Toronto United Mennonite Church (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
In 1941 the General Conference Mennonite Church discussed beginning a mission in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Partly as a result, Mennonite evangelist John J. Esau, then based in Bluffton, Ohio, visited Ontario in 1942, and was the first Mennonite minister to attract to a meeting a broad spectrum of United Mennonites, mostly from the 1920s migration from the Soviet Union to Canada, living in the Toronto area.
From this beginning Bishop Jacob H. Janzen of Waterloo arranged for regular Sunday English-language services. For a year these services were held in homes with visiting ministers from outside the city. With overcrowding, services shifted to a Lutheran church. In September 1943 Arnold Fast of South Dakota became the first local minister. In 1945 a residence was purchased at 140 Victor Avenue, and in 1948 the Toronto United Mennonite Mission formally organized with 11 members. Despite its name, the mission served mainly those of United Mennonite background living in the city. It later became known as the Toronto United Mennonite Church (TUMC).
The main floor of the Victor Avenue building became the sanctuary, and the upper floor an apartment of the pastor. H. A. Claassen was the first pastor in this context.
In 1956 the congregation built a church at the present location. It was designed by Vic Heinrichs, an architecture student, with the first service held 9 December 1956, though the building was not completed until June 1961.
In September 1978, the congregation began a long involvement with refugees. That month the United Mennonite Conference’s mission and service committee, chaired by Peter Falk, appealed to its congregations to send relief goods via TUMC to the Evangelical Church of Vietnam in Canada, located in Toronto, for distribution to newly arriving refugees. TUMC soon began sponsoring refugees, and has continued to do so over the decades. An extension of this refugee engagement began in 1988 when the congregation began to share space with the Mennonite New Life Centre.
In 1979 the Toronto United Mennonite Church partnered with the Danforth Mennonite Church to create the St. Clair O'Connor Mennonite Community, a residential complex that combined townhouses for young families with seniors’ apartments and nursing home care. That facility opened in 1983.
In the early 1980s helped to foster the creation of the Mississauga Mennonite Fellowship.
After years of pondering space issues and seeking a potential move, TUMC, in partnership with the Toronto Mennonite New Life Centre and Mennonite New Life Church of Toronto, erected a new multi-purpose facility on the same property after taking down the original building.
In the early 2000s TUMC went through difficult times of discernment on LGBTQ issues in relation to persons in congregational leadership.
On the home page of it website in 2017, the Toronto United Mennonite Church said that it was a Christian community in the Mennonite-Anabaptist “peace church” tradition, that aspired to be a family of faith that welcomed people with diverse backgrounds and stories, worshipping together and supporting one another, while following Christ’s example in working for peace and justice in its urban context.
25th Anniversary Year: Toronto United Mennonite Church.1974, 11 pp.
CMC Nexus (October 1996): 10.
Dueck, Erwin. "The Menno-House Toronto." Jahrbuch der Vereinigten Mennoniten Gemeinden in Ontario, Canada (1956): 32-33.
Mennonite Reporter (30 May 1977): 11; (28 July 1997): 2.
"Our History." Toronto United Mennonite Church. 2016. Web. 16 January 2017. http://tumc.ca/?page_id=140.
Sawatzky, John C. "Church building in Toronto." Jahrbuch der Vereinigten Mennoniten Gemeinden in Ontario, Canada (1956): 31-32.
Unpublished congregational history, 1960, 2 pp. Mennonite Heritage Centre
Address: 1774 Queen St. East, Toronto, ON M4L 1G7; the church is located at Queen and Lark Streets.
Website: Toronto United Mennonite Church
Denominational Affiliations: Mennonite Church Eastern Canada Conference
Toronto United Mennonite Church Pastoral Leaders
|Name||Years of Service|
|H. A. Claassen||1948|
|Frank P. Dyck||1949-1950|
|William W. "Bill" Dick||1950-1961|
|Nicholas "Nick" Dick||1961-1968|
|Ed & Marianne Enns (lay leaders)||1968-1969|
|Helmut Harder (interim)||1969-1970|
|Osiah Horst (interim)||1986-1987|
|Shannon Neufeldt (associate)||1999-2003|
|Jonathan Slater (associate)||2005-2012|
|David Brubacher (interim)||2007-2009|
|Marilyn Zehr||2009-June 2017|
|Michele Rizoli (associate)||2013-present|
Toronto United Mennonite Church Membership
|Date Published||January 2017|
Cite This Article
Steiner, Sam. "Toronto United Mennonite Church (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2017. Web. 24 Aug 2017. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Toronto_United_Mennonite_Church_(Toronto,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=148010.
Steiner, Sam. (January 2017). Toronto United Mennonite Church (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 August 2017, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Toronto_United_Mennonite_Church_(Toronto,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=148010.
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