Old Colony Mennonite Church of Manitoba

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The Old Colony Mennonite Church of Manitoba was officially organized and founded in 1936 with people who had not immigrated to Mexico with the leaders of the Reinländer Mennonite Church.

Old Colony Mennonites immigrated into Canada from Russia in 1875. In 1922 the majority of the church membership of this group, then in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, immigrated into Mexico, including most of the clergy. In 1927 the Reinläender Mennonite Church which had been founded in 1875, officially ceased to exist in Canada. Occasional services were still held by those ministers who had not moved to Mexico, and by ministers from Sommerfelder churches. Later, two ministers who remained in Canada arranged a meeting with the members. They were John Loeppky and Abram Wall, both from the Osler, Saskatchewan area. At this meeting, several of the Manitoba leaders also took part. The meeting was held on 20 March 1930 with Bishop Cornelius Hamm of the Bergthaler Church officiating. Johann Loeppky was elected and ordained as Bishop, and the reorganized church took on the name: "The Old Colony Mennonite Church." After this 1930 meeting Bishop Loeppky came to Manitoba once or twice a year to serve with baptism and communion.

In 1936 the members in Manitoba reorganized to form the Old Colony Mennonite Church of Manitoba. The first clergy election was held 25 June 1936. Jacob Rempel, Jakob Froese, and Peter Harms were elected as ministers. A second election was held on 10 November 1936, where Abram Janzen, Peter Zacharias, and Jakob F. Penner were also elected as ministers. Additional ministes were elected in subsequent years.

Winkler area towns in Southern Manitoba

The first worship house was in the church building in the village of Chortitz, which had been used by the Reinlaender Mennonite Church from 1881 till the time of the migration to Mexico 1922-1926. The original building was replaced with a new structure in 1967, and eventually the first worship house was moved to the Steinbach Heritage Village. A second meeting place was inaugurated 7 November 1937 in Rosetown, Manitoba. A third meeting place began in Blumenfeld where a building was inaugurated 20 October 1938. A fourth meeting place started when the former school in Reinfeld was remodeled. This meeting place was inaugurated 29 September 1957.

The leadership structure of the Old Colony Mennonite Church consists a ministerial body which presents the sermons and is also the governing body that sets policy direction for the membership. The ministerial body consists of the bishop, who is the head of the church, the ministers, and the deacon. The ministers and deacons are elected from the men of the church, and the bishop is elected from the ministerial. The term of office is for as long as the person is capable, and he remains true and faithful to God's word and the Church. There is no salary paid to any ministerial member.

When preaching, the ministers wear black suits and long coats. There are no musical instruments in the Old Colony Mennonite Churches. Singing is usually led by three or more song leaders who lead out in singing. In 2004 the churches used German and some English. The men and women sit on separate sides during the church service. Financial needs are met through voluntary giving when the collectors drive around once a year and personally visit the membership. Special collections are also held for various projects as needed.

Sunday schools have been operated by the Old Colony Mennonites in Manitoba since the 1940s. Classes are held during the regular worship services. The youth also meet on Wednesday evenings. Many Old Colony children attend public schools, while others are home schooled using Christian Light Education curriculum published in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Some also attend private schools operated by committees consisting of Old Colony, Reinländer, and Sommerfelder people. In 2000 the three private schools were the Valley Mennonite Academy in Chortitz, Grace Valley Academy in Gnadenfeld, and Prairie Mennonite Academy south of Plum Coulee.

In 2003 the Old Colony Mennonite Church of Manitoba divided. The larger, more conservative of the two groups that resulted from the division adopted the name German Old Colony Mennonite Church (Deutsche Alt-Kolonie Mennonitengemeinde), while the smaller group retained the original name. The smaller group of around 500 members in three congregations adopted some practices, such as using English in church services, that the larger more conservative group would not accept.

In 1939 the baptized membership was 390 with a total of 1,060 souls. In 2001 the baptized membership was 1,070 with a total of 2,125 souls.


Elias, Jacob J. "Old Colony Mennonite Church History and Statistics." November 2003 (received from an Old Colony Minister and deposited at Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives, Winnipeg, MB.

Kraybill, Donald B. Concise Encyclopedia of Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010: 154-155, 233.

Rempel, Abe E. "Background on the Old Colony Mennonite Church Today, in Canada and Latin America, focusing on its strengths and weakness." 1991 (presentation by a minister of the Old Colony Mennonite Church of Manitoba at the request of Mennonite Central Commitee Canada for the 2 January 1991 consultation of mission board representatives).

Rempel, Abraham E. "Old Colony Church in Manitoba." Old Colony Mennonites in Canada: 1875 to 2000, edited by Delbert F. Pett. Steinbach, MB: Crossway Publications, 2001: 139-141.

Rempel, Abraham E. "Old Colony Church in Manitoba, 1875-2000." Heritage Posting: Newsletter of the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society 30 (September 2000): 3.

Additional Information

Address: P. O. Box 271, Winkler, MB R6W4A5

Old Colony Mennonite Church (Manitoba) Leaders (as of January 2004)

Service Record of Bishops, ministers and deacons of the Old Colony Mennonite Church (Manitoba)
Name Life dates Office(s) Dates of Service Comments
Jakob Froese 1885-1968 bishop 1937-1968  
Jakob F. Penner 1898-1974 bishop 1959-1974  
John P. Wiebe 1921- bishop 1975-  
Peter Elias 1950- bishop 2001-  
David Driedger 1884-1973 deacon 1939-1970  
Abram Driedger 1917-1991 deacon 1964-1991  
Henry K. Wiebe 1946- deacon 1991-2002  
Peter Penner   deacon 2003-  
Jakob Froese 1885-1968 minister 1936-1937 Became bishop
Jakob F. Penner 1898-1974 minister 1936-1959 Became bishop
Peter Zacharias 1877-1950 minister 1936-late 1940s  
Johan Friesen 1897-1983 minister 1937-1983  
Jakob Goertzen 1893-1968 minister 1939-1948 Moved to Mexico
Jacob Wiebe 1906-1984 minister 1943-1980 Left to form Zion Mennonite Church
Jacob Neudorf 1922- minister 1954-1961 Discontinued due to differences
John P. Wiebe 1921- minister 1954-1975 Became bishop
Jacob J. Elias 1924- minister 1964-  
Abram I. Fehr 1919- minister 1964-2000  
Wilhelm Thiessen 1938- minister 1975-1980 Left to form Zion Mennonite Church
Abram Rempel 1942- minister 1975-2003 Left to form a new church in Rosetown
Abram Wiebe 1938- minister 1981-  
Henry Rempel 1953- minister 1981-  
Peter Elias 1950- minister 1991-2001 Became bishop
Herman Bueckert   minister 2000-  
John Wiebe   minister 2000-  
Henry Elias   minister 2003-  
Peter Penner 1952- deacon 2003-  

Author(s) Alf Redekopp
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published February 2012

Cite This Article

MLA style

Redekopp, Alf and Richard D. Thiessen. "Old Colony Mennonite Church of Manitoba." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2012. Web. 24 Jun 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Old_Colony_Mennonite_Church_of_Manitoba&oldid=170098.

APA style

Redekopp, Alf and Richard D. Thiessen. (February 2012). Old Colony Mennonite Church of Manitoba. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 June 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Old_Colony_Mennonite_Church_of_Manitoba&oldid=170098.

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