Abbotsford (British Columbia, Canada)

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Abbotsford, British Columbia, which describes itself as the city in the country, is located in the center of the fertile Fraser River valley, 2.5 miles (4 km) north of the United States boundary and about 40 miles (65 km) east of Vancouver, along the Trans-Canada highway (coordinates: 49° 3′ 16.6″ N, 122° 19′ 40.8″ W). Langley is to the west, Chilliwack is to the east, and Mission is to the north. According to the 2006 Census Canada data, the area of Abbotsford has a population of 159,020. The city is the third most ethnically diverse city in Canada, after Toronto and Vancouver, with South Asians comprising nearly 19% of the population in 2006.

It was John Cunningham Maclure (1831-1907), a British Royal Engineer sent out to British Columbia as part of a survey team, who is credited with laying out the initial 160-acre plot that was to become Abbotsford. The village of Abbotsford was incorporated in February 1924. Following a 1993 referendum, Matsqui (including the area known as Clearbrook, incorporated in 1892) and Abbotsford were officially amalgamated on 1 January 1995, as the City of Abbotsford.

The first Mennonite settlers arrived in the Clearbrook area, sometimes referred to as Poverty Flats, in 1931 to locate on a plot of land that had been reserved for them by the Matsqui Municipality. Approximately a year later, on 1 May 1932, South Abbotsford Mennonite Brethren (MB) Church was organized with Abram Rempel as the leader, Cornelius Enns as his assistant and Isaak Sawatzky as secretary.  The first United Mennonite church (West Abbotsford Mennonite Church) was organized in November 1936 with Peter P. Epp as the founding elder.

Soon after a local church base was established, Mennonites began planning for the education of their young people. On 26 September 1936 the South Abbotsford MB church began a Bible school with C. C. Peters as the first instructor and 30 students enrolled. This school eventually became Mennonite Brethren Bible Institute. In 1944 the South Abbotsford Church also laid the foundation for a Christian high school with instruction in Grades 9 to 11. Its very modest beginnings notwithstanding, the Mennonite Educational Institute (MEI) has developed into the largest private school in the province, now offering elementary, middle and secondary education.

The United Mennonite churches established a Bible school in Coghlan, later called Bethel Bible Institute (BBI). In 1946 this school was relocated onto property located next to West Abbotsford Mennonite Church (now Level Ground Mennonite Church). In its history, BBI served some 500 young people from every congregation in the denomination. In 1970 this school was amalgamated with the Mennonite Brethren Bible Institute, and renamed Columbia Bible Institute.

Mennonites in 2008 number approximately 12% of the Abbotsford population, with 15 Mennonite Brethren, 6 Mennonite Church, and one Church of God in Christ, Mennonite congregations. Mennonite entrepreneurs excel in agri-businesses, real estate and land development enterprises. Together, Mennonites operate Mennonite Educational Institute and Columbia Bible College. Further, Abbotsford is the denominational headquarters for both the BC Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and Mennonite Church BC. Here too are the ministry centers for Mennonite Brethren Missions and Service International, the Mennonite Central Committee of BC, Communitas Supportive Care Society (formerly MCC Supportive Care Services) and the Mennonite Historical Society of BC. In addition, Abbotsford Mennonites are prominent in their support a range of local para-church ministries including Kinghaven, M2W2, Fraser Valley Gleaners, and Gideons.

Mennonites have become well known for their involvement in the life of the community, with representatives on both the local school board and civic government.  In 2008 the Member of Parliament for Abbotsford is a member of a local Mennonite Brethren congregation. Certainly, the people of the Fraser Valley have been enriched by Mennonite music making with well-known groups as the Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir, West Coast Mennonite Chamber Choir, Valley Festival Singers and the often acclaimed MEI choirs and bands. Prominent Mennonite musicians include Rudy Baerg, Tony Funk, Calvin Dyck, Holda Fast Redekop, Betty Suderman, Larry Nickel and Wes Janzen.

The Ten Most Common Names in the Maclure Road Mennonite Cemetery

A 2024 review of the surnames of those buried in the Maclure Road Mennonite Cemetery in Abbotsford showed the following as the most common names:

Surname Number
Dick/Dueck/Dyck 234
Friesen 211
Klassen 205
Wiebe 160
Janz/Janzen 140
Thiessen 130
Neufeld(t) 127
Penner 120
Peters 120
Loewen 112

See also Arnold (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada).

Additional Information

Mennonite Congregations in Abbotsford, 2009

Congregation Denomination Founded Membership
Abbotsford Church of God in Christ, Mennonite Church of God in Christ, Mennonite 1948  
Abbotsford Arabic Church Mennonite Brethren 2000 25
Abbotsford Mennonite Fellowship Mennonite Church 1996 21
Alderbrook Community Church Mennonite Brethren 2001 40
Arnold Community Church Mennonite Brethren 1943 95
Bakerview Hispanic Church Mennonite Brethren 1996 39
Bakerview MB Church Mennonite Brethren 1965 608
Central Heights MB Church Mennonite Brethren 1950 1,048
Clearbrook MB Church Mennonite Brethren 1935 312
Clearbrook Mennonite Church Mennonite Church 1952 56
East Abbotsford Community Church Mennonite Brethren 2003  
Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church Mennonite Church 1963 403
Emmanuel Mennonite Church Mennonite Church 1980 246
Highland Community Church Mennonite Brethren 1976 57
King Road MB Church Mennonite Brethren 1966 577
Lao Christian Church Mennonite Church 1983 42
Level Ground Mennonite Church Mennonite Church 2009 178
Life Centre Mennonite Brethren 2006  
Mountain Park Community Church Mennonite Brethren 1991 174
Northview Community Church Mennonite Brethren 1980 1,713
Ross Road Community Church Mennonite Brethren 1947 426
South Abbotsford MB Church Mennonite Brethren 1932 843
Total     6,903

Most membership numbers, if available, were taken from the 2007 directories of the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and Mennonite Church British Columbia.

Former Anabaptist / Mennonite Congregations in Abbotsford

Church Denomination Founded Year Dissolved / Left Conference Notes
Abbotsford Chinese Christian Church Mennnonite Brethren 1990 2006 Dissolved
Abbotsford Christian Fellowship Mennnonite Brethren 1986 1993 Left conference
Bread of Life Community ? 1973 ?
Central Heights Korean Ministry Mennnonite Brethren 2003 2009 Dissolved
Central Valley Fellowship Non-affiliated 1984 ? Dissolved
Christian Fellowship “Yo Soy” Mennonite Church 1999 2003 Dissolved
Grace Evangelical Bible Church Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches 1946   Denomination is no longer Mennonite
Matsqui MB Church Mennnonite Brethren 1945 1975 Dissolved
Meeting Place Fellowship Mennonite Brethren 1999 2008 Dissolved
Mount Lehman Mennonite Church Mennonite Church     Never formally organized
Olivet Church Mennonite Church 1960 2007 Left conference
Peardonville Fellowship Chapel Evangelical Mennonite Conference 1970 1981 Dissolved
Peardonville Mennonite Church Mennonite Church 1952 1968 Dissolved
Vietnamese MB Church Mennonite Brethren     Dissolved
Vintage 242 Church Mennonite Brethren 2004 2009 Dissolved
Wellspring Christian Fellowship Mennonite Church 1989 2008 Merged with West Abbotsford to form Level Ground Mennonite Church
West Abbotsford Mennonite Church Mennonite Church 1936 2008 Merged with Wellspring Christian Fellowship to form Level Ground Mennonite Church
West Clearbrook Community Church Mennnonite Brethren 1989 1998 Dissolved


Map:Abbotsford (British Columbia)

Author(s) David Giesbrecht
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published May 2024

Cite This Article

MLA style

Giesbrecht, David and Richard D. Thiessen. "Abbotsford (British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2024. Web. 13 Jun 2024.,_Canada)&oldid=178871.

APA style

Giesbrecht, David and Richard D. Thiessen. (May 2024). Abbotsford (British Columbia, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 13 June 2024, from,_Canada)&oldid=178871.

©1996-2024 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.