A Brief History

Located five miles north of Harrisonburg, Virginia, on a slight jog just off Rt. 42, Lindale’s large and adequate building serves as a meetinghouse for one of the largest Mennonite churches of the Shenandoah Valley. Attendance during the school year frequently exceeds 400 and includes many students from local colleges and high schools and numerous growing families with children.

The spiritual heritage and history of Lindale Mennonite traces back for two centuries through a church named Brennemans, built in 1826 by early settlers of the Edom area. The Lindale name emerged in 1898. Its centuries of history, are capsulized in a 300-page heavily documented and thoroughly indexed book titled Lindale’s Song[1]. Harmony, growth, and fellowship are reflected throughout the many years of development. Change continues as a hallmark of Lindale history.

The adjoining cemetery began in 1788 when pioneer Abraham Brenneman was bereaved of his wife Marie and newborn daughter. For their burial he set aside a small plot of his large farm.  It became the oldest Mennonite cemetery of the area and continues as a community burial site.

A thriving Sunday schools program has always been an important ministry of Lindale’s history. Rotation of services in the district included other congregations; Trissels and Zion Mennonite. In 1900 a major series of revival meetings were begun by evangelist George R. Brunk I of Kansas. His wife was Katie E. Wenger, daughter of Jacob and Hannah (Brenneman) Wenger of the Edom area of Virginia. For many years such series of “revival meetings” continued. In 1919 Brennemans meetinghouse was closed and the newly built Lindale Church inherited most of the people.

A significant thread that runs through Lindale’s history has been the emphasis upon music and congregational singing. For numerous years many Sunday evening services were devoted to emphasizing a cappella singing. Other activities also helped to attract people. Slowly but surely the congregation experienced steady growth. Surges of growth came in the 1970s, 1990s, and in recent years, traceable in part to dynamic lead pastors Arthur McPhee, Loren Horst, and Duane Yoder. Women in ministry has for decades been comfortably accepted. Currently assisting the lead pastor are Associate Pastor of Congregational Life, Dawn Monger, Associate Pastor of Christian Formation and Youth, Deb Horst, and Children’s Minister, Diane Burkholder.

Building development kept pace with growth with three major buildings eventually emerging. The 1898 building was renovated and enlarged in 1947. What is now called the fellowship building was dedicated in 1979. The current large sanctuary that seats 475 people developed in the early years of the 2000s.

Prison ministry has for decades been common. Considerable healthy involvement of pastoral leadership with Virginia Mennonite Conference and its large Northern District, keeps focusing congregational attention on both the local church and the wider church. Lindale continues to try to “discern God’s niche for us,” and “we are truly blessed that God is choosing to walk among us,” summarized former lead pastor, Loren Horst. Duane Yoder said that we “seek to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ”  These comments describe Lindale’s outlook.

Submitted by James Lehman


[1] Copies of Lindale’s Song: A Century of Harmony, Growth, and Fellowship 1898-1998 are available in the church office.