Old Order Mennonite Church in Ontario
Established in 1889, the Old Order Mennonite Church in Ontario was a division from the (Old) Mennonite Church (now Mennonite Church Canada). Throughout the mid-1800s, several of the more traditional Mennonites in Waterloo County (in southwestern Ontario) felt increasingly uncomfortable with changes in the church, including revival meetings, the addition of Sunday Schools, and prayer and other services in English.
Largest of the Old Order Mennonite groups in Ontario, the Old Order Mennonite Church in Ontario has weathered technological change, divisions, and challenges from within and without over the almost 130 years of its existence. The Old Order Mennonites have their roots in an earlier division among the Mennonites in Indiana in the early 1870s. At that time, Bishop Jacob Wisler took a stand for traditional Anabaptist beliefs and practices during changing times. Wisler was excommunicated for his stand, and the Wisler Old Order movement was born. With close ties across the border, Ontario Mennonites were bound to be influenced.
In Waterloo County, Ontario, it was Bishop Abraham Martin of Woolwich who led the traditionalists into a schism from the Mennonite Conference of Ontario. Martin reacted to the many changes in his Conference in that time period. Largely influenced by Methodist revivalism, Mennonites were being heavily influenced to make changes in the ways they worshiped, made converts, and even educated their children, especially in urban areas. Indeed, it is no accident that the Old Order Mennonites we know today are entirely rural, mainly living on farms, with clothing styles from days gone by, and driving horse and buggy. This was and is intentional on their part.