Sugar Creek Mennonite Church is a member congregation of Central Plains Mennonite Conference. Central Plains Mennonite Conference is a vibrant area conference of Mennonite Church USA made up of 46 diverse congregations spanning 8 states (Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) and more than 1,000 miles from corner to corner.
Sugar Creek Mennonite Church is a member congregation of Mennonite Church USA. Members of Mennonite Church USA share a Mennonite of Anabaptist perspective on matters of faith. It's how we understand our commitment to following the way of Jesus Christ.
In 1855 Bishop Joseph Goldsmith moved near Trenton, Iowa and organized a church in homes, later to be known as Sugar Creek Mennonite Church. AS this congregation grew, there was interest in establishing two churches in the Henry and Washington County area. Two separate organizations were formed with Bishop Goldsmith at the head of both. Joseph Von Gunden and Peter Tschantz served as ministers for the Henry County church, and Joseph Wittrig and Christian Bechler served as ministers for the Washington County church. Disagreements became more marked. Even though each congregation was probably evenly divided between progressive and conservative members, a break between the Washington County and Henry County churches did finally occur in 1874.
In 1871 the first church building was built two miles southeast of the town of Marshall, now Wayland, near Sugar Creek. Sebastian Gerig (minister, later bishop) had suggested among his family and friends that Sugar Creek would be a good name for the church since the church building was located near a creek by that name. He brought the matter to the church and it was adopted. In 1872, one year after the church was built, the congregation organized its first Sunday School.
During, World War I the church had a severe trial because of its non-resistant stand. During World War II the local community was more tolerant of the non-resistant stand than it had been during World War I. Twenty-one young men in the church served in Civilian Public Service camps and units across the United States.
In 1949, the congregation was asked to give prayerful thought to the important work of additional help in the ministry. In December a vote was to be taken to ordain either Vernon Gerig or Vernon E. Roth. As the Sugar Creek Church was considering building another church north of Wayland due to lack of space, it was suggested to ordain both men. In the evening meeting on December 18, 1949 both men were ordained for ministry.
In 1950 the new congregation, Bethel Mennonite Church, was established and the four ordained ministers began a “round-robin” preaching schedule. Vernon Gerig was ordained to the office of bishop in 1953 which led to a new preaching plan. Vernon Roth served only at Bethel, Willard Leichty served only at Sugar Creek and Vernon Gerig and Simon Gingerich alternated. This stayed in effect until 1958 when Vernon Roth became the logical choice to serve as pastor of the newly formed Eureka congregation (later called Washington Mennonite Church), and Bethel called Willard Leichty to serve as pastor. After many transitions, Vernon Gerig became the single minister for Sugar Creek Mennonite Church.
Joseph Goldsmith 1852-1876
Joseph Wittrig 1856-1862
Christian Bechler 1860-1874
Peter Tschantz 1860-1885
John von Gunden 1861-1887
Joseph K. Roth 1863-1882
Joseph Schlegel 1867-1879
Sebastian Gerig 1869-1924
Stephen T. Miller 1879-1893
Martin Eicher 1882-1884
Christian R. Gerig 1887-1904
Daniel Graber 1893-1930
John Wagler 1904-1920
Simon Gingerich 1908-1957
Chris L. Graber 1922-1924
Ellis Zook 1928-1933
Willard Leichty 1935-1958
Vernon Gerig 1949-1971
Vernon Roth 1949-1958
Robert Hartzler 1962-1969
Orie L. Roth 1971-1980
Carl Smeltzer (Interim) 1979
Edmond Miller 1980-1988
Murray Krabill (Interim) 1988-1989
Dean Swartzendruber 1989-1993
Ruben Chupp 1990-2000
Roger Farmer 1993-2002
Sharon Wyse Miller (Interim) 2002-2003
Robert Hartzler (Interim) 2003-2004
Nathan Luitjens 2004-
Rachelle Luitjens 2014-
Pastor Nathan Luitjens is a teacher of God's Word. He is dedicated to serving the ministry, his congregation, and the community.
Nathan finished his undergraduate degree at Canadian Bible College and received his Master of Arts from Regent College. He began serving as Pastor of Sugar Creek Mennonite Church in May of 2004 and continues to serve. Nathan works with the Worship Committee to plan Sunday morning worship events. He alternates preaching each month with his wife, Pastor Rachelle. When Nathan is not preaching, he leads in singing on Sunday mornings. You may also see him around the community conducting visitation or serving in administration work.
Nathan grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada. He is married to his co-pastor, Rachelle Luitjens who also serves at Sugar Creek Mennonite Church. They share 3 sons, Mattias, Keiran and Tristan and two dogs, Daisy and Mittens. Nathan enjoys reading, watching live sports (particularly hockey and soccer) and coaching youth sports (hockey and soccer). He also enjoys hiking and being outdoors, most particularly in the mountains. He dislikes snakes but one of the things Nathan likes to do for fun is find cheap airline tickets!
If you would like to contact Nathan you may reach him by e-mail at, firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting the church.
Rachelle Luitjens is a Christian Educator and a Pastoral Counselor, who leads the way for God’s reconciling mission of the world through her dedication to teaching the scriptures.
Rachelle received her Bachelor of Religious Education from Canadian Bible College/Ambrose University (Calgary, AB). She continued her education by completing her Master of Divinity: Pastoral Care and Counseling from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Elkhart, IN).
Rachelle began attending Sugar Creek Mennonite Church in 2004 and joined the staff as pastor in December 2014 where she continues to currently serve. Rachelle oversees the Sunday school organization for 2 year olds through to adults. She also serves the MYF (Mennonite Youth Fellowship), organizing and leading Bible studies and supporting the youth sponsors, as well as leading adult Bible studies. You may also find her visiting with the community, conducting pastoral care and preaching on alternating Sundays with her husband, Pastor Nathan.
Rachelle grew up in North Vancouver, British Columbia. She is married to Nathan Luitjens who also serves as Pastor at Sugar Creek Mennonite Church. They share 3 sons, Mattias, Keiran and Tristan and two dogs, Daisy and Mittens. Rachelle enjoys coffee, reading, watching hockey, listening to podcasts, baking and being outside in the forest, on mountains or by the ocean. Some things that she dislikes are sausage, really hot weather and sunburns.
If you would like to contact Rachelle you may reach her by e-mail at, email@example.com or by contacting the church.