spring city, pa 19475
The original church building of Vincent Mennonite was located near Spring City, Chester County, in East Vincent Township on what is now known as Rout 724 and Mennonite Church Road. It was probably erected before the first deed was issued in 1798, as Frederick Sheeder, in his History of Vincent Township, written in 1845, mentioned a "meeting house" by the name of "Rhoad's" built in 1750 by the old Germans.
The Rhoads Meeting House was a modest, one-floor structure with a small side ante-room for the women and children to use. Men sat on the left and women on the right. As was the custom, men and women entered the building through separate doors. The stone walls were approximately 18 inches thick, there was no lighting, no heat, no water, and no indoor toilets. The Meetinghouse was to be used as a place of worship and also as a school for the education of the youth.
February 1, 1969 the decision to build a new church was discussed at the annual business meeting. A building committee was appointed in October of 1971, and a construction contract was signed May 2, 1973. In April of 1974 the new building was ready for occupancy.
Ordained leaders in the church were generally chosen by lot, based on the scripture found in Proverbs 16:33, "The lot is cast into to the lap, but the whole disposing therof is of the Lord." The lot system is no longer in use to determine leaders of Vincent Mennonite Church.
Vincent was progressive in church related activities. The first Sunday school was organized in 1870. The first Bible Conference was held in August 1910. Footwashing was emphasized and, later that year, Vincent continued the observance of footwashing, first as a separate preparatory service on Saturday. Counsel meetings were held a week prior to communion to ensure all members were prepared, or "fit", to take communion.
Vincent was also early to adopt the English language in their worship service. The first English speaking preacher, David Buckwalter, was ordained in 1854 at the age of 45. He often began his message with the phrase, "Fellow travelers to a long and endless eternity." Summer Bible school was started in 1947 with 179 students attending. In 1948, an adult class of 15 members was added, bringing the total attendance to 228.
Since 1948, Vincent has had a women's sewing circle, which is now known as the Women's Missionary Service Commission (WMSC). On December 9, 2009 WMSC celebrated their 900th consecutive monthly meeting.
Traditionally, four-part congregational singing without any musical accompaniment was used during worship services, over the years this has changed, and Vincent Mennonite now includes a variety of traditional hymns and contemporary praise and worship songs in their services.
Mission work has been a very important part of Vincent since the beginning of the 1900's. The first missionary board was created by Franconia Conference in 1917. Many of Vincent's members helped in the work of planting and serving in newly planted churches.
Collections, other than for Sunday school programs, were taken only at communion services until about 1900, at which time the deacon would put his hat on the pulpit and say, "Remember the poor." A monthly offering was started about 1920, until gradually, offering was regularly taken the first and third Sundays of the month. This continued until 1958 when offerings were received every Sunday. This eventually changed when in the 1990's a general fund budget was adopted and all regular offerings were designated to fund the budget.
In the Fall of 1950 the Vincent Mennonite school opened for its first year with the support of the Franconia Conference and numerous families
interested in providing an alternative to the public school system. In the first year all eight grades occupied the former Hickory Grove Schoolhouse. As enrollment increased, the school divided the students between Hickory Grove and the Crab Hill schoolhouses until, on September 28, 1953, a new school was built and ready for use by all grades on Stony Run Road. The school operated as a district of the Franconia Mennonite Christian Day School until it closed due to declining enrollment.
(Information taken from 275th Anniversary Celebration materials)