Park View Mennonite Church History
“Park View Mennonite Church (PVMC) is a community of communities who worship God and follow Jesus by the power of the Spirit. Each community and its members participate in God saving, healing, and reconciling mission in our world, our neighborhoods, and our church.” [Vision Statement, 2009]
The congregation was founded in 1953 as the campus church of Eastern Mennonite College, now Eastern Mennonite University, and met in Lehman Auditorium (photos below). PVMC later became independent of the college and in 1968 built its own facility one-half mile north of the campus in the Park View neighborhood. In 1995 a new sanctuary, new classrooms, and a major renovation were completed. PVMC has a membership of over 400 active adult and youth members.
Permanent lead pastors through Park View’s history (photos below) have been Ira E. Miller (1953-1967), Harold Eshleman (1967-1974), A. Don Augsburger (1974-1980), Owen Burkholder (1981-1996), and Phil Kniss (1996-present). Its first full-time paid pastor was Owen Burkholder. Since then, pastoral leadership has developed into a team of several pastors carrying a variety of responsibilities. Presently, three pastors serve the congregation: Phil Kniss, senior pastor; Moriah Hurst, nurture and faith development pastor; and Paula Stoltzfus, care and formation pastor.
The congregation has an active program of fellowship activities, Sunday School, men’s and women’s Bible studies, children and youth activities, and monthly Taizé-style evening meditative worship services for the larger community. Many of PVMC’s members have participated in mission and service agencies.
The congregation gathers each Sunday morning in worship to praise God’s greatness, to seek God’s life-giving presence, and to experience Christian fellowship. Singing is an important part of PVMC worship, and incorporates many styles of music. In addition to congregational singing, worship often includes a choir and other vocal and instrumental ensembles. Services also include scripture readings, prayers, children’s stories, silence, and a sermon that applies biblical truths to daily life.
Sunday morning services are broadcast live each week on WEMC 91.7 FM, and are also streamed live online at www.wemcradio.org, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Park View Mennonite Church is a member of the Virginia Mennonite Conference and Mennonite Church USA. It remains committed to its strong ties to Mennonite education, to international missions, and to providing a Christian witness to the Harrisonburg community.
Text above adapted from John Horst's 2010 article in Global Anabaptist-Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO), accessible here.
Historical building photos:
Former lead pastors:
Temple of Learning: Shenandoah Valley Mennonites and Education
This is a video produced in 2010 by Park View Mennonite Church on the occasion of the 175th Anniversary Celebration of Virginia Mennonite Conference. It was our contribution to the year-long celebration in 2009-2010. We commissioned videographer and documentarian Stephen Kniss to film and edit this video, with the support of an advisory task force.