Portage Mennonite Church (Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada)
In 1977 three couples in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba longed for a church where they could express their Mennonite faith. They invited others to join them, and they began holding services in an unused Presbyterian facility. Initially the congregation grew quickly and reached a maximum of about 40 members. When the Presbyterian building was sold, they rented space from a Seventh Day Adventist group, and later purchased a former Christian and Missionary Alliance building.
The congregation formally organized in 1980, and began a practice of annual membership renewal on "Commitment Sunday" that continued to 2011.
Portage Mennonite Church, though small, had an active ministry, including helping to start and manage the local Mennonite Central Committee thrift shop and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. The congregation sponsored three refugee couples from Laos and Thailand during the 1980s. Within the congregation there was an active puppet ministry, and regular book and Bible studies. Portage Mennonite always had a close family atmosphere.
The church only had one paid minister who lived locally during its existence--Karen Schellenberg, who had been a member since 1993, agreed to serve part time in 2003 and continued to the end of 2010. Previously the pulpit was filled internally or by outside speakers. For several years Charleswood Mennonite Church sent speakers on a regular basis, followed by a series of part time pastors who commuted to Portage la Prairie from Winnipeg (a distance of about 90 km).
By 2012 the attendance had dropped significantly and it became difficult to maintain structure and program. The congregation held its last service on 1 July 2012.
Mennonite Reporter (3 December 1980): 9; (13 June 1983): 11.
Peters, David. "The Portage Mennonite Church: a congregational history." Research paper, Canadian Mennonite Bible College, 1982, 11 pp. Mennonite Heritage Centre.
Rempel Petkau, Evelyn. "Portage Mennonite Church closes." Canadian Mennonite 16, no. 16 (20 August 2012): 16.
Swystun, Rob. "Schellenberg leaves Portage Mennonite Church." The Daily Graphic. 3 January 2011. Web. 27 August 2012. http://www.portagedailygraphic.com/2010/12/23/schellenberg-leaves-portage-mennonite-church.
Membership at Portage Mennonite Church
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MLA style: Epp, Marlene and Sam Steiner. "Portage Mennonite Church (Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. August 2012. Web. 20 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/P6785.html.
APA style: Epp, Marlene and Sam Steiner. (August 2012). Portage Mennonite Church (Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/P6785.html.