South Abbotsford Church has the distinction of being the first Mennonite Brethren (MB) church established in the Matsqui-Abbotsford area of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia. The church formally organized on 1 May 1932 as the Abbotsford Mennonite Brethren Church while meeting in the Farmers Institute Hall on Clearbrook Road. After the congregation divided into North Abbotsford MB Church and South Abbotsford MB Church in 1935, South Abbotsford built its first structure on the corner of Huntingdon and Gladwin Roads. The completed building was dedicated on 1 March 1936. Eventually, towers were added to the front of the church to allow for Sunday school rooms. The church experienced continued growth and the congregation purchased property on the corner of Huntingdon and Columbia Roads, where a newly constructed sanctuary was completed in October 1954. A dedication service was held on 10 October 1954. A subsequent building program in the 1990s resulted from an additional surge in attendance.
Abram D. Rempel is considered the founding leader of the group; he continued in office until 1945. Henry H. Nikkel followed Rempel as congregational leader. Other leaders prior to 1960 included Frank Janzen, Franz C. Thiessen, Jacob F. Redekop, Jacob Wedel, Jacob Bargen, Isaak Janzen, Herman Voth and John J. Stobbe.
The congregation’s members helped establish churches such as Matsqui Mennonite Brethren Church (1944), East Aldergrove Mennonite Brethren Church (1947), Otter Road Mennonite Brethren Church (1947), Central Heights Mennonite Brethren Church (1949), Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church (1966) and King Road Mennonite Brethren Church (1966), incurring a reduction in membership in the process.
Additionally, South Abbotsford sought to accommodate academic needs in the Fraser Valley. The congregation started South Abbotsford Bible School in 1936 under the leadership of Cornelius C. Peters. Classes were suspended in 1941, but the school restarted in 1943 and was called Bethel Bible School (later known as Mennonite Brethren Bible Institute, then Columbia Bible Institute, now Columbia Bible College), which met in the church facilities. Also, in 1944, the Mennonite Educational Institute was first housed in this church.
Another significant contribution of South Abbotsford is its ministry to the Indo-Canadian people residing in the vicinity. David and Stella Manuel came to spearhead this ministry in 1980, although some church members had begun some work prior to their arrival.
In 2010 the congregation had a membership of 631 and an average attendance of 625.
Canadian Mennonite (8 October 1954): 1; (22 June 1956): 8; (24 November 1961): 15.
Mennonite Brethren Herald (6 February 1987): 14; (27 May 1988): 23; (11 August 1995): 20.
Stobbe, Abe J. South Abbotsford Mennonite Brethren Church: a history from 1932-1982. Abbotsford, BC: South Abbotsford Mennonite Brethren Church, 1982, 112 pp.
Willms, H. J. Die Sued-Abbotsford Ansiedlung, Abbotsford, B.C.: historischer Bericht. 1955, 55 pp.
Address: 32424 Huntingdon Rd., R.R.5, Abbotsford BC V2T 5Z1
Website: South Abbotsford Church
Denominational Affiliations: British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (1935-present)
Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (1935-present)
South Abbotsford Church Leading Ministers
|Abram D. Rempel||1932-1934|
|Abram D. Rempel||1935-1944|
|Henry H. Nikkel||1944-1949|
|John J. Stobbe||1950-1959|
|William I. Neufeld||1959-1966|
|Henry C. Born (interim)||1980-1981|
|Ed Balzer (interim)||2004-2005|
South Abbotsford Church Membership
|Author(s)||Henry H. Nikkel|
|Date Published||November 2010|
Cite This Article
Nikkel, Henry H., Andrew Klager and Hugo Friesen. "South Abbotsford Church (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2010. Web. 24 Aug 2016. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=South_Abbotsford_Church_(Abbotsford,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=123264.
Nikkel, Henry H., Andrew Klager and Hugo Friesen. (November 2010). South Abbotsford Church (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 August 2016, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=South_Abbotsford_Church_(Abbotsford,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=123264.
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