Cares Act funding information-->

Apply now Alumni | Give to BC | Athletics | Fine Arts | Moodle | Thresher Connect | Search


A Church Divided: Fundamentalism and Bethesda Mennonite Church, Henderson, Nebraska, 1934-1950

Faculty Supervisor:
Mark Jantzen
Year of Project Completion:
A Church Divided: Fundamentalism and Bethesda Mennonite Church, Henderson, Nebraska, 1934-1950


American-style fundamentalism made its first inroads at Bethesda Mennonite Church, a large, spiritually diverse, rural church, with a large-scale tent revival in 1934. While fundamentalism was not necessarily present in the revival, it helped prepare the way for its ideas to arrive later. The revival appealed to a more conservative, minority constituent within the congregation who would go on to serve as the base for later developments toward fundamentalism. The identifiably fundamentalist influences found their way into the congregation through numerous sources over the next 16 years in the form of a Moody-educated EMB minister in a neighboring church, radio programming, Cyrus I. Scofield’s Reference Bible, and finally, and most significantly, through Grace Bible Institute (GBI). Fundamentalism in Bethesda was not militant anti-modernism, as historian George M. Marsden argues, though it was perhaps on some level anti-modernist, nor was it a form of denominational conservatism, as some Mennonite historians contend. It was more concerned with premillennial dispensationalism and the support of GBI as a counter-institution to the liberal General Conference colleges. Fundamentalism always constituted a minority in Bethesda, was rarely spoken of from the pulpit or addressed publicly, and it was restrained by a non-creedal, progressive, General Conference-supporting majority and church leadership

Related file


About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.