The Pella Mennonite Church was a branch of the multi-congregation Emmaus Mennonite Church and part of Conference of Mennonite of Canada. In the early 1900s a number of Mennonite families from Manitoba, mostly Sommerfeld, but with some Manitoba Bergthal, moved into the area south east of Swift Current. Some took up homesteads but others like the four Voth brothers, Henry, Bill (William), Peter and John established a General Store in the village of Neville.
In 1913 the Conference of Mennonites of Canada began sending visiting pastors including Benjamin Ewert, to the area with the result that formal worship began in1914 with worshipers meeting in homes and also establishing a German school that met in a tent in summer and a home in winter. By 1916 a small building was constructed on land donated by Isaac Heinrichs and the name Pella was chosen. The name, Pella, is derived from the town where in 66 A.D. the Christians of Jerusalem fled pending the Jewish revolt against the Romans and thus were saved from destruction. In 1924 Peter Vogt as Trustee and Benjamin Ewert as pastor formally petitioned the Federal Government to sever the two acres (0.80 ha.) of land where the church building sat from the rest of the quarter section. This was granted on 21 October 1925.
The 1916 building was the first building of the Emmaus church group and is located about 5 km. (3.2 miles) south east of the town of Neville, Saskatchewan, at NW-Sec27-Twp11-Rng12-W3 [49.93915°N,-107.57458°W]. This is in the Rural Municipality of Wiska Creek, RM106. The location is in the pleasant pastoral valley of Russell Creek about 2/3 km. south of highway 43, quite near the grid road. The building was about 7.3 x 5.5 m. (24 x 18 ft) with an entrance vestibule 2.7 x 3.7 m. (9 x 12 ft.). The outside was stucco. The sanctuary had a 3.7 m. (12 ft.) ceiling which was covered in ornate tin panels. The chimney was in the front with the heater in the back near the entrance with heating pipes traversing the building. Music was supplied by a pump organ. In traditional fashion in the sanctuary men sat on one side of the central isle and women on the other. A small cemetery is located about 30 metres north of the building. In 2006 the abandoned building was still standing and the cemetery overgrown with only three grave markers visible.
The rural community in the 1920s had an influx of Mennonites fleeing the Soviet Union that vitalized it. However, by the 1940s because of repeated crop failures of the Great Depression, the improved roads and better employment elsewhere caused many to leave for Ontario and British Columbia. German was the language of worship and the congregation always remained small and often had Mennonites from a variety of different affiliations. At times it suffered by not having a permanent leader or resident pastor. Further, visiting pastors from the other Emmaus congregations or the Conference was intermittent. The congregation closed its doors sometime in the 1960s with members joining either local non-Mennonite churches or the Blumenhof Mennonite Church.
The congregation is noteworthy for having three lawyers come out of one extended Vogt – Buhr family, Henry Vogt, his brother David Vogt and Abram Buhr who was related by marriage. Though part of the Mennonite community, these lawyers, who were among the first lawyers of Mennonite background in Western Canada, were never formally church members. Henry also served as Neville’s first mayor of Nevvile and his son Alfred, under the name A. E. van Vogt became in mid century a famous science fiction writer.
Pastors who served Pella were: Valentine Nickel (served primarily Wymark (Emmaus) from 10 June 1938-1962, ordained Ältester 20 May 1945, Cornelius Kehler, Peter Funk, and Hans Dyck.
Neville: The Golden Years 1900-1980: A History of Neville, Saskatchewan and Surrounding Areas. Neville, SK, 1980.
Jim Lyding. The Pella Church. Saskatchewan Mennonite Historian. Vol. XII, no.3, (December 2006), pp. 9-10. Harold Dick. Lawyers of Mennonite Background in Western Canada before the Second World War. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Legal Research Inst. of the University of Manitoba. 1993.
|Author(s)||Victor G Wiebe|
|Date Published||February 2014|
Cite This Article
Wiebe, Victor G. "Pella Mennonite Church, (Neville, Saskatchewan, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2014. Web. 10 Oct 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Pella_Mennonite_Church,_(Neville,_Saskatchewan,_Canada)&oldid=112560.
Wiebe, Victor G. (February 2014). Pella Mennonite Church, (Neville, Saskatchewan, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 10 October 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Pella_Mennonite_Church,_(Neville,_Saskatchewan,_Canada)&oldid=112560.
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