Warkentin, Henry (1923-2017)

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Henry Warkentin: minister and conference worker; born to Peter and Tina Warkentin in Gorshakowo, Ufa, Russia on 6 April 1923. Henry married Helen Neufeld from Yarrow, British Columbia, Canada, on 10 July 1947, with whom he had five children: Ruth, Carl, Doris, Paul and Kerri. Helen was his ministry partner. In March of 1991, after 44 years of marriage, family and ministry life, Helen died of cancer, shortly after their move back to British Columbia in 1990. In the fall of 1992 Henry married Nettie Tiessen (3 June 1925, Warman, Saskatchewan, Canada - 1 July 2023, Chilliwack, BC), a missionary friend of 43 years from Guadeloupe. They enjoyed 24 years of marriage in Chilliwack, until Henry’s death on 22 July 2017 at age 94. Henry was a cancer survivor and was legally blind due to macular degeneration from 1998 on. Nettie, his faithful wife and caregiver, made it possible for them to continue an active public life together in spite of their challenges.

Peter and Tina Warkentin and their family left the Soviet Union for Canada in 1926 with stops in Mexico, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta before settling in British Columbia in 1934. Henry was raised as an only child, since his two siblings died as infants. Henry made his personal commitment to follow Christ at age 11 and was baptized at 16 in the South Abbotsford Mennonite Brethren Church. After high school he was conscripted into the army where he served as a Conscientious Objector in the Forestry Camps and the Army Medical Corp. Henry’s ministry calling became clear to him during his years in the army where he had preaching and ministry opportunities.

In preparation for a life of ministry Henry completed five years at the Elim Bible School Yarrow, BC in 1942, graduated from the Mennonite Brethren Bible College (MBBC), Winnipeg in 1950, He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Western University in London, Ontario and received his Bachelor of Divinity at the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary in 1959. Henry’s ministry began with serving five years in the Elim Bible School, three of which he served as principal. He also taught at the Sharon Mennonite Collegiate in 1953-54 and at the East Chilliwack Mennonite Brethren Bible School in 1956.

Henry’s life is known for his years in children’s ministry, conference involvements and pastoral assignments. For the years 1950-56 Warkentin gave leadership to the West Coast Children’s Mission (WCCM), which annually involved some 1,500 children and 90 workers in 40 different community schools. While doing the WCCM work in summer, Henry taught in the Elim Bible School and other area schools in winter.

The Mennonite Brethren Churches that Henry pastored were Leamington Mennonite Brethren Church in Leamington, Ontario, 1959-64, Broadway Mennonite Brethren Church in Chilliwack, British Colunbia, 1964-76, Watrous Mennonite Brethren Church in Watrous, Saskatchewan 1976-81, Starnberg, Germany, 1981-85 and then back to Watrous for 1985-90. Henry and his wife returned to Chilliwack for their retirement and part-time ministry after their second term in Watrous. Participating in evangelism crusades, area ministerial organizations, and community activity was Henry’s idea of public ministry.

Henry was a staunch supporter of Mennonite Brethren Conference Ministries, at both the provincial and national levels. He was involved on the Church Extension Boards in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario, frequently serving as chair. On the national level he chaired the Canada Inland Mission (CIM) and also served on the MBBC Board. Warkentin’s conference work in Quebec had its beginnings when he was doing his Bachelor of Divinity dissertation at the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, 1959 which involved research on the work and presence of Protestant churches in Quebec. This research resulted in the launch of the Quebec MB Church planting program in 1961, under the leadership of Ernest and Lydia Dyck, former missionaries in the Belgian Congo.

Henry Warkentin is remembered for his outreach leadership, radiant smile, peacemaking, passionate preaching, strong faith, and prayer life.


"Henry Warkentin." Obituary, The Chilliwack Progress (July 22, 2017).

Penner, Peter. No Longer at Arms Length: Mennonite Brethren Church Planting in Canada. Winnipeg: Kindred Press, 1987. Available in full electronic text at: https://archive.org/stream/NoLongerAtArmsLengthMBChurchPlantingInCanadaOCRopt?ref=ol#mode/2up.

Penner, Peter. Reaching the Otherwise Unreached: An Historical Account of the West Coast Children’s Mission of BC. Clearbrook: WCCM, 1959.

Warkentin, Henry. My Mother’s Prayers have Followed Me: Memoirs of Henry Warkentin (1923-2000). Self-published.

Author(s) James Nikkel
Date Published March 2018

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Nikkel, James. "Warkentin, Henry (1923-2017)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2018. Web. 12 Apr 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Warkentin,_Henry_(1923-2017)&oldid=176288.

APA style

Nikkel, James. (March 2018). Warkentin, Henry (1923-2017). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 12 April 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Warkentin,_Henry_(1923-2017)&oldid=176288.

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