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Le Roy Bechler African-American Mennonite Collection


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Research Files

James and Rowena Lark Materials

Contact us about this collection

Le Roy Bechler African-American Mennonite Collection, 1947-2007 | Mennonite Church USA Archives

By Colleen McFarland

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Collection Overview

Title: Le Roy Bechler African-American Mennonite Collection, 1947-2007Add to your cart.

ID: HM1/723

Primary Creator: Bechler, Le Roy (1925-)

Other Creators: Lark, James Henry (1889-1978)

Extent: 3.2 Linear Feet. More info below.

Arrangement: By Series

Date Acquired: 10/05/1984. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: African American churches, African American Mennonites, Lark, James Henry, 1888-1978, Lark, Rowena, d. 1970, Oral history

Forms of Material: Audiocassettes, Photographs, Slides (photographs)

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection is divided into two series:  (1) Research Files, 1950-1982, and (2) James and Rowena Lark Materials, 1949-2007.

Biographical Note

Born in 1925, Le Roy Bechler spent his childhood in Pigeon, Michigan.  He worked on a Bloomfield Hills, Michigan dairy farm from 1943 to 1945.  He then attended Hesston College, earning both an A.A. and a B.R.E. degree.  While in school, he participated in four summers of voluntary service with the Mennonite Board of Missions:  Bethel Mennonite Church (Chicago, 1947), Camp Ebenezer (Holmes County, Ohio, 1948), and Saginaw, Michigan (1949-1950).  In the summer of 1950, he married Irene Marie Springer.

Bechler then formally embarked on a long career of church planting and pastoring in African American communities.  From 1950 to 1960, he served as church planter and pastor to the Ninth Street Mennonite Church in Saganaw, Michigan.  During that time, his three children were born.  Bechler then served as the pastor of Calvary Mennonite Church  in Los Angeles, California for 19 years.  While in those positions, Bechler served on the Urban (Negro) Evangelism Committee, the Black Council of the Mennonite Church, established Calvary Christian School (in 1969), and earned an M.A. in Missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

From 1980 to 1984, Bechler was a member of the Mennonite Board of Missions Evangelism and Church Growth Resource Team and wrote a book entitled "The Black Mennonite Church in North America, 1886-1986."  He served as Home Missions Secretary and Director of Pastoral Counseling Continuing Education in the Southeast Mennonite Conference from 1984 to 1994.  He worked as a conference overseer for the Southeast Mennonite Conference for six more years.  In 2000, he moved to Goshen, Indiana, serving as an overseer for the Indiana-Michigan Conference for several years.

Subject/Index Terms

African American churches
African American Mennonites
Lark, James Henry, 1888-1978
Lark, Rowena, d. 1970
Oral history

Administrative Information

Repository: Mennonite Church USA Archives


Oral history interviews donated 12/20/2006 (Acc. 7261)

Additional materials on Negro Evangelism and James Lark donated 7/29/2004 and 9/19/2007 (Acc. 7308)

Alternate Extent Statement: 1 records carton, 1 archives box, 1 half archives box, 1 oversize folder

Access Restrictions:

Letter from Nelson Kauffman to Le Roy Bechler, September 10, 1956, restricted indefinitely.

All other materials are open to public research.

Use Restrictions: Researchers are responsible for using in accordance with 17 U.S.C. Copyright not owned by the Mennonite Church USA Archives.

Acquisition Source: Le Roy Bechler, Acc. 4348

Related Materials: HM1-971:  Le Roy Bechler Correspondence

Preferred Citation: Le Roy Bechler African American Mennonite Collection, 1947-2007.  HM1-723.  Mennonite Church USA Archives. Elkhart, Indiana.

Other Note: At one time, selected photographs were separated and designated the Le Roy Bechler Photographs, HM4-367.  In 2010, these photographs were reunited with this collection, HM1-723.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Research Files, 1950-1982],
[Series 2: James and Rowena Lark Materials, 1947-2007],

Series 2: James and Rowena Lark Materials, 1947-2007Add to your cart.
Materials collected by Bechler about James and Rowena Lark.  Most important are the oral histories conducted by Bechler with James Lark, as well as audiotapes of James Lark's funeral and  memorial services.  Also includes a small amount of correspondence from James Lark to Le Roy Bechler, and a folder of James Lark's sermon material.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Tape 1: April 11, 1976 (Sunday).  “Conversations with Bro. Lark.", 1976Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Background Information and Notes, circa 1976Add to your cart.
Tape 2: Between April 11-16, 1976.  “Details about his family, early background to the 7th grade in Washington D.C.”, 1976Add to your cart.
Tape 3: April 13 and 14, 1976.  “Family life, etc.”, 1976Add to your cart.
Tape 4: April 14, 1976. [Audio content of tape unrecoverable at this time], 1976Add to your cart.
Tape 5: April 14, 1976. “Conversation with Brother Lark.”, 1976Add to your cart.
Tape 6: April 14, 1976.  “Brother Lark coming into the Mennonite Church.”, 1976Add to your cart.
Tape 7: April 15, 1976.  “Conversation between Brother Lark, Brother Cash, and myself ...", 1976Add to your cart.
Tape 8: January 17, 1978.  Funeral service for James A. Lark, Fresno, California, 1978Add to your cart.
Tape 9: January 17, 1978.  Funeral service for James A. Lark, Fresno, CaliforniaAdd to your cart.
Tape 10: Memorial service for James. A. Lark, 1978?Add to your cart.
Tape 11: Le Roy Bechler on James Lark [?], undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: Transcriptions of Interviews with James Lark, 2007-2008Add to your cart.
Box 3Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Bethel Mennonite Community Digital Photographs 1944-1962, 2007Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Marriage Registers, 1952-1965Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Negro Spiritual Songs, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: Lesson Materials and Bible Verses, 1962Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Sunday School Classes, 1964-1965Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Newspaper Clipping - Black Population, 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Clippings about Allensworth, CA, 1976-1991Add to your cart.
Folder 14: "Larks: On the Go for God," Play by Pauline Lehman, 1980Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Lark Chronology, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Correspondence from James Lark to Le Roy Bechler, 1949-1973Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Lark Writing Project, 1978-1992Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Notes on Lark, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: Miscellaneous Lark Materials, 1953-1973Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Lark Photographs, 1947-1975Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Calvary Mennonite Church Photographs, 1960-1975Add to your cart.
Folder 22: Camp Ebenezer Documents and Photographs, 1947-1948Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Lark Memorial Materials and Photographs, 1970-2007Add to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Research Files, 1950-1982],
[Series 2: James and Rowena Lark Materials, 1947-2007],

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