Virginia State Seal

Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Historical Highway Marker “Trissels Mennonite Church” to be Dedicated in Rockingham County

Trissels church building c.1850s, painted by Anna Mae Pellman.
Trissels church building c.1850s, painted by Anna Mae Pellman.

—Trissels is home to the oldest continuously functioning Mennonite congregation in Virginia—

The marker’s text is reproduced below

 A state historical marker issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that highlights Rockingham County’s Trissels Mennonite Church, home of the oldest continuously functioning Mennonite congregation in Virginia, will be dedicated this weekend during a public ceremony.

The brief ceremony begins at 2 p.m., Sunday, November 15, at the site of the marker, which is located on the west side of Route 42 (Harpine Hwy) where it intersects with Trissels Road. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held at Trissels Church, 11246 Hisers Lane, near Broadway. (The church is located about two miles west of the marker.)

Speakers during the ceremony will include John-Allen Ennis, chair of the Trissels church council; Pastor Harold Miller; Elwood Yoder, a history teacher at Eastern Mennonite High School who is authoring a history of the Trissels congregation; and Randall Jones of the Department of Historic Resources.

The original Trissels Church was constructed around 1823, adjacent to a cemetery with graves dating from the late 1700s. A second sanctuary replaced the first one in 1900, and in 1950 the current church opened, replacing the prior building.

Sermons at Trissels were delivered in German for several decades after the church’s founding.

The sponsors of the Trissels Mennonite Church marker covered its manufacturing costs. The Virginia Board of Historic Resources, which has the authority to designate new historical markers, approved the marker in December 2019.

In 1927, Virginia’s historical highway marker program erected the state’s first historical markers along U.S. Route 1. The program is considered the oldest such public roadside history initiative in the nation. Today there are more than 2,600 official state markers, most maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation and by local partners in jurisdictions outside of VDOT’s authority such as Lynchburg.

Text of marker:

NOTE: DHR issues markers not to “honor” their topics or subjects but rather to educate and inform the public about a person, place, or event of regional, state, or national importance. In this regard, markers are not honorific memorials.

Trissels Mennonite Church

Mennonites first entered the northern Shenandoah Valley about 1730 and settled in present-day Rockingham and Augusta Counties by the 1770s. They initially worshiped in private houses. The original Trissels Church (also known as Brush Church) was constructed ca. 1823 two miles southwest of here, adjacent to a cemetery with graves dating from the late 18th century. Trissels is the oldest continuously functioning Mennonite congregation in Virginia. Sermons were delivered in German for several decades. A second sanctuary replaced the first in 1900, and a third opened in 1950. The cemetery later expanded onto the sites of the two earlier churches.

Updated November 16, 2020