Steckley, John Hoover (1826-1904)

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John Hoover Steckley: farmer, preacher and founder with Abraham Raymer and Christian Troyer Jr. of the New Mennonite Churches in York and Ontario Counties, Ontario, Canada that became the basis of Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada congregations in Gormley, Stouffville, Markham and Mt. Albert (Scott Township).

John Steckley was born 12 February 1826 on the family farm at Bethesda, Whitchurch Township, York County to Christian Steckley (1796-1831) and Veronica “Fanny” Hoover (1795-1859). John’s father was from Pennsylvania, his mother from Washington County, Maryland, USA. He was the fourth son of six children, all sons. John attended the public school available in the community and became an able writer. He married Sara Burkholder in Toronto on 12 November 1850. She was the daughter of Henry Burkholder (1790-1860) and Catherine Troyer (1794-1886). Catherine Troyer was a sister of Christian Troyer Junior. Sara was born 17 July 1830 in York County, and had 8 children, six daughters and two sons. John died on 17 May 1904, Sara in 1926. Both are buried at Dickson’s Hill Cemetery, Markham Township.

John Steckley’s family were associated with Mennonites in Whitchurch and Markham Townships. Their farm at a crossroad was listed as an appointment (“Stecklin”) of the Mennonite Conference of Canada once, in 1859. In his thirtieth year, however, John was converted under the evangelical revival preaching of Abraham Raymer, about 1856 or 7. By then Raymer was associating with Daniel Hoch’s New Mennonite Church of Canada West. John apparently never was a member of the Mennonite Conference. After his conversion, the Markham Dunkards (Brethren in Christ) invited him to join them. Instead, wanting a church with open communion, John and Sara became members of the New Mennonite Society.

John Steckley entered the New Mennonite ministry in 1860 and was ordained in 1863. The Markham Society listed Sara and John second after Abraham and Elizabeth Raymer in the minute book started in November 1864. In 1869, the Society chose John Steckley to obtain their first marriage register. The Markham New Mennonites met in a cluster of appointments centred on Dickson’s Hill, where their one meeting house had been constructed in 1863; Stouffville and Bethesda in Whitchurch; Edgeley in Vaughan Township; Altona in Pickering Township, Ontario County; plus other locations in York and Ontario Counties that arose from evangelistic activity of the preachers from time to time, such as Ringwood, Uxbridge and Mt Carmel. Steckley, who was on the committee producing the New Mennonite preaching plan some years, spoke in them all.

John Steckley was chair of the Markham New Mennonite semi-annual conference when they considered merging with Solomon Eby’s Reforming Mennonites in late 1874 and was a delegate to the merging conference in Bloomingdale, Waterloo County in March 1875. Under the United Mennonites (1875-1879) and then the Evangelical United Mennonite Discipline (1880), which Steckley helped to write with Solomon Eby and Benjamin Bowman, an itinerant stationing system was introduced that was hard for the older farmer-preachers of the New Mennonites with big families to accept, and Steckley stayed in Markham until 1882. With all but their youngest two children in adulthood, John and Sara entered the new system, serving The Twenty in Lincoln County with South Cayuga and Sherkston in Haldimand County (1882-1883); a circuit with John McNally in Nottawasaga Township in Simcoe County (1883-1884); as a conference-approved evangelist in 1884-1885; preacher for Berlin (Kitchener) (1885-1887); Berlin and Blair (1887-1888), again with McNally. From then on, John and Sara returned to Markham, and he was listed as a “helper” on the circuit, with others, until 1903.

John Steckley’s New Mennonites supported evangelical revivals. They preached for crisis conversions and demonstrative testifying. While the United Mennonites were seeking out other possible partners to join with, they were introduced to Wesleyan holiness teaching through camp meetings from 1880 onward. Steckley attended some of the early camp meetings in Indiana and Breslau, Ontario, and after some reluctance on his part, accepted the Wesleyan theology.

In semi-retirement, John Steckley would still go out and join protracted meetings as reported by the young minister in charge at Sunnidale Township, Simcoe Co, in 1891: “The third week...Eld. J. H. Steckley (one of our fathers in Israel) came along and preached for us two nights. He got blessed in holding up a full salvation. His presence...was much appreciated and had a good effect...” A month before, Steckley had preached three times for Noah Detweiler at Shrigley.

When the denomination started a magazine (the Gospel Banner) in 1878, John Steckley immediately supported it with letters, reports and articles. With John McNally from Blair, he provided a bridge between the New Mennonites and the Mennonite Brethren in Christ era that followed.


Author(s) Clare Fuller
Date Published October 2014

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MLA style

Fuller, Clare. "Steckley, John Hoover (1826-1904)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2014. Web. 24 Jun 2021.,_John_Hoover_(1826-1904)&oldid=126796.

APA style

Fuller, Clare. (October 2014). Steckley, John Hoover (1826-1904). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 June 2021, from,_John_Hoover_(1826-1904)&oldid=126796.

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