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East Chilliwack Mennonite Brethren Church (1945-1954), ca. 1950
Creator: Henry J. Wiens (1885-1975)
Digitized by Hiebert Library. Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies
East Chilliwack MB Church (1954-1980)
Central Community Church (1981-present), 2011
Source: D. Giesbrecht

Mennonite Brethren in the East Chilliwack area began holding Bible studies in 1940. Their relatively small numbers began to increase in 1943 as Mennonites from Manitoba and Saskatchewan began to settle in the area. Fifteen families began renting a hall in 1944 and shortly thereafter began construction on their own building, thanks in part to a donation of one acre of farmland on Chilliwack Central Road. The church formally organized on 6 January 1945 as the East Chilliwack Mennonite Brethren Church with 82 charter members. The first building was dedicated on 25 February 1945. Early leaders in the congregation were N. A. Rempel, Jacob I. Bergen, and Heinrich A. Kroeker.

In 1947, new classrooms were added and the front entrance was expanded. However, the population of Mennonite Brethren in East Chilliwack continued to increase rapidly, and in 1947, 60 families living close to the city of Chilliwack formed the Chilliwack (later Broadway) Mennonite Brethren Church. Nevertheless, membership continued to increase due to the continued relocation of Mennonite families from the Canadian prairie provinces to British Columbia, and a new building seemed necessary and imminent. Construction on a new sanctuary able to accommodate 400 people began in 1953 and was completed in 1954. The former sanctuary was renovated in order to accommodate the East Chilliwack Mennonite Brethren Bible School, previously located down the road in a converted feed store, and to be used for Sunday School. Gerhard Thielmann, hired to teach at the Bible school, became the leading minister in the congregation and served throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

East Chilliwack's first paid pastor, Ben Heppner, began his ministry in 1970. Attendance gradually declined in the 1970s. A number of older members had joined Broadway Mennonite Brethren Church in the early 1970s, desiring to continue worshiping in the German language. By 1980, many families had moved to the city, so East Chilliwack MB Church sold their building to a Canadian Reformed congregation and relocated to the city as well. Their new building was completed for use by February 1981, at which time the congregation changed its name to Chilliwack Central Mennonite Brethren Church. In 2003 the name was changed to Central Community Church.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s membership fluctuated due to occasional tensions in the congregation. However, significant attempts to reach out to the community resulted in steady growth through the first decade of the 21st century. In 2010 the congregation's membership was 340 with an average attendance of 600.

In 2013 two home groups that lacked a local church in Agassiz following the closure of their church, Mountain View Presbyterian Church, approached Central Community Church about forming a partnership. As a result, Central formally launched a second campus in Agassiz on 19 January 2014. Eldon Fehr was appointed to oversee Agassiz congregational needs. Services are held in the Agassiz Agricultural Hall.

[edit] Bibliography

Canadian Mennonite (24 November 1961): 8.

McMaster, Barrie. "Central Church Crosses the Bridge." Mennonite Brethren Herald. 8 February 2014. Web. 2 March 2014. http://mbherald.com/central-church-crosses-the-bridge/.

Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies. "Central Community Church." Web. 3 June 2006. http://www.mbconf.ca/mbstudies/holdings/bc/central.en.html.

Mennonite Brethren Herald (27 May 1988): 26.

Archival Records

Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Winnipeg, MB: Volume 361, Reel 64.

[edit] Additional Information

Address: 46100 Chilliwack Central Road, Chilliwack, BC V2P 1J6

Chilliwack Campus: 46100 Chilliwack Central Road, Chilliwack, BC

Agassiz Campus: 6800 Pioneer Avenue, Agassiz, BC

Phone: 604-792-8037

Website: Central Community Church

Denominational Affiliations:

British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (1945-present)

Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (1945-present)

General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (1945-2002)

Central Community Church Pastors

Minister Years
Nicolai A. Rempel 1945-1946
Jacob I. Bergen 1946-1947
Nicolai A. Rempel 1947-1948
Heinrich A. Kroeker 1948-1950
Gerhard Thielmann 1950-1969
Bernard P. Epp (interim) 1969-1970
Ben L. Heppner 1970-1975
Edward P. Hamm 1975-1982
Henry C. Born 1982-1985
Keith Wiggin 1986-1993
Reg Toews 1994-1996
David Macfarlane 1997-2000
Adam Wiggins 2000-2005
Ron van Akker 2006-2014

Central Community Church Membership

Year Members
1945 125
1950 237
1955 243
1960 227
1965 210
1970 170
1975 164
1980 180
1985 179
1990 176
1996 222
2000 171
2004 262
2010 340

[edit] Maps

Map:Central Community Church, Chilliwack, British Columbia


Author(s) Richard D Thiessen
Date Published August 2011


[edit] Cite This Article

MLA style

Thiessen, Richard D. "Central Community Church (Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. August 2011. Web. 31 Oct 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Central_Community_Church_(Chilliwack,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=116324.

APA style

Thiessen, Richard D. (August 2011). Central Community Church (Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 31 October 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Central_Community_Church_(Chilliwack,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=116324.




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