Christian Fellowship Church (Birch River, Manitoba, Canada)
The Christian Fellowship Church in Birch River, Manitoba began in 1970, when the Mafeking Evangelical Mennonite Church, located 20 miles farther north, decided to meet in Birch River because of its more central location. The church was first known as the Christian Fellowship Centre but changed its name to Christian Fellowship Church in 1988. The language of worship was English.
Services were first held in Birch River in the United Church building. The congregation formally organized in 1971 under the Evangelical Mennonite Conference when Andrew Friesen was the pastor.
Ralph and Mary Lynn Unger took over the pastorate in 1972. When Ralph Unger returned Steinbach Bible Institute for further training in 1980-1981, Leroy Friesen filled in the pastorate role. Financially supported by Christian Fellowship Church and the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, Ralph Unger, a trained teacher, supplemented his income by driving a school bus and substitute teaching. Ben Kroeker, who had been a deacon in the Rosenort Evangelical Mennonite Church, moved to the area in 1971 with his wife Helen, and began to serve as a deacon in Birch River.
Building construction was started in 1975 and the building was occupied in June 1976. For a time, the church had a manse a mile out of town.
John and Becky Hiebert served as the pastoral couple from 1986-1989. Ferlin Abrahamson, a graduate of Nipawin Bible Institute and raised in Pelly Fellowship Chapel, served as pastor for many years. He was partly self-supporting, working as a farm hand.
Glen and Betty Koop served as an interim pastoral couple from January to December 2008. Harold Thiessen, a local farmer who had studied at Steinbach Bible Institute, served as pastor from 2009-2012.
When Harold Thiessen moved to Kleefeld after 2012, the congregation continued without a formal pastor. Ferlin Abrahamson informally functioned as the pastor. Ferlin and Elizabeth Abrahamson’s daughter Bethany Matejka, a graduate of Canadian Mennonite University, served as congregational chair.
The area’s population decline has resulted in fewer farms and less people attending Christian Fellowship Church in Birch River, but in 2017 the church still held weekly services – often with guest speakers or a video series. A key ministry was still the Steeprock Bay Bible Camp, supported by a thrift store in Birch River. Christian Fellowship Church served as an evangelical church for the area.
Schellenberg, Dave. “Church Profile: Birch River, Manitoba, Christian Fellowship Center.” The Messenger (27 July 1984): 2-4.
Smith, Terry. “Christian Fellowship Church: More Strengths than Challenges.” The Messenger (19 December 2007): 17-18.
Address: 202 Third St., Birch River, Manitoba
Website: Christian Fellowship Church
Denominational Affiliation: Evangelical Mennonite Conference
Christian Fellowship Church Pastors
|Ralph and Mary Lynn Unger||1972-1980, 1981-1985|
|John and Becky Hiebert||1986-1989|
|Ferlin and Elizabeth Abrahamson||1990-2006|
|Glen and Betty Koop||2008|
|Harold and Laura Thiessen||2009-2012|
Christian Fellowship Church Membership
|Date Published||June 2017|
Cite This Article
Smith, Terry. "Christian Fellowship Church (Birch River, Manitoba, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2017. Web. 23 Oct 2017. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Christian_Fellowship_Church_(Birch_River,_Manitoba,_Canada)&oldid=149002.
Smith, Terry. (June 2017). Christian Fellowship Church (Birch River, Manitoba, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 October 2017, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Christian_Fellowship_Church_(Birch_River,_Manitoba,_Canada)&oldid=149002.
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