Waters Mennonite Church (Lively, Ontario, Canada)

Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Waters Mennonite Church had its origins through a vision Thomas Martin had one night in the early 1940s on his farm in Erbsville, Ontario. In the vision he was called to mission work in Northern Ontario. Thomas, Elvina and their two children moved to Markstay, Ontario in 1945. Soon he began to explore possibilities in the area around Sudbury, and began holding Sunday school and Vacation Bible School in various locations beginning in 1946.

In 1948 the Martins and Mahlon and Norma Bast moved to Waters Township (now in the Sudbury Regional Municipality). They began a Sunday school, as well as morning and evening worship services in a local public school. A building fund committee was established in May 1952 and the name Waters Mennonite Church was selected. In 1955 the congregation received notice it could no longer rent the public school, and so work began immediately on building the basement for a larger building that could be used for a time as the meeting place. The remainder of the building was completed in 1963.

This early mission effort was modestly supported by the Mennonite Mission Board of Ontario. However most of the Waters group was not comfortable with the hierarchical conference polity and the requirement that baptized women needed to wear a prayer veil. In 1956 the congregation switched its affiliation from the Mennonite Conference of Ontario to the United Mennonite conference and the Conference of Mennonites in Canada. The Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener became an important relationship for the small Waters group. This led to a series of pastoral leaders from a "Russian Mennonite" background.

Waters Mennonite Church became an independent congregation on 7 June 1959, with 20 charter members. From the beginning the congregation had a multi-cultural feel, with members from various Mennonite and non-Mennonite cultural streams.

In the 1970s the congregation became engaged with Rockhaven, a home for men recovering from substance abuse. It had been sponsored by the Inter-Mennonite Mission and Service Board, and Dick Neufeld, the founding director was actively engaged at Waters.

The 1980s faced the Waters congregation with some difficult issues. One was the matter of women in leadership. The question of having a female deacon was discussed throughout the decade; it was only in 1989 that Aldene Forbeck became the first woman to serve as deacon. Several years later, a daughter of the congregation, Anna-Lisa Salo, became the pastor.

The Waters Mennonite Church has always been a small congregation. In its 2009 history book, it described the Waters story as "one of courage, vision, persistence and shared ministry."


Canadian Mennonite (21 March 1958): 3; (18 April 1958): 3; (22 May 1959): 1; (31 May 1963): 1.

Mennonite Reporter (18 September 1989): B3.

Article in Sudbury Star re: church dedication in 1963.

Salo, Karen. "Waters Mennonite Church." 1976, 59 pp. Mennonite Heritage Centre

Steven, Laurence, ed. Casting our bread : a history of Waters Mennonite Church 1959-2009. Lively, Ont. : The Church, 2009, 81 pp.

Unpublished congregational history, 1978, 24 pp. Mennonite Heritage Centre.

Archival Records

Records at the church.

Additional Information

Address: 540 Regional Rd 55, Lively On. P3Y 1C4. The church is located sixteen km west of Sudbury on Regional Rd. 55.

Phone: (705) 692-7655

Website: Waters Mennonite Church

Denominational Affiliations:

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada Conference

Mennonite Church Canada

Waters Mennonite Church Pastors

Name Years
of Service
Thomas Martin 1949-1954
Tilman Martin 1954-1955
Henry Schroeder (Informal) 1955-1957
Menno Ediger 1957-1964
Gary Harder 1965-1967
John Zacharias 1967-1982
Dennis Watts 1983-1992
Lay leaders 1992-1993
Anna-Lisa Salo 1993-1998
David Nicol 1998-2013
Celeste Wright 2013-2014
Lay leaders 2014-present

Waters Mennonite Church Members

Year Members
1965 33
1975 57
1985 53
1995 53
2000 46
2008 29
2015 21


Map:Waters Mennonite Church (Lively, Ontario, Canada)

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published January 2017

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Waters Mennonite Church (Lively, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2017. Web. 10 May 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Waters_Mennonite_Church_(Lively,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=165423.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (January 2017). Waters Mennonite Church (Lively, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 10 May 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Waters_Mennonite_Church_(Lively,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=165423.

©1996-2021 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.