May 23, 2010

Zion Mennonite Church Observing 125th Anniversary Posted 2010-05-22
By Tom Mitchell



Joy Yoder (left), Becky Brenneman (center) and Brenda Fairweather untie a red oak tree on Thursday in preparation for a planting Sunday marking the 125th anniversary of Zion Mennonite Church south of Broadway. The event will be part of Zion's homecoming service.
Joy Yoder (left), Becky Brenneman (center) and Brenda Fairweather untie a red oak tree on Thursday in preparation for a planting Sunday marking the 125th anniversary of Zion Mennonite Church south of Broadway. The event will be part of Zion's homecoming service.

Photo by Michael Reilly

HARRISONBURG - This weekend, a Rockingham County church celebrates a birthday and a birth.

On Sunday, Zion Mennonite Church, at 3260 Zion Church Road, just south of Broadway, observes its 125th anniversary. The event, part of Zion Mennonite's homecoming service, also includes the planting of a red oak tree.

Activities include a 9:30 a.m. Sunday school, a 10:30 a.m. worship service and an 11:45 a.m. distribution of a book on the history of Zion Mennonite titled "We're Marching to Zion" by church member Elwood Yoder.

At noon, Yoder will sign copies of his book and the church will hold a potluck fellowship meal.

Festivities close with a 12:30 p.m. "time of reminiscing" followed by the tree planting at 1.

Yoder, 53, who teaches history at Eastern Mennonite High School, took the title from a verse in a hymn "Come We That Love the Lord," by 18th-century British hymn writer Isaac Watts.

Sunday's event addresses a history at Zion Mennonite that consists of four key dates: 1885, when the church was founded and a single-story, wood-framed building erected; 1941, when a three-story brick structure replaced the first site; 1989, when the church added a three-story wing; and 2008, when a fellowship hall arose.

Each phase of construction required church members to remove trees, Yoder said. The planting of new trees in recent years serves to partially replace those cut down, but also lends symbolism to the occasion, he added.

Thursday night, members of Zion Mennonite dug a hole that they plan to fill with the new tree, Yoder said.

"When I think of a tree, I think of acorns that spread out from the tree, like many of our young members who leave our church and move elsewhere," he said.

"I hope this new tree represents future generations of us at Zion Mennonite," added church member Tony Brenneman, 55. 

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