What We Learned At Our 150-Year Anniversary: Pulaski Mennonite Church
We discovered that our church story changes dramatically with the coming and goings of eight or ten generations! When we gathered on Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31, many ‘regulars’ at Pulaski Mennonite Church were amazed that so many we didn’t know had returned to hear and share stories. And, we learned that stories of people from the past helps us gain perspective on the present and future ministry of the church.
We discovered that planning and hard work makes a setting for good things to happen at an anniversary weekend—and leads to some wonderful unplanned moments. We were blessed with the exuberance and energy of the children’s gathering, delighted by the humor and encouragement of former pastors and moved by the talking tombstones in pioneer cemeteries.
Patty Shelly, professor of Bible and Religion at Bethel College in Newton, KS was the featured speaker of the weekend, leading us in ‘Singing Through the Bible’ and ‘Cloudy, With a Promise of Reign.’ Patty’s father, Kenneth Shelly, was pastor of PMC 1954-1959. And, we remember the visiting at meal tables was noisy but marvelous—and, at the next anniversary celebration, we’ll plan for more singing!
How does one build a mailing list and get the word out for an anniversary celebration? We learned that asking for the Christmas card list from elders of the congregation makes a good foundation for reaching past generations and their kin. Then, Facebook and forwarding e-mails helps us reach the children and grandchildren of others. We also asked the congregation for names and addresses of their scattered families—and, we searched the lists of previous anniversary celebrations. As a result, we were pleasantly surprised that some visitors came from afar—not because they had personal experience with PMC--but because they remembered the stories of parents and grandparents about ‘The Church Among the Maples’ near Pulaski, Iowa.
Historical Sketch: Pulaski Mennonite Church
Amish and Amish-Mennonites began to gather in Davis County, Iowa in 1854, but it wasn’t until the beginning of the American Civil War in 1861 that a church was organized in response to the upcoming conscription of young men for the Union Army. When the Pulaski Church gathered for worship, the people brought memories and experiences from Ohio, France, Pennsylvania, Switzerland, Germany and Ontario, Canada. With the leadership of Swiss-born Philip Roulet from 1869 to 1895, the church began leaving the Amish practices and incorporating Sunday School, evangelistic meetings and community work. By 1890 a church leader wrote, ‘the Amish ways of dress and other markers are peculiar practices unknown to us.’ As a result, Amish historian David Luthy includes Pulaski/Davis County in his book Failed Amish Settlements.
Today, Pulaski Mennonite Church has 115 members and finds itself a neighbor to other Anabaptist groups including Amish, Weaverland Conference, Apostolic Christian and Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.
Former pastors attending the celebration included Del & Lucy Epp (1970-1972), S. Roy & Loretta Kauffman (1972-1986), Marv & Donnita Payne Hostetler (Interim 1984), John & Martha Bergen (1989-1994) and Mark & Karen Stahl (1994-1998). Darrell (Patricia) Zook is the current pastor since 2004.
September 26, 2011
Most of the dust has settled round about Pulaski Mennonite Church after the
150-Year Anniversary Weekend. We enjoyed the gathering of memory, the collection
of stories, pictures of the past and glimpsing the future in our children and grandchildren.
We’re sending along this note to thank-you if you were able to attend and, to let others
know of opportunities to link with present-day Pulaski Mennonite Church.
You may be interested in these items . . .
-Go to www.pulaskimennonite.org for a picture gallery from Anniversary Weekend
-Click on ‘Anniversary Weekend’ at www.pulaskimennonite.org to review copies of the ‘Talking Tombstone Stories’ and programs.
-You are welcome to e-mail us at
and ask to be placed on the weekly bulletin e-mail (or, you can view weekly bulletins at www.pulaskimennonite.org)
-Find us on Facebook . . . keep checking, we’re moving things around!
-Request a booklet that includes a timeline of PMC history and a reprint of ‘Old Family Lines’ compiled by Melvin Gingerich and Howard Raid in the 1930’s and 1961.
-Request a copy of Saturday night & Sunday program bulletins
-Request a CD or transcript of Patricia Shelly’s sermons from the weekend.
-Ask for a year-end report booklet and New-Year Schedule from the annual January business meeting
-Inquire about or change your membership status if you’ve been away for awhile or live at a distance
Most of all, we pray for God’s blessing upon your household and the household of faith here at Pulaski Mennonite Church. We hope that you’ll visit again.
Pastor, Pulaski Mennonite Church
Click on "Anniversary Pictures" for a review of the anniversary weekend.