Westdale Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse (Harriston, Ontario, Canada)
The Mount Forest area was first settled by Old Order Mennonites from Waterloo County, Ontario in 1967, several years after the first farms were purchased in 1964. This movement to the Mount Forest area resulted from the expansion of urban areas of Waterloo County into the Old Order community, and the rising cost of agricultural land in Waterloo County.
The Westdale meetinghouse was built in 1997, on John McComb's farm. When property was purchased from John McComb in 1988 in order to build a school for the local Old Order Mennonite community, he wanted to provide enough land for a meetinghouse too. However, at that time, the small community was not ready for a meetinghouse. It was not until around 1995 that the number of families in the area began to increase, and it continued to do so after the meetinghouse was constructed in 1997.
Oscar Martin was ordained as the first minister on 9 June 1998, and Elam Martin was ordained as the first deacon on 21 November 2000. As is the practice in Old Order churches, they were ordained by lot from within the congregation. Ordained persons are not paid for their church service.
The Westdale meetinghouse stands with the women's gable end toward the road, which is somewhat unusual. It was also the first meetinghouse built with a cement floor underneath the pine floorboards. This was done to avoid using wood joists, which eventually deteriorate. It also meant lowering the floor so that there is only one small step at the doorway, making the meetinghouse more accessible for wheelchairs.
In 1997 there were 19 families in the Westdale district, and by 2004 this number had increased to 28. No accurate count of members is available for most of the history of the congregation because Old Order Mennonites think of themselves as members of the church at large and not just the immediate congregation. The Old Order also do not see the quantity of members as indicative of the congregation's importance. When people move from one geographical area to another, they automatically "belong to" the congregation whose meetinghouse is closest to their home. No formal membership transfer takes place from the former location.
Information from the church.
Location of meetinghouse: 6497 Line 10, Minto Township, Wellington County, Ontario (43.93420, -80.79185)
Table 1: Westdale Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse Ordained Leaders
|Ministers||Years of Service||Deacons||Years of Service|
|Oscar Martin||9 June 1998-||Elam Martin||21 November 2000-|
Table 2: Westdale Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse Membership (in families)
Cite This Article
Streicher, Anita. "Westdale Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse (Harriston, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 2005. Web. 17 Feb 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Westdale_Old_Order_Mennonite_Meetinghouse_(Harriston,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=93905.
Streicher, Anita. (2005). Westdale Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse (Harriston, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 February 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Westdale_Old_Order_Mennonite_Meetinghouse_(Harriston,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=93905.
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