Hagerman Mennonite Church (Markham, Ontario, Canada)
Floyd and Lillian Schmucker, with their family of nine children, were the driving force behind establishing a community-oriented church in a small hamlet called Hagerman’s Corners, north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The congregation was formally established in 1937 with 16 charter members. While some financial support was given by the Mennonite Mission Board of Ontario, Schmucker worked full-time at other jobs to support his family while doing church ministry. He spent considerable time in visiting local families, many of whom were recent immigrants from Europe.
The earliest outreach efforts focused on providing Sunday school and vacation Bible school for the many children in the neighborhood. A girls’ club and sewing circle were also established by Lillian Schmucker.
After using a home, the local school and a temporary “basement with a roof” on the current property for worship and programs during the early years, the whole community celebrated when an architect-designed building was completed in 1956. There were two worship services every Sunday—morning and evening. A number of Mennonite families from other churches came to support the mission focus of the church. Some women from neighborhood families came faithfully to the sewing circle and worship services.
The fellowship hall was added in 1968 for use as recreational space for the clubs as well as Sunday School. Boys and girls clubs, Christian camping and other programs for youth-—both in the church and from the neighbourhood—-were a focus during those years.
After a period of steady growth, a time of loss was experienced in the 1970s. Pastor Emerson McDowell died of cancer in 1976 at the age of 58. At the same time, another long-standing member was diagnosed with a terminal illness and the congregation found it painful to walk with families closely connected to the church who were experiencing marital breakdown. In the 1970s Pastor Maurice Martin helped to establish a Serve and Learn Together (SALT) unit that brought other young adults from across Canada to the church.
By the 1980s, Hagerman’s Corners experienced massive change. It became part of an urban community bordering the City of Toronto with many immigrants, particularly from Asia. The congregation felt unsure of how to respond to all the changes knowing that the language and cultural barriers made it difficult to reach out to the new neighbors. When the Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church asked to use their facilities as a basis to do outreach to the new immigrants in 1990, the congregation voted unanimously to share their space. By 1993, the Markham Chinese Mennonite Church was established.
Demographic shifts affected the church in other ways during the same period. Property values were rising, along with massive new development and higher density living. This had the effect of encouraging young couples and retirees to buy homes north of the city and many purchased homes in the Stouffville area. By 1995, there were a significant number of Hagerman members with a vision to start a new church in that community. After a challenging but healthy process of listening to each other, it was clear that there were two distinct but equally valid visions: one to start a new Mennonite congregation in Stouffville; the other to have a renewed congregation at Hagerman that adapted to a multi-cultural and urban environment. Both groups agreed to bless the other’s vision and Community Mennonite Church of Stouffville was established in 1996 with 30 adults and 25 children. A similar number of adults but fewer children remained at Hagerman. Pastor Gordon Alton agreed to work with each group part-time during a transition period that lasted for four years.
Hagerman nurtured the start of another new congregation in 2005 when space was provided to the Markham Christian Worship Centre, the first Tamil-speaking Mennonite Church in Canada. Now each Sunday, three congregations met and worshiped in Cantonese, Tamil and English on the same location.
At the 75th anniversary celebration in 2012 the closing litany expressed gratitude to God for his faithfulness and expressed the hope that the congregation could be “salt and light” and “demonstrate how different cultures can work together in a world that all too often seeks to divide.”
Mennonite Reporter (26 December 1977): 4; (20 February 1995): 8.
Grove, Ken. "The History of the Hagerman Mennonite Church." Research paper, CMBC, 1983.
Reesor-McDowell, Joanna. "Hagerman celebrates 75th anniversary." Ontario Mennonite History 31, no. 1 (June 2013): 1, 3. Web. 6 December 2016. http://www.mhso.org/sites/default/files/publications/MHS%20Newsletter-Spring%202013.pdf.
Address: 4581 14th Avenue Markham, ON L3S 3K2
Denominational Affiliations: Mennonite Church Eastern Canada
Ordained Leaders at Hagerman Mennonite Church
|David T. Martin||1982-1991|
|Roberson Mbayamvula||December 2012-present|
Membership at Hagerman Mennonite Church
Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article
By Joseph C. Fretz. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 627. All rights reserved.
Hagerman Mennonite Mission (Mennonite Church) is a small assembly five miles southwest of Markham, York County, Ontario, and 10 miles north of the East Toronto Mennonite Mission. It was founded in 1934 in the local school as a Sunday school, and organized as a mission in 1937 under the Mennonite Conference; Floyd Schmucker was ordained as pastor. A basement church was built in 1944. In 1953 the membership was 17.
|Date Published||December 2016|
Cite This Article
Reesor-McDowell, Joanna. "Hagerman Mennonite Church (Markham, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. December 2016. Web. 10 Jul 2020. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Hagerman_Mennonite_Church_(Markham,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=143150.
Reesor-McDowell, Joanna. (December 2016). Hagerman Mennonite Church (Markham, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 10 July 2020, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Hagerman_Mennonite_Church_(Markham,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=143150.
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