Trissels Mennonite Church Bicentennial   1822-2022

During 2022 we celebrated 200 years of God's faithfulness with concerts, lectures, tours, and a homecoming weekend! 

There was an event every month from May through October. Read description below.

Picture is a painting by Anna Mae Pellman representing the original church building.

Virginia’s oldest Mennonite congregation celebrates a bicentennial

The Trissels Mennonite Church sanctuary and cemetery sit on a hill overlooking the Cedar Run creek. In the 1770s Mennonite families began settling along Cedar Run. By 1800 at least thirty Mennonite families lived in the region, and in 1822 they decided — not without controversy — to begin building a 20 feet x 25 feet log meetinghouse next to the cemetery which was already there. The church’s deed to the land is dated 1823 but, according to reliable tradition, the building had already been erected. Other Mennonite church houses soon followed: Springdale and Pike in 1825, and Weavers in 1826.

How does a congregation celebrate two hundred years of established presence in a community? Planners hit on the idea of a series of monthly events beginning in May and culminating with a homecoming weekend in October.

Sunday, May 1, 2022 - The morning sermon was “Called to Remember” by Elwood Yoder who was wrapping up writing the Trissels history book and was full of inspirational stories from Trissels’ past! That evening’s Harmonia Sacra Sing began with participatory history: a Singing School reenactment led by Andrea Early and others in historical costume.

Sunday, June 12, 2022 - All enjoyed Music Under the Oaks, an afternoon concert by Good Company, some of the Valley’s finest a cappella, held outside.

Sunday, July 10, 2022 - After a carry-in noon meal, Eunice Showalter led a Cemetery Walk & Talk, beginning in the (air-conditioned!) sanctuary with a presentation of the history of the cemetery and description of its parts, followed by a walking tour outside.

Sunday, August 7, 2022 - We viewed a video (digitized, with captions) of the pageant “Generation to Generation” that was recorded at our 175th anniversary celebration in 1997. Written by Grace Showalter for our sesquicentennial in 1972, this pageant was a fun way to learn our history, especially since it starred the younger versions of many sitting around us!

Sunday, Sept 11, 2022 - Mid-afternoon around forty of us boarded an EMHS bus for a Tour of Historical Sites near the Trissels church. Elwood Yoder led us as we stopped and learned about, for instance, the Rhodes family cemetery (near the Rt 42-Trissels Rd intersection), the Showalter house (Woodlands Church Rd), and the Brunk homestead marker (Cedar Run Trail).

Friday, October 21, 2022 - Our homecoming weekend began with David Augsburger, pastor at Trissels during 1963-1971, sharing Stories From the Life of a Young Pastor. After a lecture by Elwood Yoder on his new book, Under the Oaks: A History of Trissels Mennonite Church, Broadway, Virginia, 1822-2022, we closed with “Praise God from Whom” (#606), followed by a book signing and refreshments of cider and pretzels. For a copy of the book, visit

Saturday, October 22, 2022 - A full house found much joy in a Homecoming Concert by two who grew up at Trissels. First, Madeline Bender, an international opera singer who founded and directs a performing arts collective in New York City. Then Jerry Derstine (JD Martin), a songwriter whose songs appear in our hymnals and also include many Number One country and pop hit singles. The evening was excellent (that seemed the unanimous sentiment!) because both artists are not only good musicians but good people.

Sunday, October 23, 2022 - Our first hour was a Panel of Previous Pastors sharing favorite memories of their time here. Then in our worship service David Augsburger preached on “Wonderstruck, often Thunderstruck, by Grace”—basically an opportunity to tell more grace-soaked stories from his time here! After a fellowship meal, we planted an oak tree by our parking lot.

It was fitting to end our festivities with those three things. A worship service — a celebration of God, not a celebration of Trissels as if we by our own greatness arrived at two hundred years. And then a fellowship meal — one visitor thanked us for our “continuing tradition of having the very best fellowship meal anywhere.” (They said it, we didn’t!) And then a tree planting — marking the beginning of our next century!

Written by Harold Miller, pastor at Trissels 2009-2024

See videos and video clips of the events at