Old Colony Mennonites from Mexico began settling in southern Ontario in the mid-1950s, settling in Aylmer. Eventually they made their way to other parts of southern Ontario, including the Wheatley area within the municipality of Chatham-Kent. It lies about 12 kilometres (7 miles) east of Leamington. They began meeting together in 1962 in the home of Jacob Enns and the Old Colony Mennonite Church (Alt-Kolonie Mennonitengemeinde) in Wheatley was established in 1965. An old school building was purchased in 1966 in Coatsworth, Ontario so that services could be held in a larger space. In 1967 the congregation purchased property about 5 km. north of Wheatley on the Wheatley-Tilbury Townline in Romney Township. The existing garage on the property was converted to a church building. In 1972 a church measuring 40 by 80 feet was constructed on the property by church members. The new church seated 300 people for regular services, but could accommodate 500 for special occasions. The original church building was renovated for Sunday school usage.
The congregation experienced tremendous growth through the 1970s and 1980s as more Old Colony Mennonites immigrated to Canada from Mexico, and in 1988 and 1989 congregations were established in the Dresden and Kingsville areas respectively. In spite of the establishment of two new churches, the congregation continued to grow, leading to the decision to construct a 3,200 square foot addition to the sanctuary. The first worship service in the new sanctuary was on 19 February 1995. The main sanctuary can accommodate 700, making it the largest Old Colony Mennonite worship house in Ontario.
The congregation has supported MCC by working with the Ontario Mennonite Immigrant Assistance Committee and at the Et Cetera Shoppe. Other cooperative participation is seen in the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union, South Essex Community Council, and Leamington Mennonite Home.
In 2010 the church was led by Bishop Peter Friesen and services were held in both Low German and High German. Membership was 500-600.
Dyck, Peter and Henry Friesen. "Old Colony Mennonite Church of Ontario" in Old Colony Mennonites in Canada 1875 to 2000, edited by Delbert F. Plett. Steinbach, MB: Crossway Publications, Inc., 2001: 163-167.
Gutsche, Horst W. "Verzeichnis deutschsprachiger Gemeinden und Seelsorger in Kanada." March 2010. Web. 23 February 2012. http://www.uwinnipeg.ca/index/cms-filesystem-action/pdfs/german-cdn/101217-1.pdf.
"Wheatley Old Colony Mennonite Church." Legend for Churches: 25 Mennonite Congregations, Essex and Kent Counties, Ontario, Canada. Web. 26 February 2012. http://ekmha.ca/OCMC.htm.
Address: 22046 Essex County Rd 1 RR 2, Wheatley ON N0P 2P0
|Author(s)||Richard D Thiessen|
|Date Published||February 2012|
Cite This Article
Thiessen, Richard D. "Old Colony Mennonite Church (Wheatley, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2012. Web. 8 Mar 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Old_Colony_Mennonite_Church_(Wheatley,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=103427.
Thiessen, Richard D. (February 2012). Old Colony Mennonite Church (Wheatley, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 8 March 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Old_Colony_Mennonite_Church_(Wheatley,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=103427.
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