South Abbotsford Church (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada)

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South Abbotsford MB Church, 1936.
Source: MHSBC Archives F55-S10-2014.106.001
South Abbotsford MB Church, 1943.
Photo by Jack Lindsay, Vancouver News-Herald (9 December 1943).
Source: City of Vancouver Archives
South Abbotsford MB Church, ca. 1968.
Source: The Reach P22793
South Abbotsford MB Church, ca. 1985.
Source: MHSBC Archives.
South Abbotsford Church, Abbotsford, BC, 2007
Source: D. Giesbrecht

South Abbotsford Church has the distinction of being the first Mennonite Brethren (MB) church established in the Matsqui-Abbotsford area of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia. The church formally organized on 1 May 1932 as the Abbotsford Mennonite Brethren Church while meeting in the Poplar Farmers Institute Hall on Clearbrook Road north of Huntingdon Road (now Hughes Park). After the congregation divided into North Abbotsford MB Church and South Abbotsford MB Church in 1935, South Abbotsford built its first structure on the corner of Huntingdon and Gladwin Roads. The completed building was dedicated on 1 March 1936. Eventually, towers were added to the front of the church to allow for Sunday school rooms. The church experienced continued growth and the congregation purchased property on the corner of Huntingdon and Columbia Roads, where a newly constructed sanctuary was completed in October 1954. A dedication service was held on 10 October 1954. A subsequent building program in the 1990s resulted from an additional surge in attendance.

Abram D. Rempel is considered the founding leader of the group; he continued in office until 1945. Henry H. Nikkel followed Rempel as congregational leader. Other leaders prior to 1960 included Frank Janzen, Franz C. Thiessen, Jacob F. Redekop, Jacob Wedel, Jacob Bargen, Isaak Janzen, Herman Voth and John J. Stobbe.

The congregation’s members helped establish churches such as Matsqui Mennonite Brethren Church (1944), East Aldergrove Mennonite Brethren Church (1947), Otter Road Mennonite Brethren Church (1947), Central Heights Mennonite Brethren Church (1949), Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church (1966) and King Road Mennonite Brethren Church (1966), incurring a reduction in membership in the process.

Additionally, South Abbotsford sought to accommodate academic needs in the Fraser Valley. The congregation started South Abbotsford Bible School in 1936 under the leadership of Cornelius C. Peters. Classes were suspended in 1941, but the school restarted in 1943 and was called Bethel Bible School (later known as Mennonite Brethren Bible Institute, then Columbia Bible Institute, now Columbia Bible College), which met in the church facilities. Also, in 1944, the Mennonite Educational Institute was first housed in this church.

Another significant contribution of South Abbotsford is its ministry to the Indo-Canadian people residing in the vicinity.  David and Stella Manuel came to spearhead this ministry in 1980, although some church members had begun some work prior to their arrival.


Canadian Mennonite (8 October 1954): 1; (22 June 1956): 8; (24 November 1961): 15.

Mennonite Brethren Herald (6 February 1987): 14; (27 May 1988): 23; (11 August 1995): 20.

Stobbe, Abe J. South Abbotsford Mennonite Brethren Church: a history from 1932-1982. Abbotsford, BC: South Abbotsford Mennonite Brethren Church, 1982, 112 pp.

Willms, H. J. Die Sued-Abbotsford Ansiedlung, Abbotsford, B.C.: historischer Bericht. 1955, 55 pp.

Additional Information

Address: 32424 Huntingdon Rd., R.R.5, Abbotsford BC  V2T 5Z1

Phone: 604-853-2663

Website: South Abbotsford Church

Denominational Affiliations: British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (1935-present)

Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (1935-present)

General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches of North America

South Abbotsford Church Leading Ministers

Minister Years
Abram D. Rempel 1932-1934
Frank Janzen 1934-1935
Abram D. Rempel 1935-1944
Henry H. Nikkel 1944-1949
John J. Stobbe 1950-1959
William I. Neufeld 1959-1966
David Nickel 1966-1972
Don Balzer 1972-1980
Henry C. Born (interim) 1980-1981
David Epp 1981-1987
Clifford Janzen 1987-1996
Steve Berg 1997-2004
Ed Balzer (interim) 2004-2005
Dan Nicholson 2006–2014
Matt Ewert 2014-2022
Garth Borthistle (transitional) 2022-present

South Abbotsford Church Membership

Year Members Attendance
1932 31
1935 80
1940 255
1945 321
1950 500
1955 368
1960 374
1965 357
1970 275
1975 282
1980 323
1985 386
1990 392
1995 475
2000 683
2005 820
2010 631 625
2015 743 597
2020 782 300

Author(s) Henry H. Nikkel
Andrew Klager
Hugo Friesen
Date Published June 2023

Cite This Article

MLA style

Nikkel, Henry H., Andrew Klager and Hugo Friesen. "South Abbotsford Church (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2023. Web. 29 Sep 2023.,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=177364.

APA style

Nikkel, Henry H., Andrew Klager and Hugo Friesen. (June 2023). South Abbotsford Church (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 September 2023, from,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=177364.

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