Leamington United Mennonite Church (formerly known as Essex County Vereinigte Mennonitengemeinde or Essex County United Mennonite Church) (Mennonite Church Canada), in Leamington, Ontario (population in 1955, 6,951; 30.203 in 2007) is located 35 miles southeast of Windsor. In the mid-1950s the church consisted exclusively of immigrants from the Soviet Union, most having immigrated to Canada between 1923 and 1930; in fact, all the Mennonites near Leamington were immigrants from the Soviet Union, and belonged either to the General Conference Mennonite Church or to the Mennonite Brethren. The first 15 families came from the vicinity of Waterloo as farm hands and share farmers. In the course of time other families came from all parts of Ontario and the western provinces of Canada.
The congregation began services in 1925, and formally organized in 1929. The first ministers chosen from the congregation, J. D. Janzen and N. H. Schmidt, were ordained by Elder Jacob H. Janzen. Services were held every Sunday, at first in private homes, and later in rented halls. In the first years church life was very difficult to maintain because of the general poverty and the distances to the center. The congregation was initially scattered into smaller groups at Kingsville, Harrow, Windsor, Pelee Island, and Leamington.
From 1925 to 1929 all the General Conference Mennonites in Ontario who had come from Russia were united by Elder Jacob H. Janzen into a single organization, called at first the General Refugee Church in Ontario (Allgemeine Flüchtlingsgemeinde in Ontario), but later (15 August 1926) changed to United Mennonite Church in Ontario. Waterloo was the center. Because of steady growth and the great distance between groups of the members, the body was divided on 20 January 1929 into three independent congregations in Waterloo, Leamington, and Reesor, of which the Essex County United Mennonite Church was one, with its center at Leamington.
In 1929 the church had 303 baptized members. Until 1933, J. H. Janzen, Waterloo, administered baptism and communion, and contributed much to the general courses for ministers. In the autumn of 1932 the congregation chose N. N. Driedger as elder from among the ministers, and ordained him on 20 May 1933. He was still serving in 1955. In 1933 a church was built, and in 1948 an annex was added. In the mid-1950s most of the members were farmers, and a few lived in town. Low German is usually spoken at home.
The congregation was known as Essex County United Mennonite until 1958, when it changed its name to the Leamington United Mennonite Church. It is the parent church to the North Leamington United Mennonite Church (1954), a division which occurred because of growing membership. The two churches were under one organization until 1981 when they became autonomous.
Canadian Mennonite (9 April 1954): 1.
Driedger, N. N. The Leamington United Mennonite Church: Establishment and Development, 1925-1972. Leamington, ON: The Church, 1972, 176 pp.
Memories: Sixty Years of Mennonite Life in Essex and Kent Counties, 1925-1985. Leamington, 1985, 78 pp.
Mennonite Reporter (2 February 1981): 4; (10 December 1984): 11.
Address: 78 Oak St. E., Leamington, ON, N8H 2C6
Web site: The Leamington United Mennonite Church
Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (1988-present)
Conference of Mennonites in Canada / Mennonite Church Canada (1929-present)
General Conference Mennonite Church (1929-1999)
Leamington UMC Leading Ministers
|Jacob H. Janzen||1929-1931|
|Nicolai N. Driedger||1931-1971|
|W. C. Schellenberg||1929-1941|
|C. H. Tiessen||1925-1939|
|H. P. Lepp||1927-1943|
|Bernie Wiebe (interim)||2008-present|
Leamington UMC Membership
|Author(s)||N. N. Driedger|
|Date Published||January 1989|
Cite This Article
Driedger, N. N. and Marlene Epp. "Leamington United Mennonite Church (Leamington, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 1989. Web. 24 Jul 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Leamington_United_Mennonite_Church_(Leamington,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=112780.
Driedger, N. N. and Marlene Epp. (January 1989). Leamington United Mennonite Church (Leamington, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 July 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Leamington_United_Mennonite_Church_(Leamington,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=112780.
Herald Press website.
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