Meadow Brook Church (Leamington, Ontario, Canada)
Among the first Mennonites to arrive in the Leamington, Ontario area were Heinrich and Nicolai Schmidt with their families. Heinrich was a member of the Mennonite Brethren church. Realizing the need for spiritual fellowship, as they had experienced in Russia, the new arrivals met for worship in private homes regardless of Mennonite denominational affiliation. These services in German were often held without ministers being present.
Isaac Tiessen, who had been an Evangelical Mennonite Brethren minister in Lichtfelde, Russia, arrived and was asked to serve the new group. Occasionally ministers such as Jacob Friesen and Jacob H. Janzen from Waterloo and Kitchener, also ministered to the growing congregations which soon began to meet in rented facilities.
In 1931 participants from the Mennonite Brethren and the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren background, encouraged by the ministers from Kitchener, gathered under Isaac Tiessen's leadership and affiliated with the Molotschna Mennonite Brethren church of Kitchener.
As the Leamington Mennonite membership increased, the vision emerged to build a sanctuary. Since the United Mennonites and Mennonite Brethren followed different theological persuasions, and since the Kitchener (Molotschna) Mennonite Brethren church and its affiliated congregations had developed a plan to form a conference, sixteen Mennonite Brethren members in Leamington decided on 2 October 1932, to form a separate congregation -- Leamington Mennonite Brethren Church. A delegation composed of Isaac Tiessen, Franz Bartel and Heinrich Koop presented the decision to Elder N. N. Driedger on 9 October 1932. The decision to go a separate way was gracefully received. When the local United Mennonites launched their building project, the Mennonite Brethren sent a monetary gift, and the United Mennonite group reciprocated with a gift when the Mennonite Brethren began their building project.
This congregation of 50 members gathered every Sunday for morning and evening services. It formed a young people's group, and held mid-week Bible study and Saturday evening prayer meetings. The early services in rented facilities, usually above a business establishment, required preparation and setup for every service.
Sunday School had been an integral part of the Mennonite Brethren Church in Russia, and this continued in Canada. Daniel Boschman served as an early leader with great success, followed by Henry Thielman, David Derksen, Cornelius Hamm, and many other men and women who faithfully served in this important work.
The Leamington Mennonite Brethren Church also continued the hearty singing of gospel songs and traditional choral music which characterized their church in Russia. Abram Huebert led the first church choir; later directors included Gerhard Willms, Victor Penner, Jake Hamm, Ben Neufeld, Frank Bartel, John Bartel, Edgar Dyck, David Hamm and Elly Dyck.
The increase in Leamington MB's membership led to the purchase of land and then building of a church. On 11 June 1939 the membership delegated the brethren, Gerhard Dick, Frank Bartel, Gerhard Willms to purchase property on Elliot Street. Contractor J. Thiessen with volunteer labour from church members fnished the building at a cost of $3,500 in time for the 1939 Christmas Eve celebration. An addition was built in 1958, but the property was subsequently sold. The present church was completed in 1965 and expanded in 1979. Another expansion was being considered in 2003.
The Leamington Mennonite Brethren congregation's earliest activities centered on its internal spiritual needs through evangelistic meetings, Bible conferences, Jugend Verein and choirs. As time went on, this expanded to include a radio ministry for ten years, a Daily Vacation Bible School, Bible clubs, and boys' and girls' clubs. The church has actively supported local food banks and the distribution of clothing through thrift outlets like New to You, Et Cetera and others.
The congregation has also been engaged in expansion of its ministry. In 2003 Laotian immigrants, sponsored by neighbouring churches and individual families, worshiped in the facilities as a separate congregation. A youth pastor has helped to start the South Point Community Church in Leamington.
For a time two Sunday morning services were held with slightly different worship styles, but by 2003 this had returned to one service. Baptisms, which were once held in Lake Erie, are now conducted in the church baptistry. Worship services for the seniors in the Leamington Mennonite Home and other retirement homes are regularly provided. Originally the preaching was provided by members within the group -- Isaac Tiessen, Abram Huebert, Wilhelm Toews, Peter Friesen, Jacob Kroeker and David Derksen. Isaac Tiessen, who was ordained in 1935, became the first salaried pastor. Services were held in German until the 1950s when the transition to English began.
The congregation changed their name to Meadow Brook Fellowship in 2004.
Canadian Mennonite (16 Nov 1962): 4.
He Leadeth: History of the Mennonite Brethren Churches of Ontario 1924-57, ed. Henry H. Dueck. Kitchener, 1957.
Memories: Sixty Years of Mennonite Life in Essex and Kent Counties, 1925-1985. Leamington, ON,1985, 78 pp.
Mennonite Brethren Herald (27 May 1988): 53; (15 October 2004): http://www.mbherald.com/43/14/transitions.en.html.
Thanks be to Thee : Leamington M. B. Golden Anniversary 1932 - 1982.
When Your Children Shall Ask: A History of the Ontario Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches 1957-1982. Ontario: The Conference, 1982: 44-46.
Archives are at the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies
Address: R.R. 3, 219 Talbot Street E., Leamington, ON N8H 3V6
Website: Meadow Brook Church
Ontario Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (1932-present)
Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (1946-present)
General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (1939-2002)
Meadow Brook Church Pastoral Leaders
|Isaac & Anna Tiessen||1931-1958|
|Abram & Anna Huebert||1939|
|Jacob & Suzanna Kroeker||1940-1955|
|David D. & Louise Derksen||1948-1958|
|Henry & Helen Warkentin||1959-1964|
|Abe J. & Mary Konrad||1964-1974|
|David Derksen (interim)||1974-1975|
|Art & Elsie Willms||1975-1981|
|Albert & Lorna Baerg||1981-1987|
|John & Mary-Anne Nikkel||1987-1993|
|Jay & Kay Neufeld (interim)||1993-1994|
|Henry & Hildi Regier||1994-2007|
|Greg & Kelly Allen||2007-2014|
Meadow Brook Church Membership
|Date Published||May 2010|
Cite This Article
Bartel, Peter. "Meadow Brook Church (Leamington, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2010. Web. 20 Sep 2017. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Meadow_Brook_Church_(Leamington,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=147246.
Bartel, Peter. (May 2010). Meadow Brook Church (Leamington, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 September 2017, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Meadow_Brook_Church_(Leamington,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=147246.
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