In 1908, several families immigrated to the prairie lands south of Meade, Kansas. These settlers, with a Mennonite background, came from Henderson and Jansen, Nebraska and Inman, Kansas, and brought their religion with them. Almost immediately they organized the Union Sunday
School, which met in the Pleasant Hill schoolhouse a few hundred yards northwest of the present location of Countryside Bible Church. Visiting preachers were invited to speak as often as possible.
Since some of the area families had come from churches in the Conference of United Mennonite Brethren of North America, now FEBC, so they naturally asked for help from that conference to organize a church. On June 10, 1910, Elder H.E. Fast from Mt. Lake, Minnesota and Rev. Peter J. Fast from Jansen, Nebraska came to Meade and helped the Sunday School group organize into the Bruderthal Church. The twenty-one charter members immediately voted to join the conference.
By fall the new church had elected two unordained ministers: A.M. Doerksen and Peter F. Friesen. Mr. Doerksen was subsequently ordained in 1914. When the Peter F. Friesen family moved to Oregon in 1918, Rev. G.T. Thiessen came as pastor. After serving two years, the Thiessens sensed God’s call to go to China as missionaries. They became the first missionaries sent out by the church.
The next pastor, Rev. H.R. Harms, arrived in 1920 and ministered until 1943. During this period many changes took place. A building on the present church site was erected in 1921. In 1922, the Nebo Church, a General Conference church only a mile and half west, offered to merge with the Bruderthal Church to form the “Bruderthal-Nebo Church”, but at that time the Bruderthal Church declined the offer. However, by 1930 changes had occurred in both churches, so a merger was again discussed. This time it was accomplished. Even the dead were merged as the Nebo cemetery graves were moved to the Bruderthal cemetery!
Among the Nebo folks who merged with the Bruderthal congregation was Agnes W. Harder who became the second missionary to go out from Meade. Agnes left for Nigeria in 1938 under SIM.
In 1932 sixteen young people asked for baptism. At that time, a candidate normally was baptized while kneeling in a pond as a pastor poured a handful of water over his head. This time one candidate asked to be baptized by “backward immersion”. This unorthodox request generated serious contention within the church. Finally, however, his request was granted. In a short time backward immersion became the accepted mode of baptism.
Records show that by 1935, the 25th anniversary, the church had 145 resident and 15 non-resident members. During those 25 years, 118 people had been baptized and joined the church, 31 marriages had been performed, and 16 members had passed away.
In 1936, the church decided to extend the building 26 feet to the east and add a full basement. This also completed the Nebo merger, since the Nebo building was dismantled and used to build the addition.
The next year, the conference decided at the annual convention to change the name to Evangelical Mennonite Brethren. The Bruderthal Church likewise changed its name in the fall of 1937 to Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church.
The church began a school in the church basement and that eventually expanded into what became known as the Meade Bible Academy. The Meade Bible Academy continued to grow for many years, producing many Christian laymen and workers who are now scattered throughout the world. However, changing farm patterns and declining population in the area forced the academy to close in 1966. Only one building, the gym and administration facility, remains on site.
The Countryside Bible Church built a large brick structure in 1952. This is still being used by the congregation. Membership peaked at 253 members in 1961. Most of the young people left the community after high school and very few of them returned to work in Meade. As a result, the membership has steadily declined until the early 1990’s.
In the 1990’s, the church began to grow due to a renewed emphasis on the bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the surrounding community. Membership has steadily increased and we give God all of the glory for that. Almost a fifth of the people who have ever been baptized or joined the church in its near one hundred year history have done so in the past decade. To God be the Glory! We pray that God will continue to use us as He sees fit for the next 100 years as well!
As a result of the growth, the church found a need for additional space and facilities. In 1994, Countryside Bible Church added a wing onto the main building to provide additional bathrooms, an expanded library, handicapped accessibility and some new Sunday school space. Then in 2008, a new Fellowship hall was completed adding more Sunday school space, a new kitchen and a combination fellowship hall and gym. Additionally, on May 3, 2009, the church body voted to change the name of the church to Countryside Bible Church.
Missions have always been an vital part of Countryside Bible Church. Many church members and attendees have visited mission fields and many have been involved in short-term mission projects, which have taken place on almost every continent. Quite a few have gone into full time missions over the years.
It is not possible to fully measure the work done for the Lord in past years through Countryside Bible Church. Even a partial list of accomplishments would include six churches begun in Japan; two translations of the Bible for tribal groups; many believers in the Arab world; production of Christian Education materials in three languages of India; printing of Christian literature for Brazil; training and sending of pastors and missionaries; and establishment of a strong national church in Kenya.
What has been accomplished so far through Countryside Bible Church has only been possible because of the great God we serve. Anything that is of value was done by Him. Soli Deo Gloria.
PASTORS OF THE
COUNTRYSIDE BIBLE CHURCH
A.M. Doerksen 1910-1920
Peter F. Friesen 1910-1918
G.T. Thiessen 1918-1920
Henry R. Harms 1920-1943
D.J. Ediger 1922-1923
J.J. Gerbrandt 1936-1942
Orlando Wiebe 1942-1949
J.N. Wall 1949-1950
H.P. Wiebe 1950-1954
Alvin Kleinsasser 1955-1956
Arnold Wall 1956-1959
H.P. Fast 1960-1961
J.N. Hiebert 1962-1968
Lloyd Ensz 1969-1973
John Jackson 1974-1979
Frank Wiens 1979 Interim
Chryston Harms 1980-1986
Paul Boeker 1986-1999
LaVern Smith 1999-2000 Interim
David Cummings 2000-2012
Chuck Finster 2011-
MISSIONARIES OF THE
COUNTRYSIDE BIBLE CHURCH
Mr. & Mrs. G.T. Thiessen, China (deceased)
Mr. & Mrs. Allan Wiebe, Congo [Zaire]
Mr. & Mrs. Wilfred Thiessen, Mexico
Miss Wanda Ediger, Alaska (deceased)
Henry & Martha Baerg, Japan, SEND (deceased)
Ann Classen, Japan, SEND (deceased)
Ruby Enns, India, International Mission
Gerhard & Ruby Fast, Peru, Wycliffe (deceased)
Agnes Harder, Nigeria, SIM, (deceased)
LaVern & Marlene Smith, West Indies, MIA
Ken & Kay Harder, Kenya, AIM
Viola Friesen (Warkentin), Dallas, TX, Wycliffe
Pete & Wilma Friesen, Owasso, OK, Avant
Joe & Denise Goossen, Kyrgyzstan, Avant
Ken & Karen Toews, South Dakota, AMF
Jeremy & Rebecca Fruchting, Ethiopia, SIM