Steinbach Mennonite Brethren Church (Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada)

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Steinbach Mennonite Brethren Church, 1951.
Creator: Henry J. Wiens (1885-1975)
Digitized by Hiebert Library. Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies
Steinbach MB Church, ca. 2008
Source: Church website

The Steinbach Mennonite Brethren congregation at Steinbach, Manitoba began services in 1926, and formally organized in 1927. Until 1927 the group worshipped together with the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren. Gerhard H. Unruh is considered the founding leader of the group. The congregation was founded by recent Mennonite Brethren immigrants from the Soviet Union.

The group first met in the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren church, but then purchased and remodeled an old school. A lot was purchased in 1942, but a church could not be built as building materials were in short supply because of World War II. The new sanctuary was completed in 1947. In 1957 and 1970, the building was enlarged. In 1978, the adjacent lot was bought for possible expansion and parking.

About two dozen people decided to form another separate independent congregation, and in 1983 the Community Fellowship Church began. Not many years later, another new sanctuary was completed, in 1987. But a badly needed new Christian education wing, multi-functional gym, library, and office area was only begun in 2003.

Lay preachers had led the congregation until 1967, when John D. Reimer (served 1967–1974) became the church’s first full-time pastor. (During his tenure, German messages ceased to be heard in the church.) He was succeeded by Jake Falk (served 1974–1984), Bill Lehman (1985–1990) and John Block (1990–1995). It would be three years before the church would have another full-time pastor, and five years before they would have someone who would serve for longer than a year and a half.

Keith Poysti was interim pastor from 1995 to 1996. He was instrumental in helping the church articulate a vision for the future. Norm Neufeld began his pastoral ministry to SMBC in 1998 but died early in 2000 after a short illness. Scott Koop, the church’s first salaried youth pastor, served from 1997 to 2001.

After five years without a long-term pastor, the church called Abe Klassen to lead them, which he did from 2000 to 2008. Mike Kehler began serving as Pastor of Youth and Family Life in 2004. When Charlie Peronto came on board as the Pastor of Student Ministries in 2008, Pastor Mike shifted his attention to small groups and family life. Charlie resigned in 2011 and Pastor Mike, in 2013. Both worked alongside Pastor Walter Fast for a few years.

Walter Fast was called from Germany in 2009 to fill the lead pastor position vacated by Abe Klassen in the previous year. He and his wife Anne were formally commissioned on September 13, 2009. Bobby Klassen stepped into the Pastor of Student Ministries role after Charlie's departure in 2011, serving until 2018. Kelby Friesen joined the staff in the new role of Pastor of Community Life on August 15, 2018. Stefan Klassen began as Pastor of Student Ministries in the summer of 2020, as the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was receding.


Harder, Leland. Steinbach and Its Churches. Elkhart, IN: Mennonite Biblical Seminary, 1970, 109 pp.

Mennonite Brethren Herald (27 May 1988): 41.

Mennonites in Canada Collection, "70-Steinbach," Mennonite Archives of Ontario.

Steinbach Mennonite Brethren Church. "A Brief History of the Steinbach Mennonite Brethren Church." Web. 14 June 2021.

Süss, Lenora. "A Short History of the Steinbach Mennonite Brethren Church 1927-1985." Web. 14 June 2021.

Archival Records

Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies (Winnipeg, MB): Volumes 436–438.

Additional Information

Mailing Address: Box 1930, Steinbach, MB R0A 2A0

Location: 340 2nd Street (and Lumber Avenue), Steinbach, MB

Phone: 204-326-3551

Website: Steinbach Mennonite Brethren Church

Denominational Affiliations:

Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba (1943-present)

Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (1927-present)

General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (until 2002)

Steinbach MB Church Leading Ministers

Minister Years
George Unruh 1927-1933
Abr. A. Regehr 1934-1942
Jacob H. Epp 1943-1952
H. A. Regehr 1953-1964
Peter Martens 1965-1966
John D. Reimer 1967-1974
Jake Falk 1974-1984
F. W. (Bill) Lehman 1985-1990
John Block 1990-1995
Keith Poysti (interim) 1995-1996
Norm Neufeld 1998-2000
Walter Reimer (interim) 2000
Abe Klassen 2000-2008
Walter Fast 2009-present

Steinbach MB Church Membership

Year Members
1950 218
1965 269
1985 285
1995 288
2000 314
2010 407

Author(s) J. Wedel
Marlene Epp
Date Published March 2012

Cite This Article

MLA style

Wedel, J. and Marlene Epp. "Steinbach Mennonite Brethren Church (Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2012. Web. 26 May 2024.,_Manitoba,_Canada)&oldid=171619.

APA style

Wedel, J. and Marlene Epp. (March 2012). Steinbach Mennonite Brethren Church (Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 May 2024, from,_Manitoba,_Canada)&oldid=171619.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 625. All rights reserved.

©1996-2024 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.