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During the late 1880s Mennonite Brethren (MB) families from Nebraska and Elbing, Kansas, homesteaded near Kirk and what would later become Joes in present-day Yuma County, Colorado.The fledgling congregation, known as Kirk Mennonite Brethren Church until 1922 when it took the name Joes, dedicated a new church structure in 1894 under the pastoral leadership of David Dyck.Other early Colorado MB congregations were established at Pueblo, Loveland, Johnstown, Keensburg, Denver, and Brighton, but all were small and were closed by 1950.Agricultural opportunities attracted General Conference Mennonites (GCM) from South Dakota to Colorado’s Eastern Plains beginning ca. Although a Sunday school was established at Shelton, some 6-7 miles north-northwest of La Junta, in 1910, the only early Eastern Colorado settlement to have a congregation that would join the GCM’s Western District Conference was the New Friedensberg Mennonite Church in Kit Carson County, nine miles southeast of Vona. By 1954, the congregation’s membership had dwindled to 20, and the congregation stopped meeting together on several occasions during subsequent years, although it was represented regularly at the annual meetings of the Western District until 1969.The Sanitarium Board established what came to be known as the La Junta Mennonite School of Nursing in 1914, and some 450 graduates received degrees from the school’s registered nurses’ program between 19.Thereafter, a Practical Nursing Program was commenced which continued until 1973.Erb played a significant role in the expansion of Mennonite hospital work in Colorado.During the 1950s-1970s the Mennonite Board of Missions negotiated contracts to administer acute care hospitals in five other cities/towns in Colorado -- Rocky Ford, Glenwood Springs, Aspen, La Jara, and Walsenburg.

The wide arid eastern plains of the state were adapted for stock raising and the production of grain and feed crops.In 1914 a small group of Mennonite farmers who had left the Amish established a settlement at Limon. Colorado’s arid climate was a significant factor in attracting health seekers, including Mennonites, to the state.In June 1896 the Christian Rich family moved from Cambridge, Nebraska, to the East Holbrook Valley to farm. Following the Trudeau experiment in tuberculosis treatment, many sanatoria were established in the state. As a result in 1908 Mennonite Church leaders opened a Mennonite Sanitarium in Swink, some five miles west of La Junta.The hospitals brought many Mennonites to Colorado, many of whom became permanent residents and formed the nucleus of new Mennonite Churches.Through these activities the Colorado Mennonite program was publicized throughout the Mennonite Church, and the work served to strengthen the Mennonite Church program throughout the state.

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