About Us

Our Story

Who are Mennonites?

Mennonites have a history that in some ways dates back to the 1500’s, and in other ways as with all Christians back to Jesus.

“Mennonites” are named after an important early leader, Menno Simons, who lived in the early 1500’s. His followers were called “Anabaptists” because they believed in adult baptism. Because of continuing hostility and opposition with existing churches, the Anabaptists were forced to leave their homes.

The “Swiss” (South German) Anabaptists moved mainly to North America while the “Dutch” (North Germans) migrated eastward, to Prussia and then the Ukraine. Many Swiss Mennonites made their way to the Waterloo area following the American Revolutionary War in 1776.

Other Mennonites arrived in Canada through a series of immigrations from Russia; from 1873 through to 1954 and more recently Mennonites continue to move to Essex County from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Many people with other cultural roots have become Mennonite because of the belief and practices of the church. Within our conference there are people worshipping every week in English, Spanish, Lao, Hmong, French, German, Chinese and other languages.

To learn more about who we are you can visit www.thirdway.com Or another site that gives a summary of the history of the Mennonite people, you can go to www.mhsc.ca and click on: Who are the Mennonites?

Calling Essex County Home

The earliest Mennonites began arriving in Essex County from Waterloo in search of employment in the spring of 1925. As word spread of favourable conditions and jobs, they were soon joined by friends and family from Waterloo, other parts of Ontario, and also from the west, where life was difficult in the 1930s. They immediately began worshipping together – first in homes, and later in rented halls until the first church was built on Oak Street East in 1933-34. It was originally named the Essex County United Mennonite Church; and its membership in the early 30’s was 335.

The Church

The church grew steadily in number and the little white church was enlarged as needed. In 1953, with 902 members, future expansion of the church building was no longer possible, and a decision was made to build a second church north of town. This location was more central to the Mennonite people, many of whom owned farms in the area. It became known as the North Leamington United Mennonite Church and the two congregations remained united as one church with two places of worship until 1980. Since its beginning in 1953, the North Church has seen much growth in numbers and also in physical space. A Sunday School building was added in 1961, a large addition to the front of the building followed in 1983, and renovations continue as necessary. When the North Church was first established, the majority of church members were farmers; that has changed over the years. We are now a diverse group including teachers, lawyers, nurses, businessmen and women and skilled trades-people.