The roots of the Harrow Mennonite Church go back to a 200 acre tract of land northwest of Harrow purchase by 12 families and 2 single Mennonite immigrants in the fall of 1928. The first families took possession in March 1929 and began to hold services in the original farm house living room. Gerhard Papke is considered the founding leader of the group.
Most of the Harrow Mennonites affiliated with the Leamington United Mennonite Church. This arrangement worked for some 20 years. In 1951 the Harrow group began construction of its own church on Walker Road just north of the town of Harrow. This new church was dedicated in November 1951. Inevitably ties with the Leamington Church were severed. The congregation applied for a charter in 1953 as the Harrow United Mennonite Church and in 1955 this was granted.
Herman Lepp Sr. served as the congregation’s minister from its beginning; in fact, he had acted as the local minister since coming to the area from Reesor in 1944. He was ordained an Elder in 1955, and continued in service as leader of the congregation until his death in 1966. He was followed by Herman Lepp Jr., who pastored the congregation until the spring of 1978.
Henry and Leonora Paetkau came to Harrow in the fall of 1978. Henry began as pastor, at first on a half time basis, then later as the church’s first full-time paid minister. During this time, Henry was much involved in the beginnings of the Windsor Mennonite Fellowship, an effort to establish a Mennonite church presence in Windsor. On 6 January 1985, Windsor Mennonite Fellowship began holding Sunday morning worship services. Henry served until the summer of 1985. These years in Harrow were blessed with fruitful outreach into the local community which broadened the membership base of the congregation and gave it new impetus.
In January 1980 the Harrow congregation took on an outreach project to sponsor six Vietnamese refugees. There were two young sisters along with a brother and three single males. It was quite a challenge for a small congregation to house, feed, and look after the needs of these new Canadians. After some time, they moved on and became self-sufficient.
Audrey Mierau came early in 1986. She was the first woman minister in the community, and one of the first in the Mennonite churches of Ontario; her warm and very caring leadership came during the time of the amalgamation of Ontario and Quebec, and the Western Mennonites of Ontario, to form a new conference now known as Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC). In the summer of 1988 Audrey married Ken Bechtel and moved to Toronto.
For a year, Calvin Laur served the congregation with an eloquent preaching ministry. Calvin brought an amazing level of learning and interests in art to the ministry. He and his wife Gail left the Harrow ministry in late fall of 1989.
Henry Dueck from Leamington served on Sunday mornings for a year while the church carried out a search for a new pastor. Jim Brown began as pastor in the fall of 1990. Jim had high conference visibility, being the assistant moderator of MCEC. For a small congregation, the Harrow Church has contributed leadership to the larger Mennonite community through Conference and broader Mennonite board and committee participation.
The original church building on Walker Road needed repair or replacement. But the congregation wondered if it could take on the costs of construction, so a series of fundraising efforts were undertaken. On 11 June 1995 the building planning committee completed its work and a building committee was elected. Many volunteer hours were given to fundraising efforts and to the building of the new church.
The first Sunday morning service in the church building was held on 13 September 1996 with a memorable processional from the old building to the new building. A special Dedication Service and Open House was held 6 October 1996. The total cost of the new building was around $240,000.00 which was totally paid for within the year.
Jim and Sharon Brown and family left the congregation in December 1998, and Greg Yantzi began serving as pastor in August 1999 and served until 2012.
Goerzen, Sue. "A History of the Harrow Mennonite Church." Web. 14 November 2013. http://www.harrowmennonite.on.ca/aboutUs/AboutUs.htm.
Mennonite Reporter (27 May 1985): 15; (4 September 1995): 11; (3 February 1997): 18.
Memories: Sixty Years of Mennonite Life in Essex and Kent Counties, 1925-1985. Leamington, 1985, 78 pp.
Address: R.R. #2, 3167 Walker Road, Harrow, ON N0R 1G0
Website: Harrow Mennonite Church
Conference of United Mennonite Churches in Ontario (1953-1988)
Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (1988-present)
General Conference Mennonite Church (1953-1999)
Harrow Mennonite Church Membership
|Date Published||January 1989|
Cite This Article
Epp, Marlene. "Harrow Mennonite Church (Harrow, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 1989. Web. 24 Apr 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Harrow_Mennonite_Church_(Harrow,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=104171.
Epp, Marlene. (January 1989). Harrow Mennonite Church (Harrow, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 April 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Harrow_Mennonite_Church_(Harrow,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=104171.
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