Rosthern was only a plate stuck on a telegraph pole and a water reservoir for refilling the steam engines when the first Mennonite settlers arrived in 1891. Upon arrival in Rosthern, the railway coaches were shunted onto a siding and these settlers lived in them for five weeks while deciding just where they would settle. A formal church organization of settlers in the area was formed in 1894, and a church building for the whole area was built of logs at Eigenheim, six miles west of the Rosthern settlement, in 1896. In 1897 the name Rosenorter Gemeinde (Rosenort Church Group) was chosen. The founder of the Rosenorter Church was Peter Regier (1851-1925). He had been appointed Ältester (bishop) in 1887 in Prussia and immigrated to Tiefengrund, Saskatchewan in 1893.
A number of the members of the Rosenort Mennonite Church lived in Rosthern, and met in homes, which had become too small to accommodate the growing group. A small church building was constructed in 1903, and still stands in its original spot today (it is the meeting place of the Church of New Jerusalem). However, the church continued to grow rapidly through baptisms as well as the arrival of new settlers, and a new building was erected in 1912 on approximately the site of the present church. One of the earliest leaders of this church was David Toews, who served the congregation from 1913-1946.
During the 1920s, word came to Canada of the extreme hardships that Mennonites in Russia were suffering. Toews had a dream of resettling many of these Mennonites in Canada. Although government policies, both in Canada and Russia, were against this possibility, Toews began to work toward making his dream come true. He spent much time and effort talking to everyone from government officials to railroad executives, and eventually over 20,000 Mennonites from Russia came to Canada. A number of these people settled in the Rosthern area, and brought considerable new energy and gifts to the congregation here.
The church building constructed in 1912 served for many years, but by the early 1960s was showing signs of being much too small for the congregation. It was decided to build a new church, so the lot beside the church building was purchased, and in 1963-64 a new brick building was constructed. This building featured a much larger sanctuary, as well as a number of classrooms for Sunday School, a large library area, a large and well-equipped kitchen, and a lower hall that could accommodate the congregation for wedding meals, banquets, etc. With some renovations, this building has served as the congregation's place of worship for 45 years.
In 1954 the Rosenort church group divided into two parts because of its unwieldy size. The groups were known as the Rosenort Mennonite Church (Tiefengrund, Garthland, Capasin, Hague, Hochfeld, Neuanlage and Aberdeen) and the United Mennonite Church of Saskatchewan (Rosthern, Osler, Laird and Horse Lake). These multi-congregational churches dissolved in 1962 and the Rosthern Mennonite Church became truly independent.
The Rosenort congregation began to be divided into smaller autonomous congregations beginning in 1929, and in 1954 Rosthern became part of the United Mennonite Church of Saskatchewan, which also included congregations at Laird, Osler and Horse Lake. In 1962 this was again decentralized, and the Rosthern Mennonite Church became a completely separate congregation.
Lay leadership was always part of the church in the earlier years, taking some of the burden of ministry of the large congregation from the senior pastor. In 1988, a second pastor was hired, when Michael Peak became the associate/youth pastor. Since then, Chester Wiebe, Mark & Candace Wurtz, Marco Funk, Lucas Plett and Wendy Luitjens have held this position. At the present time, the youth are led by a volunteer team of parents and interested young adults.
Over the years, people working at the various institutions in the Rosthern area often became a part of the congregation, and the institutions offered people in the congregation many chances to serve God and the church. Rosthern Junior College, the Mennonite Youth Farm, including its various homes, the Home for the Aged, and more recently the Clothes Basket, have all been places in the community where faith could be demonstrated in practical ways. In earlier years, the Mennonite Board of Colonization, the German-language newspaper Der Bote, and the Mennonite bookstore were also important institutions to the church and community.
The Rosthern Mennonite Church celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2003, and continues as an active congregation today.
Heese, Justina. "Our Church Family History." Unpublished typescript, 1978, 33 pp. Mennonite Historical Society of Canada collection, Mennonite Archives of Ontario.
Rempel, J. G. Die Rosenorter Gemeinde in Saskatchewan. 1950, 183 pp.
Rosthern Mennonite Church. "History of Rosthern Mennonite Church." Web. 10 July 2010. http://www.rosthernmennonitechurch.com/.
Archival Records:Records at Mennonite Heritage Centre - Rosthern Mennonite Church fonds.
Address: Box 519, 3016 5 St., Rosthern, SK, S0K 3R0
Website: Rosthern Mennonite Church
Mennonite Church Saskatchewan (1960-present)
Conference of Mennonites in Canada / Mennonite Church Canada (1903-present)
General Conference Mennonite Church (1908-1999)
Rosthern Mennonite Church Ministers
|I. I. Friesen||1930-1939|
|Isaac P. Friesen||1930-1943|
|Jacob C. Schmidt||1954-1963|
|Wilmer & Barb Froese||2006-2010|
Rosthern Mennonite Church Membership
|Date Published||March 2012|
Cite This Article
Heese, Justina, Frank Letkeman and Ewald Epp. "Rosthern Mennonite Church (Rosthern, Saskatchewan, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2012. Web. 3 Aug 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Rosthern_Mennonite_Church_(Rosthern,_Saskatchewan,_Canada)&oldid=112627.
Heese, Justina, Frank Letkeman and Ewald Epp. (March 2012). Rosthern Mennonite Church (Rosthern, Saskatchewan, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 3 August 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Rosthern_Mennonite_Church_(Rosthern,_Saskatchewan,_Canada)&oldid=112627.
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