Weber, Magdalena (1881-1974)

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Magdalena “Lena” Weber: church, mission and service worker, was born 15 July 1881 near Kurtzville, Ontario, Canada to Menno Weber (6 January 1858-2 October 1934) and Sarah Ann (Knipe) Weber (28 November 1859-16 September 1943), the second of ten children, five boys and five girls. After Lena started school, the family moved to Waterloo and joined Waterloo Mennonite Church (later Erb Street Mennonite). In October 1924, a significant number of congregants separated from Kitchener's First Mennonite and founded Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church with Urias K. Weber, Lena's older brother, as its minister. About 18 months later, Lena and her husband, Irvin B. Weber whom she had married in December 1908, transferred their membership to the new congregation. Lena and Irvin had three sons. Lena died on 23 September 1974 and is buried in the Erb Street Mennonite Church cemetery.

Before her marriage, Lena served for one year at the Faith, Hope and Charity Mission (Toronto Mission), a new venture of the Mennonite Conference of Ontario in cooperation with the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities in Elkhart, Indiana. The mission opened on 1 March 1907 on Tate Street, a depressed area of the city. Lena took charge of the primary Sunday school with its 29 children. The mission's “Fresh Air Work” sent city children to rural host families, including Waterloo County farms. Seeing that the children were poorly dressed, Waterloo women sewed new clothes for them. Lena's mother hosted the first sewing bee. This gathering led to formalizing a monthly “Charity Circle” in April 1908, the first of its kind in Ontario. Lena, back in Waterloo, was named secretary-treasurer. The women received Bishop Jonas Snider's blessing despite opposition from some congregants – even other women - who believed a female group should not be involved in church work.

Lena continued to support the mission in Toronto after her marriage. Her home was the center of much activity and service, including preserving produce from her large garden and sending it to the mission as well as to the city orphanage.

At the new Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, Lena taught Sunday school and offered her ability and productivity as a seamstress to the Women's Missionary Society (WMS), a priority service for her. She taught a class on sewing boys' pants and she sewed quilts, dresses and clothing for relief during the war years. In 1944, Lena and her sister sewed 245 boys' shirts for relief. After her many years of work, the WMS elected Lena as vice-president in 1942 and president in 1944.

At a celebration of 60 years of women's work at Erb Street Mennonite Church in October 1968, Lena Weber, a charter member of the Charity Circle, was a special guest. She was pleased that her work in the early years was remembered and valued. Those with whom she served remember Lena as even-tempered, an up-to-date thinker, generous giver, and for her godly conversations and beautiful public prayers.


Kessler, Karl. Path of a People: Erb Street Mennonite Church 1851 – 2001. Erb Street Mennonite Church, Waterloo, Ontario 2001.

"Menno Weber." From Pennsylvania to Waterloo: a Biographical History of Waterloo Township. Web. (accessed 2 January 2015).

Roth, Lorraine. Willing Service: Stories of Ontario Mennonite Women. Waterloo, ON: Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario, 1992.

Author(s) Ferne Burkhardt
Date Published January 2015

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Burkhardt, Ferne. "Weber, Magdalena (1881-1974)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2015. Web. 9 Aug 2020.,_Magdalena_(1881-1974)&oldid=135296.

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Burkhardt, Ferne. (January 2015). Weber, Magdalena (1881-1974). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 9 August 2020, from,_Magdalena_(1881-1974)&oldid=135296.

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