In September 1949, Lillian Zook Yoder (above) spent each Sunday teaching the first and second graders of fledgling Sunnyside Mennonite Church in Dunlap, Ind. Her future husband, Sam, drove the college bus through the neighborhood to bring in the flock. More than 30 GC students participated regularly that year in church leadership, Sunday School instruction, visitation and weekday “club” activities for children.
Also following the call of the Young People’s Christian Association’s (YPCA) motto “to make Christ known,” a similar number traveled weekly to the slightly older Locust Grove congregation southwest of Elkhart. Smaller groups worked at the Wawasee Lakeside Chapel and on Plymouth St. in Goshen, and plans were being made for a new outreach in South Bend. Earlier YPCA activity had already produced independent congregations at North Goshen and East Goshen. As early as 1910, GC students had held evening meetings in Waterford homes.
Sunnyside was typical of the YPCA Extension Committee’s systematic undertakings and outreach throughout the 1940s. Prompted by YPCA sponsor Paul Mininger, students undertook several surveys and learned that around a third of the 114 families in the area might have interest in a Sunday School. A team of students began visiting in area homes regularly over several months while trying to find an appropriate meeting place. The aging pastor of one independent congregation in the neighborhood was not quite ready to release his little building for use by the students. So the YPCA instead negotiated an interest-free loan from the Mission Board to cover the costs (just over $5,000) to build a 26×46 ft. cement block building.
The 1965 Palm Sunday tornadoes obliterated the original building (and much of the surrounding neighborhood), but Sunnyside, like several other area congregations started by Goshen’s YPCA, continues to this day.
– Joe Springer
Curator, Mennonite Historical Library