Mennonites had come into the Chilliwack area of British Columbia from the prairies in the 1940s. A congregation, initially known as the Westheimer Mennoniten Gemeinde, had been formed in 1945 but a division of opinion on many matters due to the influence of revivalism caused a split in 1947. The group that remained became the East Chilliwack Mennonite Church and the new congregation was named the First Mennonite Church. The new congregation held its organizational meeting on 18 May 1947 in the Strathcona School, led by Elder Wilhelm Martens from the First Mennonite Church Greendale. There were 40 charter members. Gerhard D. Loewen is considered the founding leader of the group. On 30 August 1947 the congregation was able to purchase the church building formerly owned by the Zion Evangelical Church. It was located at 428 Wellington Avenue, four blocks from the city center.
In 1959 a group desiring to worship in the English language began its own services and formed the Chilliwack Mennonite Mission Church. A new sanctuary was constructed in 1965. In 1969 the Chilliwack Mennonite Mission Church merged back with the First Mennonite congregation and the name was changed to Chilliwack Mennonite Church.
The congregation dissolved in 1978 due to declining membership, and differences in theology. Long standing internal struggle and deep tensions between the "charismatic" and "traditional" led to the decay of the congregation. Eventually the congregation accepted a resolution to dissolve and turn over the church property and assets to the Conference of Mennonites in British Columbia with the view to establishing a new congregation under the leadership of the conference. The formal closing and thanksgiving service was held on 10 December 1978. The building was subsequently sold to a Baptist congregation in Chilliwack.
Canadian Mennonite (24 November 1961): 11; (3 August 1965): 1.
Churches in Profile. Conference of Mennonites in British Columbia, 1978: 32-34.
Information bezueglich der Vereinigten Mennoniten Gemeinden in British Columbien: Gelegentlich der Konferenz der Mennoniten in Kanada, 1959. Abbotsford, BC: The Conference, 1959: 18.
Jahrbuch der Konferenz der Vereinigten Mennoniten Gemeinden in British Columbien, 1951. Abbotsford, BC: The Conference, 1951: 96-98.
Martens, Maureen. "A History of the Chilliwack Mennonite Church, 1947-1977." Unpublished Research Paper, Canadian Mennonite Bible College, 1977, 33 pp. Mennonite Heritage Centre.
Address: 428 Wellington Street (now 45592 Wellington Street), Chilliwack, BC
Conference of Mennonites in British Columbia (1949-1978)
Conference of Mennonites in Canada (1949-1978)
General Conference Mennonite Church (1959-1978)
Chilliwack Mennonite Church Leading Ministers
|Gerhard D. Loewen||1947-1948|
|Gerhard I. Peters||1950-1959|
|Abraham B. Koop||1961-1967|
|Ernest Sawatzky (interim)||1968|
|Peter A. Unger||1969-1972|
|George Harms (interim)||1972|
|Hans Dyck (interim)||1975|
|Anton "Tony" Buhr (interim)||1976|
|George Epp (interim)||1977|
Chilliwack Mennonite Church Membership
|Richard D. Thiessen|
|Date Published||July 2010|
Cite This Article
Epp, Marlene and Richard D. Thiessen. "Chilliwack Mennonite Church (Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2010. Web. 17 Mar 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Chilliwack_Mennonite_Church_(Chilliwack,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=86686.
Epp, Marlene and Richard D. Thiessen. (July 2010). Chilliwack Mennonite Church (Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 March 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Chilliwack_Mennonite_Church_(Chilliwack,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=86686.
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