In 1988 the Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference of Ontario (EMMCO) wondered if it would be possible to start a Low German speaking church in the Blenheim area. Pastors Ed Stoesz (Aylmer), Dave Friesen and John Reimer (both of Bell Mill Gospel Church) canvassed the area to learn where Low German speaking people attended church.
Dave and Helen Friesen began song services (Singstunde) in homes; after several weeks discussion began on the possibility of Sunday morning services. The group rented the Guilds Community Hall for 4 June 1989; 70 people attended that first service. The Morpeth Community Hall was rented in subsequent weeks, with 50 to 75 persons worshiping regularly. The Morpeth United Church offered their church basement for services in May 1990, and later offered their sanctuary.
In July 1989 Richard and Elizabeth Hamm drove 190 km from Houghton Centre each Sunday to lead the Morpeth group. Isaac and Sara Unger and Jake and Edith Peters from the Leamington Evangelical Mennonite Mission Church also came to assist. In October 1989 Frank and Neta Thiesen of Winnipeg, Manitoba came for "three months" to be a local presence for the Low German speaking Mennonites in the area.
In October 1991 the congregation purchased the old Harwich Township Hall at 117 McGregor Street in Blenheim for $60,000. The group renovated the building and took on the name Blenheim Mennonite Church.
In July 1992, Isaac and Lynne Harms moved to Blenheim to take the first pastoral position as missionaries of the Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference. The congregation steadily grew to over 80 persons. Fire regulations limited the number of persons who could be in this building so the search for a suitable building resumed. The former Glad Tidings Church on Catherine Street was attractive, but when the building had been first explored in 1989, the purchase price was too high for the group. However negotiations between the EMMC and the Glad Tidings representatives resulted in a more favorable price. In September 1993, the Blenheim Mennonite Church moved to the 428 Catherine Street location in Blenheim. The cost of the building was met by September 2002, with a mortgage burning ceremony on Thanksgiving Day, 2002. This debt retirement allowed the congregation to give financial support to its pastor, with some continuing subsidy from the conference.
In March 2002 the congregation changed from Low German and High German to a mixture of German and English. This accommodated the children who better understood English. In 2003 the first half of the service was in German, and the second half in English, with sermons in both languages.
EMMC Recorder (June/July 1989): 1; (May/June 2011): 13.
Harms, Lynne and Anna Klassen. History of the Blenheim Mennonite Church 1989 -1999. Blenheim, ON : The Congregation, 1999. Written for the 10th Anniversary of the Blenheim Mennonite Church.
Mennonite Reporter (31 July 1989): 19.
Blenheim Mennonite Church Pastoral Leaders
|Franz Wieler and Peter Neufeld (interim)||2010-2011|
Blenheim Mennonite Church Membership
|Date Published||July 2011|
Cite This Article
Harms, Isaac. "Blenheim Mennonite Church (Blenheim, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2011. Web. 1 Dec 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Blenheim_Mennonite_Church_(Blenheim,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=103413.
Harms, Isaac. (July 2011). Blenheim Mennonite Church (Blenheim, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 December 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Blenheim_Mennonite_Church_(Blenheim,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=103413.
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