Zoar Mennonite Church (Langham, Saskatchewan, Canada)
Mennonite families, mostly from Minnesota and some from Nebraska, Kansas and the Dakotas, settled in the Langham, Saskatchewan area at the beginning of the 20th century. They held services first in homes and then in the Carlson school. On 20 November 1910 fourteen families held an organizational meeting under the guidance of pastor Nicholas F. Toews, with Henry Wiebe as secretary. Toews had moved to the Langham area in 1909 under the direction of the Home Missions Committee of the General Conference Mennonite Church in North America, specifically to organize a church. The first communion service, at which deacons and trustees were appointed, was held in the Carson School on 27 November 1910. On 11 December 1910 the first baptism service was held and in 1911 a building at Langham was constructed and a pump organ was purchased. From its beginning the congregation paid their pastor a modest salary. In 1914 Toews' monthly salary was $47.50 and the congregation had a membership levy of $64.00. Toews served as pastor until May 1916 when he moved to North Dakota.
The name "Zoar" was chosen from Isaiah 15:5 signifying a place of refuge. The meeting house was built in the town of Langham on 1st Street with the dedication service held on 16 August 1911. Initially this Zoar congregation was in two districts; one in Langham and the other in the town of Waldheim. Though separated by a significant distance of over 40 km., the two districts had family and church ties from their similar origins in the USA. Each district had its own deacons and own building with Waldheim completing their building in 1912. In 1960 the Zoar congregation formally divided into two separate congregations in Langham and Waldheim with both retaining the name "Zoar."
In 1928 the church built a mortuary or "toten haus" for use by the entire community to preserve bodies properly until burial could take place. No other church in the area has such a facility. This practice ended in the 1940s and the facility was demolished in the 1970s. An expansion of the church building was carried out in 1943 and again in 1954 in part to accommodate members joining the Zoar Langham congregation following the closing in 1948 of the nearby rural Bethesda Mennonite Church. A final expansion and renovations occurred in 1974 with additions to the west and south.
Henry W. Wiebe, one of the founding members, ministered from 1915 to 1923 before moving to Delano, California. Beginning in 1923 Mennonites fleeing from the Soviet Union began arriving in the area and one of these was Johann G. Rempel who served as pastor from 1923 to 1935. In 1935 Rempel became a teacher at the Rosthern Bible School. In December 1944 Child Dedication was initiated by Jacob J. Nickel and a borrowed piano was used for music. For one school year, 1950/51, Nickel taught at the newly formed Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg during which the congregation was served by Gerhard Zacharias. In 1952 Nickel retired.
In 1952 the congregation built a parsonage in the town of Langham and Hans Dyck began service as pastor. After one year Dyck moved to Great Dear, Saskatchewan to resume his teaching career. Nickel briefly returned as pastor Henry A. Wiens began serving as pastor in 1954. In 1958 Zoar added Hammond organ.
Initially preaching was both in English and German, but with the arrival of the Mennonite immigrants from Russia in 1923 German became dominant. These new arrivals were unilingual German speakers and some had extensive formal Bible or seminary education. They also brought a different form of conservatism and they changed some of the American forms of worship to that of Russian Mennonites. In the 1940s use of English language increased, though some German was retained into the 1960s. The congregation has had a German Language scripture verse mounted on the front of the sanctuary "Ja, selig sind, die das Wort Gottes hören und bewahren (Luke 11:28)" [Blessed are they who hear the word of the Lord and obey it.]
In 1910 a women's group organized that continued to the present (2011). Jugendverein or Christian Endeavor was well established by 1918 with evening programs presented twice per month for many decades. In 1947 a young people’s fellowship group was organized and Men’s Brotherhood in 1957. Throughout its history the congregation placed much emphasis on choral music and the church was known as a singing church. Lydia Derksen edited a history book as part of the congregation’s 75th anniversary in July 1985 along with an anniversary plate and a commemorative cookbook. On the weekend of 16-18 July 2010 Zoar Langham celebrated its 100th anniversary.
In 1914 the Conference of Mennonites in Middle Canada met in Rosthern, Saskatchewan, where Zoar joined the Conference. Zoar affiliated with the General Conference of Mennonites at their 1917 conference in California and the congregation was a founding member in 1959 in the formation of the Conference of Mennonites of Saskatchewan. It had earlier belonged to the Saskatchewan Ministers and Deacons Conference.
Derksen, Lynda, et al. Our Heritage, Our Treasure: Zoar Mennonite Church, Langham, Saskatchewan, 1910-1985. Langham, SK: Zoar Mennonite Church, 1985, 108 pp.
Address: Box 285, 110 First Street East, Langham, SK S0K 2L0
Conference of Mennonites in Canada / Mennonite Church Canada (1914-present)
General Conference Mennonite Church (1911-1999)
Zoar Mennonite Church, Langham Leading Ministers
Zoar Mennonite Church, Langham Membership
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Wiebe, Victor. "Zoar Mennonite Church (Langham, Saskatchewan, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2011. Web. 20 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/Z637.html.
APA style: Wiebe, Victor. (June 2011). Zoar Mennonite Church (Langham, Saskatchewan, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/Z637.html.