Nairn Mennonite Church (Ailsa Craig, Ontario, Canada)

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Nairn Mennonite Church, Ailsa Craig, Ontario
Source: Brian L. Shantz Ltd. website

The Nairn Mennonite Church, Ailsa Craig, Ontario, Canada, began in the winter of 1948 when several families from the Wellesley, Wilmot and East Zorra area with roots in the Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference bought farms in the Ailsa Craig area with the goal of establishing a mission church. They purchased the 1881 St. Andrew's Presbyterian church in Nairn, which had closed in 1947, with the assistance of the conference's mission board, and began worshipping there in 1948. Pastoral services were provided by the mission board until Wilfred Schlegel (1910-1978) was ordained as the first minister on 6 March 1949.

The entreprenuerial spirit of Wilfred Schlegel led the church to help innovate many programs, including: Craigwiel Gardens, a multi-level facility for seniors in Ailsa Craig, the London Rescue Mission and Valleyview Mennonite Church in London, Ontario, and the Ailsa Craig Boys' Farm (now Craigwood Youth Services).

In the 1980s it became evident the old church facility was no longer adequate. Because of the many levels of the building, ramping or elevators were not practical for providing barrier-free access. Then an invasion of bats became a concern, and inquiry about extermination revealed that it would be a major undertaking. Regretfully, tearing down the old church and building a new one became necessary. A new facility was dedicated on 1 December 1996.

In 2017 the congregation's vision statement read:

The Nairn congregation is being called by God to be a place where all people:

​are listened to and accepted
build relationships with Christ and one another;
have opportunities for meaningful worship and biblical teaching;
have opportunities for transformational growth.


"40-Nairn," Mennonites in Canada collection, Mennonite Archives of Ontario.

Arnel, Ruth. A Time of Change: Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Nairn Mennonite Church. Nairn, Ont.: Nairn Mennonite Church, 1973, 48 pp.

Gospel Herald (13 April 1948): 355; (7 September 1948): 845; (22 March 1949): 283; (21 February 1950): 184; (24 July 1956): 705.

Mennonite Reporter (10 July 1989): 9; (30 May 1994): 15; (17 October 1994): 15; (4 March 1996): 14; (3 February 1997): 17.

Meyer, Ruth Smith. "Nairn Mennonite turns 60." Canadian Mennonite 12, no. 16 (18 August 2008): 16.

"Our history." Nairn Mennonite Church. 2016. Web. 31 December 2016.

Archival Records

Church archival records at Mennonite Archives of Ontario.

Additional Information

Address: R.R. 1, Box 9, 26459 Bear Creek Side Rd., Ailsa Craig, ON N0M 1A0

Location: 4 km south of the town of Ailsa Craig

Phone: 519-232-4425


Denominational Affiliations:

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada

Mennonite Church Canada

Nairn Mennonite Church Membership

Year Members
1950 20
1965 83
1985 61
1995 59
2000 61
2011 59
2015 49
2020 55

Pastoral Leaders at Nairn Mennonite Church

Name Years
of Service
Wilfred Schlegel 1949-1972
Dan Zehr 1962-1965
Myron Schrag 1966-1967
Melvin Otterbein 1967-1969
John Brubacher 1970-1972
Ministry Team
(Wilfred Schlegel
Jim Helmuth
Nelson Scheifele)
David Brunner 1976-1983
Ephraim Gingerich 1983-1985
Karen James-Abra 1985-1990
Doris Gascho
Ephraim Gingerich
Mary Mae Schwartzentruber 1991-1997
Gordon Martin
Dennis Watts 1998-1999
Waldemar Regier
Paul Furseth
Gerry Vanderworp
David Friesen Waldner 2001-2008
Art Sheil 2008-September 2021
Ernie Harris 2017-present


Map:Nairn Mennonite Church (Ailsa Craig, Ontario, Canada)

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Wilfred Schlegel. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 807. All rights reserved.

Nairn Amish Mennonite Church, located three miles south of Ailsa Craig, and about 20 miles northwest of London, Middlesex County, Ontario, a member of the Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference, was organized in 1949 with 20 members under the leadership of Wilfred Schlegel. In 1947 the congregation bought a well-built Presbyterian church, seating capacity 350. In 1955 the membership was 63 with Wilfred Schlegel still serving as pastor.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published January 2017

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Nairn Mennonite Church (Ailsa Craig, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2017. Web. 3 Dec 2021.,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=172476.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (January 2017). Nairn Mennonite Church (Ailsa Craig, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 3 December 2021, from,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=172476.

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