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Lowville Mennonite Church celebrating 100 years

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LOWVILLE — The Lowville Mennonite Church is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a few different services this weekend.

“We’re glad to share this celebration with everybody,” said Donald Roggie, a member of the church’s centennial planning committee.

The church, on Ridge Road just off Route 812 in the hamlet of Dadville, is planning a service at 7 p.m. Saturday, featuring a talk by the Rev. Paul M. Zehr on how Lewis County Mennonites came to various crossroads and determined what direction to take.

Mr. Zehr, a Croghan native who is an author, retired teacher from Eastern Mennonite Seminary and retired bishop from Lancaster, Pa., will also give a message at 2 p.m. Sunday, followed by an open house with refreshments and displays.

The church’s Sunday morning service, to begin at 10:30 a.m., will also feature a progression of hymns and music from different eras, led by local music teacher Marvin Zehr. Sunday school begins at 9:30 a.m.

All are welcome to attend the programs.

“Mennonites are a branch of the Christian church with roots in the Protestant Reformation,” states a release from the church. “Part of the Anabaptist group, Mennonites are known for their emphasis on issues such as peace, justice, service and community.”

In 1833, the first Mennonites came to Lewis County from Europe and settled in Croghan. They started worshipping in homes in 1836 and, in 1912, built a church on Kirschnerville Road outside Croghan.

After several families moved to the Lowville area, it was soon decided that there was a need for another meeting place closer to this village. A church building at Rectors Corners in the town of Montague in 1913 was purchased and moved to Lowville Mennonite Church’s present site, with a dedication held in early 1914.

“It started with just a few families moving over,” Mr. Roggie said.

Within 20 years, the small building became overcrowded and a new church was built in 1934 to replace the old one.

“While the original building no longer stands, the year 2014 celebrates the 100th year since the dedication of the first Mennonite church in Lowville,” a release states.

Several renovations have been completed since 1934, the most significant being a rear addition built in 1971 and 1972. Construction of a car port and accessibility improvements have been done more recently.

The congregation now includes roughly 250 people who are either active members or regularly attending non-members, according to the church’s pastor, the Rev. Keith Zehr.

Membership in the two original churches, as well as one started in Naumburg in 1963, was combined until 1968, when individual church memberships began to be recorded, Mr. Roggie said. Ministers — including the late Richard Zehr, then bishop and the brother of Paul Zehr — had rotated among the churches prior to that change, he said.

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