Roth, Moses H. (1898-1978)

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Barbara & Moses Roth, early 1960s. Family photo

Moses H. Roth: bishop and farmer; born 1 February 1898 in Oxford County, Ontario, Canada to Rudolph "Rudy" Roth (10 December 1868-1 March 1943) and Lavina (Hostetler) Roth (7 August 1873-24 April 1927). He was the fourth child in a family of four boys and two girls. On 7 February 1923 he married Barbara Martin (3 April 1901-1 May 1991). They had one daughter, Gladys. Moses died on 24 December 1978, in New Hamburg, Ontario.

Moses farmed near New Hamburg, and was reasonably prosperous. It is said that Milo Shantz, prominent Waterloo County entrepreneur, got his first loan from his uncle, Moses.

Prior to his ordination, Moses Roth served regularly as Sunday school superintendent at Biehn Mennonite Church (now Nith Valley) near New Hamburg. In 1931 he was ordained minister to assist Ozias Cressman, at Geiger Mennonite Church (now Wilmot Mennonite Church). He was ordained bishop in the Mennonite Conference of Ontario in 1937 serving primarily at Geiger Mennonite Church but also in such places as Poole, Ontario (1949-1959) and Clarence Center, New York.

Moses believed strongly in missions. He planted the seed for the beginning of the London Rescue Mission and Nairn Mennonite Church through his teaching at a winter Bible school in Wellesley, Ontario. He was a long-time summer Bible school superintendent at the Baden mission. He gave supervision to such mission outposts as Markstay and Minden.

In the mid to late 1950s Moses became increasingly alarmed by what he saw as apostasy in the Ontario conference with the acceptance of the wedding ring, sisters in the church cutting their hair, and a weakening of dress restrictions. In 1959, Moses, along with Curtis Cressman (bishop), preachers Elmer Grove and Moses Baer, and deacons Andrew Axt and Clarence Huber withdrew from Ontario Conference and organized the New Hamburg Conservative Mennonite Church. This was the beginning of what became the Conservative Mennonite Church of Ontario and Midwest Mennonite Fellowship, together having approximately 2000 members (2013).

By the end of 1960, Moses began a second congregation in Heidelburg, the location of which changed in 1983 to Hawkesville and was renamed Countryside Mennonite Fellowship. Moses served as bishop at Heidelburg until 1968 when he withdrew his oversight due to difficulties in the congregation. Prior to his death in 1978, he made peace with the congregation and preached for them again at least once. From 1968 to 1978, Moses pastored a small independent Mennonite congregation at Crosshill for a year or so, and then a second congregation at Ethel.

In his ministry, Moses Roth earned a reputation for having the gift of healing as he prayed for the sick and anointed them with oil.

Moses was present on 16 February 1954 at the last hanging at the Stratford jail. Moses visited Reuben Norman, who was convicted of murder, in prison and led him to repentance.

Moses’ wife, Barbara, regularly served as children’s Sunday school superintendent and faithfully stood by her husband in his duties. Moses and Barbara Roth are buried at the Nith Valley Mennonite Church cemetery.


Albrecht, Elenore. A History of the Poole Mennonite Church: a People on the Way. Poole, Ont.: The Church, 1986.

"Barbara R. Martin." Waterloo County Connections. Web. (accessed 25 July 2013).

"Bishop Moses Roth." Waterloo Region Generations. Web. (accessed 25 July 2013).

Burkholder, L. J. A Brief History of the Mennonites in Ontario: Giving a Description of Conditions in Early Ontario, the Coming of the Mennonites into Canada, Settlements, Congregations, Conferences, Other Activities, and Nearly 400 Ordinations; 100 Pictures of Men and Churches. Ontario: Mennonite Conference of Ontario, 1935.

Countryside Mennonite Fellowship Church, Hawkesville, Ontario: 30th Anniversary, 1960-1990. Hawkesville, Ont.: The Church 1990?.

Roth, Alvin. "The Beginnings of Mission Services in London, Ontario." Mennogespräch 9, no. 1 (March 1991): 1.

Author(s) Howard Bean
Date Published July 2013

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bean, Howard. "Roth, Moses H. (1898-1978)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2013. Web. 3 Dec 2022.,_Moses_H._(1898-1978)&oldid=135364.

APA style

Bean, Howard. (July 2013). Roth, Moses H. (1898-1978). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 3 December 2022, from,_Moses_H._(1898-1978)&oldid=135364.

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