North Fork 1

By Lauren Jefferson

Photograph by courtesy

DAPHNA — Zion Mennonite Church’s early history is “really the history of the Mennonites in this northern area,” said Elwood Yoder, who wrote the congregational history that will be released during the May 23 celebration at the church.
For years, local Mennonites worshiped at Trissels Mennonite Church, established in 1822 as one of Virgina’s first Mennonite churches.
In 1885, there were enough Mennonites clustered around the area called Cowan’s Station (now Daphna) that another church was built.
Worship rotated between several churches in the area, including Trissels, Zion, Plains, New Dale, Lindale and Brenneman’s, which formed the Northern District of the Virginia Mennonite Conference
In the late 1800s, Zion became a “home church” that supported preachers and members who traveled in schoolhouses and small churches in the Brocks Gap area and as far north as Baker, W.Va.
In 1941, Zion began holding regular Sunday services.
Zion is well known for its community outreach. Locals who are not members of the congregation might have participated in the two-week summer Bible school programs, Yoder said. “These programs were very large, more than 100 children from all around the area, whether their parents were members or not.”
An active youth program, which drew children for education, religious instruction and fun activities, also served an instrument of mission in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.
Since 1999, the church has hosted an annual community event called the Daphna Picnic, which is attended by the congregation and neighbors, many of whom had relatives who were once listed on the membership rolls.
The congregational history also records strong ties with Pleasant View Home and its residents. The land was donated by congregation members David and Goldie May and several members have sat on the board or volunteered. The church also has ties with Eastern Mennonite High School (students and faculty attend and the choir often performs at worship services) and Eastern Mennonite University.

Zion Mennonite Church, at 3260 Zion Church Rd. north of Linville, hosts a 125th Anniversary Celebration May 23 featuring special music, an audiovisual presentation and music at 10:30 a.m. with a fellowship meal following.
“We’re Marching to Zion: A history of Zion Mennonite Church, Broadway, Virginia, 1885-2010” will be available at the anniversary celebration and afterwards at the church office, , during regular business hours: Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.  Cost is $20. For more information, call 896-7577 or visit

May 12-18, 2010