Old Colony Mennonites from Mexico began moving to Ontario in 1954. Some settled in the Aylmer area near Waterloo, while others settled in the Matheson area. For the first few years the families were served by visiting Old Colony Mennonite ministers from Manitoba. Services were first held in Aylmer in 1957. While those who settled in the Matheson area never organized a church and eventually moved away, those in Aylmer organized a church (Gemeinde) in 1960 with the assistance of Aeltester Jakob J. Froese from Winkler, Manitoba. The first ministerial election was held that year, with Henry Peters and Jakob Wiebe elected as ministers and Peter Giesbrecht as deacon. In 1966 Peter Driedger and Jakob Wiebe were also elected as ministers. In 1969 the Gemeinde was organized into two regions, with three ministers, Heinrich Reimer, Johann Neufeld, and Cornelius Quiring, serving the western part of the Gemeinde, and Jakob Reimer, Wilhelm Fehr, and Jakob Giesbrecht serving the eastern part.
On 19 November 1972 Heinrich Reimer was elected to serve as the first Aeltester. He was ordained by Aeltester Jakob Penner from Manitoba. Reimer eventually moved to Seminole, Texas and on 18 November 1978 Cornelius Quiring from Leamington was elected to replace Reimer. Quiring served until 1983 when he left the Gemeinde to form the New Reinland Mennonite Church of Ontario. On 8 November 1984 Wilhelm Fehr was elected as Aeltester, and he served until 1989. Cornelius R. Enns from Aylmer was elected Aeltester on 11 November 1989. On 30 July 1994, Peter W. Friesen of Leamington was elected to serve as Aeltester of the western part of the Gemeinde, serving the congregations in the Essex and Kent counties.
Congregations were formed first in Aylmer, followed by Wheatley in 1965. Other congregations were formed in Walsingham, Kingsville, Dresden, Drayton, Tillsonburg, Virgil, Charing Cross, Staples, Mapleton, Crosshill, Val Caron, and Norfolk.
In 1989 two private schools were started by the church in Wheatley and Aylmer. Others were later added in other locations. The curriculum used in the schools was accepted by the Ontario Department of Education and was developed by conservative Mennonites in the USA. Instruction in the schools was in English. Sunday schools began in the early 1960s, with instruction in German.
In 2000 the Gemeinde had 3,741 baptized members and 4,438 children for a total of 8,179 members and adherents. By 2007 the number of members had increased to 4,493 in 10 congregations.
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.
Friesen, Henry R. "Old Colony Mennonite Schools in Ontario" in Old Colony Mennonites in Canada 1875 to 2000, edited by Delbert F. Plett. Steinbach, MB: Crossway Publications, Inc., 2001: 168-170.
Gutsche, Horst W. "Verzeichnis deutschsprachiger Gemeinden und Seelsorger in Kanada." March 2010. Web. 23 February 2012..
Reimer, Margaret Loewen. One Quilt Many Pieces: A Guide to Mennonite Groups in Canada. Waterloo, ON and Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2008.
|Author(s)||Richard D Thiessen|
|Date Published||February 2012|
Cite This Article
Thiessen, Richard D. "Old Colony Mennonite Church of Ontario." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2012. Web. 6 Mar 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Old_Colony_Mennonite_Church_of_Ontario&oldid=95973.
Thiessen, Richard D. (February 2012). Old Colony Mennonite Church of Ontario. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 6 March 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Old_Colony_Mennonite_Church_of_Ontario&oldid=95973.
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