Cressman, Curtis Clement (1894-1971)

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Wedding photo of Curtis Cressman and Amanda Byler Cressman, 1919. Family photo. 

Curtis Clement Cressman: pastor and bishop, was born 31 May 1894 in southwestern Wilmot Township, Waterloo County, Ontario to Ezra Cressman (13 November 1860-29 April 1938) and Louisa (Shantz) Cressman (17 December 1865-20 June 1950). He was the second of three sons. He was raised on the family farm, where he would live and farm most of his life. He attended Biehn Mennonite Church and was baptized there as a young man.

Curtis took an early interest in spiritual things, and was ordained as minister for the Biehn church on 23 July 1916 at age 22. Both he and the congregation believed he needed more training, so he attended Hesston College for two years. He met Amanda Byler (29 April 1893-11 August 1956), daughter of Jacob and Lydia Byler, whom he married on 25 January 1919. Their family consisted of Lillian Bean (adopted), Ruth Strubhar (Cliff); Elsie Cressman, and Howard (Gladys) Cressman. Two children, Paul and Lydia, died in infancy. After Amanda's rather sudden death, in October 1957 he married widow Clarice (Stager) Cressman (25 March 1897-13 November 1969).

Curtis served at the Biehn congregation as minister until 1947, when he was ordained as bishop on 26 October. He continued to serve as bishop from 1947 to 1958. Curtis was active in the wider church, and held numerous offices in the Mennonite Conference of Ontario. His bishop responsibilities included, besides Biehn, in York County (Markham), Zurich, Ontario, and Clarence Centre, New York.

He served on the Mennonite Board of Education of Mennonite General Conference, on the board of Ontario Mennonite Bible School (OMBS) which was held at First Mennonite, Kitchener. He served on the Mennonite Conference of Ontario Executive Committee, and was moderator for two years. In 1943 a discussion arose in Ontario concerning high school for Mennonite students. He was on the High School Committee that led to the formation of Rockway Mennonite School in 1945. He was the first chairman of the Rockway School board, and served on the board from 1945–52 and 1954–57. His others activities included: helping to start Braeside Home, the forerunner of Fairview Mennonite Home; visiting and encouraging young men in Alternative Service Work camps during World War II; and weekly visits to Green’s Public School for Bible lessons.  

During the 1950s changes in Ontario Conference brought conflict. Some members resisted the authority and rule of bishops and desired change on several issues: the understanding of I Corinthians 11, the wearing of jewelry, and wedding practices (rings, long gowns and veils). Since Curtis could not agree with these changes, he left Biehn in 1958 and the Mennonite Conference of Ontario in 1959, and was one of the leaders of the conservative movement in Ontario. He served as bishop of the New Hamburg Conservative Mennonite Church from its beginning in 1960 until his death in 1971, and was a founder of the Conservative Mennonite Church of Ontario. Curtis and Amanda Cressman are buried at the Nith Valley Mennonite Church (formerly Biehn Mennonite Church).

During his 55 year ministry, Curtis served his Lord at Biehn, in Ontario Conference and beyond, and at New Hamburg in the Conservative Mennonite Church.


"Cressman, Curtis C.” Gospel Herald 64 (21 September 1971). Reproduced in MennObits. “Gospel Herald Obituary - September 1971." Web. 1 March 2013.

"Cressman, Amanda Ethel.” Gospel Herald 49 (4 September 1956). Reproduced in MennObits. “Gospel Herald Obituary - September 1956." Web. 1 March 2013.

Author(s) Earl Koch
Date Published February 2013

Cite This Article

MLA style

Koch, Earl. "Cressman, Curtis Clement (1894-1971)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2013. Web. 31 Jul 2021.,_Curtis_Clement_(1894-1971)&oldid=163963.

APA style

Koch, Earl. (February 2013). Cressman, Curtis Clement (1894-1971). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 31 July 2021, from,_Curtis_Clement_(1894-1971)&oldid=163963.

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