Blumenort Community Church (Blumenort, Manitoba, Canada)
Blumenort Evangelical Mennonite Church began in 1874 when a group of Mennonite immigrants, the Kleine Gemeinde (little church or communion), came to southeastern Manitoba from Russia. They settled in two areas, the West Reserve near Rosenort, Manitoba (being west of the Red River), and in the East Reserve, which included the villages of Gruenfeld (now Kleefeld), Steinbach, and Blumenort. The original community was about 1.5 km south of the present-day community.
The village of Blumenort, north of Steinbach, consisted of narrow strips of land for the farmyards. Families lived side by side in the village and travelled to their quarters of land to work them. At first there were about 22 families in Blumenort. In 1875 a second group came from Russia. Some of them established the village of Blumenhof about 1.5 km east of Blumenort.
In some areas people began to move from the village to their own farms in order to be closer to their work. By 1910 the last family had left the Blumenort village. The old village system was abandoned; it had fulfilled its purpose.
At first, church services were held in the larger houses and rotated among the four congregations of Gruenfeld, Steinbach, Rosenhof (between Steinbach and Kleefeld), and Blumenort. Peter Toews, the first elder or bishop, was assisted by several ministers who also rotated in their preaching duties.
In 1888 a building was erected which served as both a church and a school. For a time Blumenhof also had its own church-school. A large building was erected in 1918, about 1.5 km south of the present location, to serve both Blumenort and Blumenhof districts. It was used for church services until 1951 when a larger church was built on the present site. The site was selected because a village was growing around a cheese factory that had opened there in 1932.
The Kleine Gemeinde suffered a severe setback in 1881 when about half of the Blumenort area people left the Kleine Gemeinde (KG) and joined the Church of God in Christ Mennonite (Holdeman). Because elder Peter Toews and most of the ministerial were included in this change, the KG was left almost leaderless. However, with some help from the elder Abraham L. Friesen from the Nebraska group, they survived and new leaders were chosen.
The need for more farmland caused about a dozen families to move a few miles west to Prairie Rose (now Landmark) between 1918 and 1920. A much larger and more significant exodus occurred in 1948 when Elder Peter P. Reimer led a large group to Mexico to establish the Quellen Colony.
During Reimer’s leadership the KG churches became self-governing in 1945. Each church was to choose its own elder responsible for leadership, baptism, and communion. He remained elder of Blumenort until he moved to Mexico.
His brother David P. Reimer, who had been a minister in Blumenort since 1929, succeeded him. He had been appointed editor of the paper, Christlicher Familienfreund, in 1935. During World War Two he helped young men achieve Conscientious Objector (CO) status. He travelled to CO camps, serving as a chaplain and encouraging them. He was influential in building the KG through many changes.
In 1958 the congregation had grown to 500 members, crowding the building. The congregation decided to divide. About 100 members left to form the Ridgewood Evangelical Mennonite Church, its building located a few miles east near the community of Giroux, Manitoba.
During this era the concept of missions developed. The original focus was on colonization (a movement by families to relocate to new areas for outreach, farmland, and to serve believing families) and in extension from Blumenort. Blumenort has been instrumental in the founding of numerous churches: Mennville (1950), Heron (1957), Morweena (1960), Treesbank (1966), Pansy (1966), Stratton (1969), and Anola (1979).
When Reimer retired at the end of 1962, the congregation chose minister John P. Loewen as its new leader, a role he held for 23 years. Under his leadership the church congregation grew from 375 to 540 members. The church’s building was completely remodelled, and a spacious foyer and large three-storey educational wing were added in 1968. In 1981 the sanctuary section was removed and a building seating about 800 was erected. Loewen retired in 1985 and left with his wife Helen to lead the Mount Salem Evangelical Mennonite Church for a few months. The need was so great that he stayed on for two years.
In 1986, Walter Reimer, elected as a minister two years earlier, was chosen as Blumenort’s leading minister. Reimer had previously served as a missionary to Paraguay and as an EMC national office worker in Christian Education. He served until 1991. Melvin Penner served as senior pastor from 1992 to 1999.
Barry Plett, who had served as youth pastor, was elected as the Senior Pastor in 2000. Anthony Reimer began serving as the Associate or Administrative Pastor in 2006. Vince Kehler started out as the Youth Pastor in 2008 and shifted into the role of Community Life Pastor in 2016. Mitchell Martens joined Blumenort as Youth Pastor in November 2016.
In 2017 membership at the Blumenort EMC was 435, with an average Sunday morning attendance of about 450 people. It was very active in the community of Blumenort, hosting many different programs: VBS every summer, Kids clubs and youth group programs, and Sunday School for all ages. It also ran a seven-week summer camp program at Eagle Lake Bible Camp in Ontario.
After five or six years of discussion, in late 2019 the congregation changed its name to Blumenort Community Church. The term "Mennonite" had become a cultural term that discouraged some people from attending.
Dueck, Shannon. "Same church, different name." CHVN95.1FM. 11 November 2019. Web. 12 November 2019. https://chvnradio.com/news/same-church-different-name.
Hamm, Menno. “Church Profile: Blumenort.” The Messenger (21 Dec 1990): 7-10.
Hamm,Menno. “History and Development of the Blumenort Church.” The Messenger (21 Dec 1990): 8-9.
Loewen, Royden. Blumenort : A Mennonite Community in Transition 1874-1982. Blumenort: Blumenort Mennonite Historical Society, 1983.
Address: 59 Centre Avenue, Blumenort, Manitoba
Website: Blumenort Community Church
Denominational Affiliation: Evangelical Mennonite Conference
Blumenort Community Church Membership
Original Article from Mennonite Encyclopedia
By David P. Reimer Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 372. All rights reserved.
Blumenort Kleine Gemeinde Mennonite Church was located four miles north of Steinbach, Manitoba. It was one of the largest in membership of the five Kleine Gemeinde districts in Manitoba. The 1948 baptized membership was 430; most of the members were rural people. From 1874 to 1918 church meetings were held in the village schoolhouses. A new church was built between the two larger school districts, Blumenort and Blumenhof, in 1918. David P. Reimer was ordained as bishop in 1948 to succeed his brother, Bishop P.P. Reimer, who emigrated to Mexico. Preachers serving in 1953 were Cornelius R. Penner, John G. Barkman, Bernhard P. Doerksen, and Peter P. Friesen. The deacons were Aaron R. Reimer, Peter K. Dueck, and Cornelius R. Plett. Sunday School was held every Sunday and Jugendverein every four weeks.
|Date Published||November 2019|
Cite This Article
Hamm, Menno and Lisa Kehler. "Blumenort Community Church (Blumenort, Manitoba, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2019. Web. 8 Aug 2020. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Blumenort_Community_Church_(Blumenort,_Manitoba,_Canada)&oldid=166073.
Hamm, Menno and Lisa Kehler. (November 2019). Blumenort Community Church (Blumenort, Manitoba, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 8 August 2020, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Blumenort_Community_Church_(Blumenort,_Manitoba,_Canada)&oldid=166073.
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