Derstine, Clayton Freed (1891-1967)

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C. F. Derstine.
Mennonite Archives of Ontario photo

Clayton Freed Derstine, born 17 August 1891, died 31 August 1967, was the son of Mahlon and Mary (Freed) Derstine of Souderton, Pennsylvania. Following his conversion in 1911, "C.F." Derstine joined the Souderton Mennonite congregation. His zeal in organizing cottage meetings for Bible study and young peoples' Bible meetings launched him on a lifelong mission of evangelism and teaching throughout the Mennonite Church (MC) and beyond. Derstine was ordained a minister in 1914. He and his first wife, Gertrude Hangey (m. 1912), served at the Mennonite Mission in Altoona, Pennsylvania, 1913-1915. Within 13 months of his ordination, C. F. preached 520 sermons, as he accepted invitations from congregations in various states to conduct evangelistic services. He served as pastor of the Roanoke Mennonite Church at Eureka, Illinois, 1915-1924. He was ordained a bishop in 1921. Derstine moved with his family to Ontario in 1924 in response to a call from First Mennonite Church, Kitchener, where a division had splintered the congregation. During his pastorate (1924-1964), membership quadrupled. Derstine continued his evangelistic itineraries throughout Canada and the United States. His pulpit ministry stood as the focal point of his contribution to the church. After the death of his first wife, he married Mary Kolb in 1927.

His assignments in the Mennonite Conference of Ontario (Mennonite Church) included: conference executive committee (1925, 1930-33, 1936-30); bishop of the Toronto Mission (1938-1944) and of the Central District (1961-1966); Mennonite Mutual Benefit Association board (1944-1947); Colonization Committee (1953-1955); and the Ontario Mennonite Bible School faculty (1929-1948). He served the Mennonite Church (MC) general conference as associate member on the Relief Committee (1944-1946) and as editor of the Christian Monitor (1923-29; editor of the "World News" section until 1953).

His ministry in the community included founding a Summer Vacation Bible School for children, the first to be held in any denomination in Canada. With the support of community churches and the city of Kitchener, he founded the Kitchener House of Friendship, a ministry for the homeless.


Bender, Urie A. Four Earthen Vessels. Kitchener and Scottdale: Herald Press, 1982.

Minutes of the Mennonite Conference of Ontario and Ontario Mennonite Bible School in Mennonite Archives of Ontario, Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo.

Springer, Nelson and A.J. Klassen, eds. Mennonite Bibliography, 1631-1961. Scottdale: Herald Press, 1977 II: 433.

Warkentin, A. and Melvin Gingerich, eds., Who's Who Among the Mennonites. North Newton: Bethel College, 1943: 43.

Additional Information

A 30 second audio clip of C. F. Derstine from a 1956 sermon in Pennsylvania.
The entire sermon (34 minutes) on the Book of Revelation.

Author(s) Lorna L Bergey
Date Published 1990

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bergey, Lorna L. "Derstine, Clayton Freed (1891-1967)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1990. Web. 22 May 2024.,_Clayton_Freed_(1891-1967)&oldid=174769.

APA style

Bergey, Lorna L. (1990). Derstine, Clayton Freed (1891-1967). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2024, from,_Clayton_Freed_(1891-1967)&oldid=174769.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 226-227. All rights reserved.

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