in 2020 and was installed as lead pastor in May 2023.
This is a summary of several articles compiled by Lloyd Zeager. For more detailed information, see the papers below written by Lloyd Zeager.
A Dauphin County Mennonite Congregation: Strickler and Mumma/Shope by Lloyd Zeager.
Posted by permission of Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, 10 (April 1987): 12-20, published by Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, 2215 Millstream Road, Lancaster, PA 17602-1499.
Chronology of Significant Events by Lloyd Zeager.pdf