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.
As of 2020, the Church consisted of 4000 baptized members in 36 congregations.
Largest of the Old Order Mennonite groups in Canada, the Old Order Mennonite Church in Ontario has weathered technological change, divisions, and challenges from within and without over the 130 plus 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.
In its first century, the "Old Orders" were largely centered in Waterloo County, Ontario. They expanded into the Mount Forest area of Wellington County in the late 1960s, and Bruce County (Kinloss) in the 1990s. Presently (2022), there are also colonies in Chesley, Matheson, and Massey, in Ontario, and have expanded into the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.
In Alphabetical Order (As of 2022), with dates built:
- Cedarview, Southgate, (Mount Forest area), Ontario; 1981.
- Clover Valley, Lucknow, (Huron-Kinloss Twp.), Ontario; 2012.
- Conestoga, Hawkesville, (Wellesley Twp.), Ontario; 1844.
- Country Vale, Chesley, (Arran-Elderslie), Ontario;
- Creekbank, Centre Wellington Twp., Ontario; 2000.
- Elmadale, North Perth, (Listowel area), Ontario; 2013.
- Farewell, Wellington North Twp., (Mount Forest area), Ontario; 1979.
- Hillside, Chesley, (Arran-Elderslie), Ontario; 2005.
- Klearview, Twp. of Perth East, (Listowel area), Ontario; 1990.
- Langside, Lucknow, (Huron-Kinloss Twp.), Ontario; 2007.
- Lee Valley, Massey, (Sables-Spanish Rivers Twp.), Ontario; 2009.
- Linwood, Wellesley Twp., Ontario; 1962.
- Mapleton, Mapleton Twp., Ontario; 2008.
- Martindale, Wellesley Twp., (St. Jacobs area), Ontario; 2011.
- Martinfield, Holyrood, (Huron-Kinloss Twp.), Ontario; 2000.
- Meadow Grove, West Montrose, (Woolwich Twp.), Ontario; 2017.
- Northbend, Chesley, (Arran-Elderslie), Ontario; 1998.
- North Woolwich, Woolwich Twp., Ontario; 1872.
- Olivet, Mapleton Twp., Ontario; 1955.
- Peel, Mapleton Twp., Ontario; 1901.
- Riverdale, Southgate, (Mount Forest area), Ontario; 2003.
- Russel Creek, Black River-Matheson Twp., Ontario;
- Spring Creek, Wellington North Twp., (Mount Forest area), Ontario; 1972.
- Springfield, Woolwich Twp., (near Elmira), Ontario;
- Stanchel, Prince Edward Island, 2019.
- Taylor, Black River-Matheson Twp., Ontario; 2014.
- Valleyview, Lindsay, (Kawartha Lakes), Ontario; 2008.
- Weaverland, Wellesley Twp., Ontario; 1977.
- Westbourne, Gladstone, Manitoba; 2019.
- Westdale, Minto, (near Mount Forest), Ontario; 1997.
- White Pines, Walford, (Sables-Spanish Rivers Twp.), Ontario; 2008.
- Winterbourne, Woolwich Twp., Ontario; 1966.
- Abraham W. Martin (1867-1902)
- Paul S. Martin (1902-1914)
- Ezra L. Martin (1914-1939)
- Jesse Bauman (1933-1939)
- Daniel Brubacher (1939-1942)
- Addison Gingrich (1942-1962)
- Edward Bauman (1961-2002)
- Paul M. Martin (2005-2020)
As of 2022, there are 9 Bishops, 44 Ministers ("Preachers"), and 44 Deacons in the Old Order Mennonite Church.
Bishops, in order of ordination, are (According to 'Kalender fur die Bersammlungen der Mennoniten-Gemeinden in Kanada' (2022)):
- Ian M. Shantz, 1986 (Waterloo Region)
- Elam F. Weber, 1992 (Mount Forest, Wellington County)
- Onias Frey, 2002 (Waterloo Region)
- Oscar M. Martin, 2007 (Mount Forest)
- Peter Brubacher, 2010 (Waterloo Region)
- Lloyd M. Shantz, 2013 (Chesley, Bruce County)
- John M. Weber, 2015 (Massey, Sudbury District)
- Cleason Gingrich, 2016 (Lindsay, Kawartha Lakes)
- Eli B. Bowman, 2017 (Holyrood, Huron-Kinloss, Bruce County)
For a complete list of Ministers and Deacons in the Church, see: List of Old Order Mennonite Ministers and Deacons (Canada)