History of Hopewell Mennonite Church

You also, like living stones, are being built into a temple of the Spirit...
1 Peter 2:5

Hopewell Mennonite Church had its beginnings in the Kouts, Indiana area when John C. Birky and Simon Litwiller, ministers from Hopedale, Illinois helped to organize the Mennonite families living in the Kouts area into a Sunday School, which began on April 28, 1918. Charter members of the congregation included John, Lizzie (Miller), Mabel and Laura Reinhardt; Lee and Iva (Reinhardt) Sutter; William and Annie (Bechler) Birky; Dean and Hazel (Fleener) Birky; William and Millie (Birky) Martin; Andrew, Mary (Martin) and Nellie Gingerich; Andrew and Emma Gut; and Lewis and Bertha (Martin) Birky. Some of the families began arriving in the Kouts area from Hopedale, Illinois in March of 1916 and were joined by others from Illinois and Nebraska in 1917 and 1918.

John C. Birky had oversight of the new church and gave it the name of Hopewell. The first Sunday School was held in homes and in the Cook Schoolhouse south of Kouts, with an enrollment of approximately 46 persons. Since there was no minister at Kouts, preaching services were held once a month when a minister came from Illinois.

In June, 1918 the Indiana Michigan Mennonite Conference invited the new church to join them in church and conference relations, and in September of that year Hopewell became a congregation under the Indiana Michigan Mennonite Mission Board. On February 9, 1919 the Mission Board purchased land south of Kouts for the construction of a church building which was dedicated on September 28 of that year. Jacob K. Bixler, Overseeing Bishop and Moderator of Indiana Michigan Mennonite Conference preached the dedicatory sermon.

Hopewell was granted independence from the Mission Board in June, 1923 and became a full member of the Indiana Michigan Mennonite Conference. During this period of time the young people organized a literary which became very active, participating in activities which included singing for shut-ins and the elderly, enjoying various games, ice skating on the old Kankakee River bed, and meeting with other literaries.

A small mission was started at English Lake, Indiana in 1949 with Summer Bible School and Sunday School services first held in a rented schoolhouse. Eventually, a new church was built and the English Lake congregation became independent in 1972. A number of members from Hopewell that lived in the Valparaiso area also began a new congregation in 1966, and the church became independent from Hopewell in 1969 (Valparaiso Mennonite Church).

n 1952, Hopewell built a new church building on the north edge of Kouts where it is located today.

From 1952 to August 16, 1954 the congregation was without a resident pastor so much of the preaching was done by Bishop Paul Mininger of Goshen, assisted by some lay leadership. Samuel S. Miller was called by the congregation to become pastor.

The congregation built a parsonage for the Miller family, which was since sold in 1994.

Additions to the present building have included a fellowship hall complete with a foyer, kitchen, and additional restroom facilities added in 1977.

In 1994 additions were added to both sides of the sanctuary and presently contain nursery facilities, a library, pastor's office and classrooms. At this time the sanctuary was reversed, and the balcony removed.

In 2014 the fellowship hall was renovated to include handicap accessible restrooms.