Press release by Prairie Street Mennonite Church, Elkhart, Indiana. June 2021

“The Life and Legacy of John F. Funk,” featuring the innovator whose blend of Anabaptist and evangelical theology influenced nineteenth-century Mennonites across North America, is now available online. Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart, Indiana, for which Funk was founding pastor in 1871, produced the film as part of the congregation’s 150th anniversary.

“Stories—even those hidden or untold—shape congregations in powerful ways,” says Professor John Roth of Goshen College. “This creative effort by Prairie Street Mennonite Church to recognize the legacy of Funk is a model for cultivating congregational memory. The story told is relevant and inspiring.”

Early collaboration with Dwight L. Moody in Chicago gave Funk an evangelical perspective, which he integrated with his Anabaptist roots. His early support of the antislavery Union cause in the American Civil War turned to disillusionment with military solutions, and he became a prominent voice of Mennonite peacemaking. 

Funk moved to Elkhart in 1867 and became the leading publisher among North American Mennonites, producing denominational magazines and theology books for decades. He promoted mission, advocated for mutual aid, and helped thousands of Russian Mennonite immigrants settle in the United States and Canada. His work was formative for what today are Menno Media, Mennonite Mission Network, Mennonite Central Committee, and Goshen College.

Find the new video, written and narrated by J. Nelson Kraybill, on YouTube or here:

Narrated by J. Nelson Kraybill for the 150th anniversary of Prairie Street Mennonite Church