First Mennonite Church (Vineland, Ontario, Canada)

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First Mennonite Church, Vineland.
Rendition of the pre-1897 building
First Mennonite Church, Vineland, ON.
Source: Ontario's Places of Worship
Mennonite Bicentennial monument, 1986.
Source: Barbara Fauth

The First Mennonite Church in Vineland, Ontario is the oldest Mennonite congregation in Canada. At one time the congregation had three places of worship: the Moyer church at the present location, the Mountain church (extinct) and the Jordan church (extinct). Services were held alternately at the three churches. First Mennonite was known as Moyer Mennonite Church until 1955.

The congregation began services about 1800, and formally organized in 1801. The first building was occupied in 1801, with subsequent building programs in 1810, 1897, 1962 and 2000. Valentine Kratz is considered the founding leader of the group. The congregation originated through immigration beginning in 1786 from Pennsylvania  to "The Twenty". The congregation experienced loss of members both in the New Mennonite division and Old Order Mennonite division in the second half of the 19th century.

Samuel F. Coffman was longtime leader of the congregation from 1903 until his death in 1954. Although the congregation experienced a number of losses in the late 20th century, it experienced revival and growth when a number of "Russian Mennonite" families began to attend this church founded by some of the earliest Mennonites to come to Canada from Pennsylvania. The language of worship is English; the transition from German occurred in the 1890s.

The bicentennial of Mennonites in Canada in 1986 culminated in a celebration at First Mennonite Church with the unveiling of a Bicentennial Monument.


Burkholder, L. J. A brief history of the Mennonites in Ontario. 1935: 61, 43-48.

Canadian Mennonite (July 12, 1966): 10.

Coffman, S.F. "The one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Mennonite Church at Vineland, Ontario." 12 pp. MAO.

Good, E. Reginald. "Jacob Moyer's Mennonite church records: an interpretive sketch," Mennogespräch 3 (March 1985): 1-5.

Harder, Laureen. Their Richest Inheritance : a Celebration of The First Mennonite Church, Vineland, Ontario, 1801-2001. Vineland, Ontario: The Church, 2001.

Mennonite Reporter (July 30, 1990): 4.

"The Mountain Church," Mennonites in Canada collection "(1780-Vineland)," MAO.

Moyer, Carson. "The Mountain Church at Campden," Mennogespräch 4 (March 1986): 1-3.

Archival Records

Church records at Mennonite Archives of Ontario.

Additional Information

Address: 3557 Rittenhouse Road, Vineland, Ontario

Phone: 905-562-5944

Website: The First Mennonite Church

Denominational Affiliations:

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada

Mennonite Church Canada

The First Mennonite Church Pastoral Leaders

Name Years
of Service
Valentine Kratz 1801-1824
Jacob Moyer 1802
Bishop, 1807-1833
Jacob Moyer, Jr. 1824-1831
Daniel Hoch 1831-1849
Jacob Gross 1833
Bishop, 1834-1849
Abraham Moyer 1842-1871
Dilman Moyer 1842
Bishop, 1850-1874
Abram K. Hunsberger 1858-1889
Daniel Honsberger 1875-1914
John F. Rittenhouse 1889-1903
Samuel F. Coffman 1895
Bishop, 1903-1954
Willis Hallman 1951-1954
Wayne North 1955-1963
Milton Schwartzentruber 1964
Marvin Yoder 1965-1967
J. B. Martin
Clare Wideman 1969-1975
Eric Strachan 1976-1978
Richard Leonhard 1979
Stanley Shantz 1980-1982
Harold Nigh 1985-1989
Kevin Block 1991-2003
Harold Peters Fransen
Carol Penner 2004-2013
Phil Bender
(Intentional Interim)
Chris Hutton October 2015-September 2018
Laura Mullet Koop (Interim) November 2019-November 2020
Matthew Bailey-Dick (Interim) November 2020-March 2022
Craig Janzen Neufeld August 2022-

The First Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1900 60
1925 79
1950 71
1965 63
1975 66
1985 60
1995 56
2000 55
2015 50
2020 65


Map:First Mennonite Church (Vineland, Ontario)

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Joseph C. Fretz. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 764. All rights reserved.

Moyer Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church), at Vineland, Ontario now known as The First Mennonite Church of Vineland, was organized in 1801, by settlers from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Six families came in 1786, eight families came in 1799, and by the close of 1800 there were some 60 persons in this part of Ontario. At the time of organization, an estimated 100 persons constituted the congregation. With the permission of the Franconia Conference Valentine Kratz was ordained minister in 1801 and John Fretz deacon. A log schoolhouse was used at first for the services. In 1810 a site was provided on the farm of Jacob Moyer for the first meetinghouse and cemetery. Samuel Moyer was the first schoolteacher. Jacob (d. 1833) Moyer became minister in 1802, bishop in 1807. Shortly before his death the stone wall bounding the present cemetery was built.

The Moyer congregation reached its greatest strength by 1850. Other bishops who served "The Twenty," as it was called, were Jacob Gross, ordained in 1834, and Dilman Moyer, ordained in 1850. Other ministers were Jacob Moyer, Jr., Abraham Moyer, Daniel Hoch, Abram K. Hunsberger, Daniel Honsberger, John F. Rittenhouse, and Abraham Rittenhouse. The congregation experienced an unusual amount of difficulty through misunderstandings and schisms. First Bishop Jacob Gross withdrew to the Evangelical Association about 1849, with a considerable following. Daniel Hoch left in 1849 and he and his followers used the church east of the pond at Jordan. For a time he co-operated with the John H. Oberholtzer group in eastern Pennsylvania, then later with the Mennonite Brethren in Christ (MBC). The MBC movement of 1874-75 took several members. Again, the division of 1889 separated several families of the Old Order Mennonites, who worshiped in a frame building at the west side of the cemetery grounds. Sunday school was conducted in the late 1840s, with lessons from the New Testament, for the preservation of the German language. The ministry of more recent date consisted of S. F. Coffman, who was ordained in Chicago in 1895, came to Vineland shortly thereafter, and was ordained bishop in 1903. He was followed by Wayne North as minister, ordained in 1955. The membership now (1955) numbers 74.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published September 2003

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "First Mennonite Church (Vineland, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2003. Web. 14 Apr 2024.,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=173918.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (September 2003). First Mennonite Church (Vineland, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 14 April 2024, from,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=173918.

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