FMC Story Line
Cornelius Jansen was expelled from Russia for encouraging Mennonites to move to America. His son Peter purchased 20, 000 acres in Jefferson County, Nebraska and encouraged people to settle there. The small town of Jansen, Nebraska is named after him.
About 15 Mennonite families left Heuboden, Prussia for America to escape compulsory military service. After a brief stay in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa the group arrived in Beatrice. They were a wealthy group and known for paying for farms with cash and bringing their Prussian servants with them to the area.
November 12 - The group gathered at the home of Elder Gerhard Penner, Sr. and decided to found a church. They chose a name to reflect their migration, Die Wehrlose Mennoniten Gemeinde bei Beatrice (The Defenseless Mennonite Church of Beatrice). The county courthouse served as worship place for the original 138 members. Later that year, the first children's Sunday school classes were held in homes. By 1905 there were classes for adults and children alike.
March 9-Two acres of ground were donated by Bernard Reimer and the first church building was constructed. It burned down a few months later and a second building was dedicated on May 23, 1880.
Rev. Gerhard Penner Jr. Was elected as Church Elder. He would serve until 1921. Other members of the congregation were elected to assist with preaching and other duties.
Nine new families arrived in Beatrice from Shiva, Russia led by Klaus Epp. Arriving with this group was Rev. J. K. Penner who served as the first teacher of the parochial grade school which began that year. One year of high school was offered from 1921-1924 until more students began attending public high school.
March 6-A group of Mennonites living in the town of Beatrice started meeting for worship in a rented church. With the help of First Mennonite, they were able to build their own church at 7th & Bell streets. This new church was dedicated in April of 1902.
FMC joined the Western District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church.
Mennonite families living west of FMC began worshipping in their own community, purchasing the Kilpatrick Church in 1904. With the advent of automobiles, this group joined