First Mennonite Church (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
First Mennonite Church had its beginning during the 1930s when young Mennonite women came to Calgary to find employment as domestic workers in some of the well-to-to-homes. They gathered together wherever they could for fellowship. Eventually the women were joined by a number of families. The congregation began services in July 1944 under the auspices of the Conference of Mennonites in Alberta. The work was taken over by the General Conference in 1945 with John J. Sawatsky from Carstairs as leader. The former Scarboro United Church building was purchased in 1945 and Scarboro Mennonite Mission was formally organized in 1946.
Between 1948 and 1952 there was a great surge of growth as immigrants came after the war, young couples moved into the city, and retired farmers came to make their homes here. In 1948 a Mädchenheim was established in the home of the pastor, which continued to operate until 1955. The building in which the congregation worshiped became too small and a new one was built on Richmond Road. The Sunday School developed and grew, large choirs filled the front of the sanctuary every Sunday, and three women's groups were active. It was a vibrant congregation.
In 1955 the congregation became independent and in 1957 it changed its name to First Mennonite Church. The 1950s and 1960s were times of internal power struggles and conflict over the language issue. The older, original residents were interested in making a transition to English whereas recent post-World War II immigrants wanted to retain the German. Consequently First Mennonite lost members to Foothills Mennonite over the language issue.
In 1965, Jacob Wiebe became the first hired pastor, but a large contingent of lay pastors were included in the ministerial team. Ministerial candidates were chosen from the congregation, one of whom, Peter Heidebrecht, was later ordained as Aeltester. The congregation experienced some cycles of growth and decline as conflicts and differences arose.
In 1997, Ken Bechtel led the congregation through a period of evaluation, reassessment, and transition to ultimate new growth.
Canadian Mennonite (25 June 1968); (25 May 2009): 14; (12 July 2010).
Dick, C. L. The Mennonite Conference of Alberta: A History of its Churches and Institutions. Edmonton: The Mennonite Conference of Alberta, 1981: 147 pp.
Klassen, Irene. "Calgary First Mennonite Church: History." 2001. http://calgary1st.mennonitechurch.ab.ca/about.htm (accessed 23 September 2009).
Mennonite Reporter (25 November 1996): 11.
Address: 2600 Richmond Rd. SW, Calgary, AB T3E 4M3
Website: First Mennonite Church Calgary
Mennonite Church Alberta (1950-present)
Conference of Mennonites in Canada / Mennonite Church Canada (1946-present)
General Conference Mennonite Church (1947-1999)
First Mennonite Church Calgary Leading Ministers
|John J. Sawatzky||1944-1958|
|John J. Sawatzky||1961-1962|
First Mennonite Church Calgary Membership
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 437. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Sawatzky, John J. and Marlene Epp. "First Mennonite Church (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 1989. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/F563.html.
APA style: Sawatzky, John J. and Marlene Epp. (February 1989). First Mennonite Church (Calgary, Alberta, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/F563.html.