North Fork 2

History records changing dictates of Mennonite faith
By Lauren Jefferson

DAPHNA—The congregational history of Zion Mennonite Church written by Elwood Yoder reflects the changing dictates of the Mennonite church. Some of the more interesting changes were about musical instruments, transportation and competitive games.

Musical Instruments
In 1927, the Virginia Conference leaders decided to oppose the use of musical instruments. Preacher Samuel Shank had purchased an organ in the 1890s, which his son, Perry, had learned to play. An ordained minister, Perry had to conform to the conference’s decision and the organ was removed from his house by an obliging brother-in-law who offered an oak table in exchange. Only in 1948 did the conference rescind the ban on owning musical instruments.
Zion has developed a proud tradition of musical discipleship, which at times has included three choirs, a praise team, several quartets and special groups like the gospel bluegrass band Daphna Creek.

Local businessman, farmer and entrepreneur H.D.H. Showalter was a lifelong supporter of both Trissels and Zion congregations. He was one of the first in the area to purchase a Model T and later a royal blue Lincoln, a “monstrous, seven-passenger touring car reputed to have been by far the longest car in the churchyard.” At a time when most Mennonites owned black cars, Showalter was questioned about his choice of flashy blue. “I don’t buy cars for the paint,” he said. “ I buy them for transportation.”
Vehicles became an important tool of ministry during the 1940s through the 1960s when the Summer Bible program was in its heyday. Members drove up to mountain churches and schoolhouses and camped out for two weeks, teaching children in remote areas of  Virginia and West Virginia. For years, Ray Kuykendall drove the Bible school bus route to bring children to Zion.

Competitive Games
During Pastor Lloyd Hartzler’s tenure from 1959-61, a group of boys who wanted to join a church softball league were told they couldn’t.
In 1980, Pastor Harvey Yoder and others in the congregation encouraged the building of a softball field west of the parsonage to enhance connections with local families. That same year, 42 boys and five dogs showed up for the inaugural game, the first of many during the next decade. Within a few years, a girls’ team from Zion called the Grizzlies won the County Recreation League Championship.
Sports and recreation often provide fellowship opportunities for care groups and Sunday school classes, as well as in the congregation’s many activities at Highland Retreat.

May 12-18, 2010