The origin of Eden Mennonite Church goes back to the Russian province of Volhynia where Mennonite families resided as a congregational unity during the 1800’s. Of Swiss origin, this group of Anabaptists had to flee their homes because of persecution and had made their homes in the Alsace, southern Germany and Poland before finally putting down their roots in the Ukraine of Russia. Loss of privileges in language, education and military exemption again prompted them to search for a new homeland. In 1874 plans were made to migrate to America.
Seventy-three families, consisting of almost the entire congregation from the village of Kotosufka, left Russia on August 6, 1874 under the leadership of Elder Jacob Stucky and Minister Jacob D. Goering. At Liverpool, England they embarked on the SS City of Richmond and arrived in New York on September 3, 1874. Fourteen families went to South Dakota where their relatives had settled earlier, fifty-three families, came by rail to Peabody, Kansas, and 6 families went to Illinois where they worked off their passage fees. Once the debt was paid they also settled in the Moundridge area. Traveling overland, their final destination was the immigrant house provided by the Santa Fe Railroad located three and one-half miles west and one-half mile north of present-day Moundridge. While some families began to build their farmsteads immediately, others chose to spend the first winter living in the immigrant house, which also served as a worship center and school. In 1882 the Hoffnungsfeld (Hopefield) Congregation erected a church near the immigrant house. This building is now the oldest Mennonite church still in continuous use in Kansas. In 1895 differences within the group led to the formation of a second congregation known as Hoffnungsfeld-Eden. For several years the two groups worshiped in the same building on alternate Sundays, but in June, 1898 this new congregation dedicated its own worship center located one-half mile west of the original church building.
As the need for larger facilities became apparent, the congregation made another move to a new building at the present site, four miles west and two miles north of Moundridge. This dedication service was held on September 14, 1924, fifty years after the arrival of the first immigrants from Europe. At this time the congregational name was changed to Eden Mennonite Church. This building was enlarged and remodeled in 1949 and underwent subsequent changes to accommodate the physical needs of the congregates.
On January 25, 1988 the Eden church building was totally destroyed by fire. Later the congregation voted to rebuild at the same location and ground-breaking took place on August 21, 1988. During the two intervening years worship services were held at Moundridge High School. Dedication of the new meeting-house was held March 25, 1990.
In 1995, the centennial of the founding of Eden, a year-long celebration was held to commemorate the hundred-year history of the congregation. Monthly programs featuring musical groups, historical events and other presentations such as an original historical drama, were followed by a homecoming week-end celebrating the centennial theme, “To the Glory of God!” During its one hundred-year history the Eden Mennonite Church has moved from its very ethnic tradition to a congregation that is enriched by diversity, both in membership and leadership. However it is still centered on its mission – to proclaim and live the teachings of Jesus – and to share its rich traditions and Christian heritage.
In April of 2004 the Eden Peace Committee, along with the Eden Historical Committee sponsored the printing of a book entitled The Eden Peace Witness: A Collection of Personal Accounts. The book is a compilation of 49 stories told by church members recounting how they responded to the call to service in the armed forces of the United States. The stories are presented in the actual words of the men who shared them. Beginning with the men who were drafted to service in the first World War, and following through the Vietnam years, the stories share interesting personal perspectives to the events of the periods involved. The accounts of the suffering endured by some of the men are an inspiring testimony to their depth of conviction and commitment to the peace teachings of the church. The stories in the book were collected by personal interviews, from records of interviews on file at the Mennonite Library and Archives at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas, and from written submissions from the storytellers. The compilation was done by Jeff Koller of the Eden congregation. Koller also wrote the introduction to the book, as well as a historical perspective to “set the stage” for each era of service. The books are available at the office of the Eden Mennonite Church in Moundridge as well as Faith and Life Bookstore and Peace Connections in Newton.