Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church (Coaldale, Alberta, Canada)

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Coaldale MB Church, 1938; photo by C. F. Klassen Source: Centre for MB Studies, Winnipeg, MB: NP052-02-041

The Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church began services and formally organized on 23 May 1926. Initially there was very rapid growth due to immigration from the Soviet Union. In 1928 the first church was built, but it proved too small from the beginning. Additions were completed in 1929 and 1932. By 1939 it was necessary to build a new and still larger structure with a seating capacity of 1000. The pace of immigration declined and members began to move to British Columbia or Ontario. Another building was erected in 1971.

Klaas Enns is considered the founding leader of the group. Other leaders have included Frank Friesen, B. B. Janz, David Klassen, J. A. Toews, A. Dueck, A. Epp, A. P. Willms, H. Kornelsen and J. J. Unger.

Coaldale is the first Mennonite Brethren church in Alberta, as well as the largest and most prominent. The Mennonite Brethren established Coaldale Bible School in 1929 and Alberta Mennonite High School in 1946. The congregation also founded the Coaldale Hospital in 1934. he congregation sponsored the radio programs called “Gospel Bells” (1952–1968) and “Brot des Lebens” (1960–1973). The transition from German began in the 1960s.

The 1939 building became a museum in 1995 to house artifacts related to the history of the town of Coaldale.


Esau, Frieda. "The Coaldale MB Church: A Brief History." MB Historical Society of Canada Newsletter (Jan. 1981).

Fiftieth Anniversary of the Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church, May 23, 1976. 1976, 52 pp.

Gedenk und Dankfeier des 25-Jaehrigen Bestehens der Coaldale Mennoniten Brueder Gemeinde am 27. Mai 1951. 1951.

Mennonite Brethren Herald (27 May 1988): 4; (30 June 1995): 20.

Penner, Peter. No Longer at Arm's Length: Mennonite Brethren Church Planting in Canada. Winnipeg, MB: Kindred Press,1987, 178 pp.

Toews, John A. A History of the Mennonite Brethren Church: Pilgrims and Pioneers. 1975: 165-166.

Toews, John B. With Courage to Spare. Hillsboro, KS, 1978.

Archival Records

Church records at Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies.

Additional Information

Address: 2114-18th Street, Coaldale AB T1M 1G2

Telephone: 403-345-3636

Website: Coaldale MB Church

Denominational Affiliations:

Alberta Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches

Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches

General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches

Coaldale MB Church Leading Ministers

Minister Years
Klaas Enns 1926
Franz Friesen 1926-1928
Benjamin B. Janz 1928-1948
Peter B. Epp (interim) 1948
Jacob J. Siemens 1948-1956
David J. Pankratz 1956-1973
John Dueck 1973-1974
Rudy Heidebrecht 1974-1996
Randy Klassen (interim) 1997
Henry Willms (interim) 1998
Lorne Willms 1999-2007
Randy Dueck   2007-2012
Tom Allen (interim) 2012-present

Coaldale MB Church Membership

Year Members
1926 25
1935 346
1939 433
1950 602
1955 616
1965 467
1975 389
1985 366
1995 345
2000 335
2010 301

Original Article from Mennonite Encyclopedia

Vol. 1, p. 631 by J. B. Janz

Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church, a member of the Northern District Conference, is located ten miles east of Lethbridge, southern Alberta. Nearly all Mennonites of this community have come from Russia since 1923. The first five immigrant families settled on "Lathrop's farm" in 1926. On 23 May 1926, 21 members met and organized this church with Klaas Enns as their temporary leader. Enns has justly been called the pioneer of the Coaldale Settlement as well as of the church. Soon the ministers Dav. Klassen, Jakob Wieler, and Frank Friesen came to Coaldale, and on 4 December 1926, F. Friesen took over the leadership of the church. The following decade was one of rapid growth, which is dearly seen from the history of the church building. In 1928 the first church was built (32 x 52 ft.), which proved too small from the beginning, so that additions had to he made in 1929 and 1932. By 1939 it became necessary to build a new and still larger church. The new structure (60 x 104 ft) has a seating capacity of about 1,000. In the last decade the flow of immigrants has decreased and a number of families have moved either to British Columbia or Ontario. The present membership (1953) of the church is 602. Church services as well as Sunday-school classes are held in the German language. The Sunday school had an enrollment of 395 children.

Since 1929 a Bible school provides opportunities for the training of Sunday-school teachers and other church workers. At present it has an enrollment of 100 students who receive instruction under four teachers in three classes. Young people who desire a secular education under Christian teachers attend the Alberta Mennonite High School at Coaldale.

The church has had capable and devoted workers, among whom B. B. Janz deserves special mention. His sacrificial services have been a great blessing not only to the local church, but also to the whole Conference and to the Mennonite people in general. Others who have faithfully served the church in various capacities are F. Friesen, David Klassen, J. A. Toews, A. Dueck, A. Epp, A. P. Willms, H. Kornelsen, and J. J. Unger. At present (1953) 13 ministers and 5 deacons serve the church. The leader is J. J. Siemens and the assistant leader is D. J. Pankratz. 


Map:Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church (Coaldale, Alberta)

Author(s) J. B. Janz
Marlene Epp
Date Published November 2012

Cite This Article

MLA style

Janz, J. B. and Marlene Epp. "Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church (Coaldale, Alberta, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2012. Web. 14 Jun 2021.,_Alberta,_Canada)&oldid=55755.

APA style

Janz, J. B. and Marlene Epp. (November 2012). Coaldale Mennonite Brethren Church (Coaldale, Alberta, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 14 June 2021, from,_Alberta,_Canada)&oldid=55755.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 631. All rights reserved.

©1996-2021 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.