Riverdale Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada)
|The Riverdale Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse, September 2012
Photos by Sam Steiner
The Riverdale Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse is located in Southgate Township, Grey County, Ontario, at 571316 Southgate Township Side Road 57, about five km. east of Mount Forest and north of Highway 89.
The Mount Forest area was first settled by Old Order Mennonites from Waterloo County, Ontario, in 1967, several years after the first farms were purchased in 1964. This movement to the Mount Forest area resulted from the expansion of urban areas of Waterloo County into the Old Order community, and the rising cost of agricultural land in Waterloo County.
As the Old Order settlement in the area grew, it eventually exceeded the capacity of the first meetinghouse (Spring Creek, on Concession 6 of what was then Arthur Township). Other meetinghouses (Farewell, Westdale, Cedarview) were built over the years to address this growth.
In 2001, Spring Creek members met to discuss the location for another new meetinghouse. The corner of Sideroad 10, Concession 8 was a possibility, though concerns were voiced about a steep hill with a narrow bridge at the bottom. It was decided to build the church on the south side of the hill so the horse and buggy traffic could avoid the hill. However, a 2.8-hectare (6.9 acres) farm went up for sale almost directly across from this site that better suited the community's needs, with natural windbreak and less landscaping. Melvin L. Martin bought the farm, and set aside about 0.8 hectares (2 acres) for the Riverdale meetinghouse, which was built during the summer of 2003. With the opening of this meetinghouse, services were now held in three of the eight church districts every Sunday in the Mount Forest area.
The Riverdale congregation's first deacon was actually ordained before the meetinghouse was built. On 28 May 2002, the Spring Creek congregation ordained Harvey Martin to assist Deacon Levi Frey. As Martin lived near the Riverdale location, he became the first deacon there when the meetinghouse was built. Lester Gingrich was ordained as minister for Riverdale on 4 November 2003. As is the practice in Old Order churches, they were both ordained by lot from within the congregation. Ordained persons are not paid for their church service.
When the Riverdale meetinghouse opened in 2003, there were 67 members. An accurate count of "members" is not always available because Old Order Mennonites think of themselves as members of the church at large and not just the immediate congregation. When people move from one geographical area to another, they automatically “belong” to the congregation whose meetinghouse is closest to their home. No membership transfer takes place from the former location.
Information from the church.
Table 1: Riverdale Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse Ordained Leaders
|4 November 2003-||Harvey Martin||28 May 2002-|
Table 2: Riverdale Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse Membership
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Streicher, Anita. "Riverdale Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 2005. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/R5916.html.
APA style: Streicher, Anita. (2005). Riverdale Old Order Mennonite Meetinghouse (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/R5916.html.