Church History

About Cornerstone Mennonite Fellowship

In the fall of 1997, a group of families interested in doctrinal stability, evangelism and focused worship, began discussing the possibility of starting a church in the Ephrata area. Meetings were first held on Sunday evenings in Ephrata Mennonite School gym. Our first Sunday morning service was on March 1, 1998, at the Lincoln Fire Hall. The congregation chose the name Cornerstone Mennonite Fellowship on March 15, 1998.

Several months later, Ephrata Mennonite Church built a larger church after outgrowing their facilities. As we contemplated buying the Oak Street property, we clearly saw God’s hand of direction. With the help of an anonymous donor, we were able to purchase the sturdy brick building. Our first service was held there on October 18, 1998. In October of 2002, the adjoining property on Fulton Street was purchased. It has a large house made into several apartments, (partially used by Love INC ministry) and a garage that provides storage space.

Clair Martin was affirmed by the congregation as pastor on July 8, 1998. Charter Day was held on August 23, 1998, with 68 signing members and 24 families represented. As our congregation grew, additional leadership was needed. Nelson Gehman was called as pastor on May 23, 1999; Jay Laughman as deacon on December 12, 1999; Dave Martin as deacon on April 6, 2003; Jim Musser as deacon on December 7, 2008, and Crit Lapp as pastor on February 28, 2010.

In 2016, Nelson Gehman was affirmed by the congregation as lead pastor, and Crit Lapp was asked to serve as administrator at the Elnora Bible Institute in Elnora Indiana. Crit and his family moved to Indiana in the summer of 2017. This left a vacancy in pastoral leadership, so in the Spring of 2017, a replacement pastor was called. On April 9, 2017 Andy Rutt was licensed as associate pastor at Cornerstone and was ordained in 2018.

In the Spring of 2020, plans were made to replace Clair Martin as associate minister. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in 2020, the calling of another minister was postponed until the Fall of 2020. On October 4, 2020, Mike Smucker was chosen by lot and licensed to serve as associate pastor at Cornerstone. Clair Martin continues serving as a semi-retired associate pastor.

In the early years, our church was not part of a conference. During this time, Nelson Bowman served our congregation as overseer giving guidance to our congregation and the ministry team. In August 2005, Cornerstone became a member of the Biblical Mennonite Alliance. This group of conservative Anabaptist Mennonite churches, from many states, strive to promote obedience to Jesus Christ and all His teachings. It also provides a network of support for our leaders. Ernie Mummau served as our BMA regional overseer for 3 years, then in August 2008 Jay Laughman began serving in this position, and continues this role. Our current membership is 203, with approximately 80 families represented.

Our desire is that our congregation would be a blessing to those around us and that we will be faithful followers of the Lord.

Our Beliefs