The Reinländer Mennonite Church was formed in Southern Manitoba in April 1958 by a conservative minority of some 500 members who withdrew from the 3,500 member Sommerfelder Mennonite Church in Manitoba. Twelve of the sixteen ministers of the Sommerfelder group joined the schismatic party, but the elder Johann Friesen did not leave. The new group elected Cornelius Nickel of Blumenthal as their bishop. Elements of the Sommerfelder group in Saskatchewan sympathized with them. The main body of Sommerfelders retained all the meetinghouses. -- Harold S. Bender
The Reinland Mennonite Church (Manitoba) grew out of the Sommerfelder Mennoniten Gemeinde (Sommerfeld Mennonite Church) in 1958. The new body was the second church named Reinländer in Manitoba--the first, popularly known as the Old Colony Church, immigrated to Mexico, 1922-25. The immediate issue in the 1958 division was the introduction of electricity into Sommerfelder meetinghouses, but underlying causes were complex. There was an uneasiness more felt than defined, that the values of the faith community were in danger of gradual erosion. Some 800 baptized members (about a fifth of the official Sommerfelder membership) including 12 ministers joined the new church. Cornelius C. Nickel was chosen as the first elder (bishop). Groups forming the new church first met for worship on Sunday, 13 April 1958. Services were held in a vacant house in Blumenfeld, in a machine shed south of Plum Coulee, in private homes near Rosenfeld, Roseau River, and elsewhere. The construction of new meetinghouses with separate Sunday school buildings began within months. New facilities were dedicated at Blumenfeld, Altona, Winkler, and Austin in 1958, at Stuartburn in 1960, and at Inwood in 1963 (the latter group eventually discontinued).
Other Reinländer groups emerged. In 1960 some families of Chortitzer Mennonite Church origin formed a congregation at Grunthal, Manitoba. Mennonite emigrants from Mexico formed another at Rainy River, Ontario in 1966. In 1968 a number of families, led by Elder Nickel, immigrated to Bolivia. Additional settlers from Saskatchewan and the Paraguayan Chaco joined them to establish a Reinländer congregation.
In 1969 Peter A. Rempel was chosen as the new Manitoba elder. He was active in the founding of a sister church at Swift Current Colony, Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1979. This group soon grew to include over 3,200 people (including children) meeting in five locations. Gerhard Neufeld became the elder. Other groups were organized at Santa Rita, Chihuahua, and at Seminole, Texas, with Johann Krahn and Heinrich Reimer serving as elders respectively. As Elder Rempel's health declined, he urged the election of a co-elder. William H. Friesen was chosen in 1982. The spiritual nurture of the church was enhanced by a harmonious relationship between the two elders. They sought to incorporate the rising generation into the church community. Sunday schools and youth groups flourished.
In 1990 the northern Reinländer body counted 1590 baptized members meeting at eight locations. -- Peter D. Zacharias
Mennonite World Handbook, ed. Paul N. Kraybill. Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference [MWC], 1978: 195, 273, 278, 314, 322.
Mennonite World Handbook. Strasbourg, France, and Lombard, IL: MWC, 1984: 134.
Mennonite World Handbook, ed. Diether Götz Lichdi. Carol Stream, IL: MWC, 1990: 409.
Reimer, Margaret Loewen, ed. One Quilt, Many Pieces. Waterloo, ON: Mennonite Publishing Service, 1983: 40.
|Author(s)||Harold S. Bender|
|Peter D. Zacharias|
Cite This Article
Bender, Harold S. and Peter D. Zacharias. "Reinland Mennonite Church (Manitoba)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1990. Web. 6 May 2016. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Reinland_Mennonite_Church_(Manitoba)&oldid=112427.
Bender, Harold S. and Peter D. Zacharias. (1990). Reinland Mennonite Church (Manitoba). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 6 May 2016, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Reinland_Mennonite_Church_(Manitoba)&oldid=112427.
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