East Zorra Mennonite Church (Tavistock, Ont.)

Classification scheme: 

Title: East Zorra Mennonite Church fonds

Dates of creation: 1888-2009
Note: further accruals are expected.

Physical description: 1.2m of textual records

Administrative history: The congregation began services and formally organized in 1837. Worship services were held in homes until the first building was occupied in 1883, with subsequent building programs in 1925, 1951 and 1997. Nicolaus Roth is considered the founding leader of the group. The congregation originated through immigration from Europe and from the Wilmot Amish-Mennonite congregation due to the latter's growing size.

Preaching services were held every Sunday beginning in 1883. The first Sunday school was held in 1903. In 1920 the first Young People's Bible Meetings began. East Zorra's mailing address is: Box 997, R.R. 1, Tavistock, ON, N0B 2R0. (519) 462-2814. The church is located three miles southeast of Tavistock on the 16th Line, East Zorra Township

In 1900 there were 230 members; in 1925, 500; in 1950, 900; in 1965, 293; in 1975, 309; in 1985, 352; in 1995, 325. The congregation has been affiliated with the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference (1923-1988), Mennonite Church (1959-), Mennonite Conference of Eastern Canada (1988-) and Conference of Mennonites in Canada (1995-). The language of worship is English; the transition from German occurred in 1932.

East Zorra is the parent congregation to Cassel Mennonite Church (1935), Tavistock  Mennonite Church (1942), and Hillcrest Mennonite Church (1964).

Pastoral leaders have included Peter Zehr (1809-1898); Daniel Schrag (1813-1891); Joseph Wutherich, Joseph Ruby (1813-1897), Joseph G. Baechler (1817-1891), Joseph C. Zehr (1822-1915), Jacob Bender (1830-1902); Jacob M. Bender (1842-1914); Michael K. Yantzi (1848-1917); Christian Kropf (1843-1925); Daniel S. Iutzi (1873-1960); Jacob R. Bender (1875-1947); Peter S. Zehr (1867-1934); Menno Kuepfer (1870-1959); Daniel Wagler (b. 1897); David Schwartzentruber (b. 1897); Joel Schwartzentruber (b. 1891); Henry Yantzi (1913-1995); Vernon B. Zehr (b. 1920); Dale Schumm (1932-    ); Newton Gingrich (1925-1979); Homer E. Yutzy (1926-    ); Vernon Leis (1933-1994); Glenn Brubacher (1938-    ); Delmar Epp and Elsie Epp.

For further information see Fred Lichti, A history of the East Zorra Amish Mennonite Church (Tavistock, Ont. : The Church, 1977)

Custodial history: Accessions have been received from time to time. The Vernon Zehr essays were donated by Fred Lichti in January 2006.

Scope and Content: Early records include the bishop's books and marriage registers. In addition to the formal records of a congregation, such as meeting minutes and annual reports, the fonds includes informal records such as congregational historical commemoration records. Bulletins, newsletters and an early congregational Bible and songbook are also included. There are five series: Formal records, Informal records, Bulletins, Newsletter and Books.

Notes: See also East Zorra related items in Sound Recordings and Video Recordings. Any photographs related to this congregation can be found in Hist.Mss.10
This description was initially created by Sam Steiner in March 2000.

File list:

Series 1: Formal records

  1. Jacob M. Bender bishop book, 1888-1914
  2. Marriage register
        1966-7 Jun 1986
  3. Daniel S. Iutzi / Henry Yantzi bishop book (baptisms, 1918-1954) 
  4. Membership book, ca. 1889-1962
  5. Church directory, 1968, 1977, 1987, 1999, 2002, 2007
  6. Annual reports, 1961-1962 (financial only), 1963-1965, 1999-2014
  7. Church council/Program Council minutes, 
  8. Sunday school record book, 1935; Sunday School reorganization, 1062/63-1964/65.
  9. Missionary project record book, 1946-1963
  10. Young married couples fellowship, 1963-1969

Series 2: Informal records

  1. Misc. programs, 1920-1950s
  2. Papers re: history of congregation, 1960s-1970s
        Fred M. Lichti, "History of the South Easthope & East Zorra Amish Mennonite congregation, 1837-1920," 1974
        Fred M. Lichti, "History of the East Zorra Amish Mennonite congregation (part II)," 1974
        Fred M. Lichti, "Biography of Bishop Daniel S. Jutzi, 1873-1960," 1974
        Rosemary Zehr, "Jacob R. Bender, a servant of Christ and the church," n.d.
        Art Williams, "Their faith was an anchor" in Woodstock Sentinel Review, 1966
        Notes by Fannie Mae (Schumm) Schwartzentruber about the new church building, 1951
  3. Guest book for 150th anniversary celebrations
  4. Sunday school attendance cards in bound volume, 1930s (collected by Lovina Bender.)
  5. Anniversary bulletin covers; "Reflections on East Zorra 150th anniversary" by Lorraine Roth, 1987
  6. Vernon Zehr essays for Lend a Hand Literary Society meetings (photocopies), ca. 1940.
  7. 100th Anniversary of East Zorra Sunday School, May 4, 2003; includes script for historical scene presentation
  8. Summer Bible School 
    Programs, 1960-1963, 1965
  9. Historical bulletin covers with text by Lorraine Roth, 1987
  10. Cottage meeting groups, 1962
  11. Skits by Fred Lichti for East Zorra anniversary, 20 Sept 1997

Series 3: Bulletins

1961-1974, 1977-2014

Series 4: Newsletter

  1. East Zorra Times 1993-1999, 2002-2014

Series 5: Books

Unparteiische Liedersammlung  (Elkhart, IN: Mennonitische Verlagsanstalt, 1892 -- donation from Andrew Zehr in 1901

Die Bibel (New York : Amerikanische Bibel-Gesellschaft, 1886). Inscription on title page of New Testament reads: "Gehort in das East Zorra und South Estop Mennonitte Versamlungshaus"  The congregation's historian, Fred Lichti, suggests the Bible was kept in the East Zorra meetinghouse from its earliest days.

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Last modified 13-Dec-2011 by Laureen Harder-Gissing


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Mennonite Archives of Ontario
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