The First Mennonite Church (Vineland, ON)

Classification scheme: 

Title: The First Mennonite Church, Vineland fonds

Dates of creation: 1799-2001

Phsycial description: 1.75 m of textual records

Administrative history: The congregation has been affiliated with the Mennonite Conference of Ontario (1820-1988), the Mennonite Church (1898-), the Mennonite Conference of Eastern Canada (1988-) and Mennonite Church Canada (1995-).

The congregation began services about 1800, and formally organized in 1801. The first building was occupied in 1801, with subsequent building programs in 1810, 1897, and 1962. Valentine Kratz is considered the first minister".

First Mennonite is the oldest Mennonite congregation in Canada. At one time the congregation had three places of worship: the Moyer church at the present location, the Mountain church (extinct) and the Jordan church (extinct). Services were held alternately at the three churches. 

First Mennonite was known as Moyer Mennonite Church until 1955. It experienced loss of members both in the New Mennonite division and Old Order Mennonite division.

Custodial history: The First Mennonite congregation has made periodic donations to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario.

Scope and content: There are four series: Formal recordsInformal recordsBooks, and Church bulletins

Notes: See also the Worship Services listing in Sound Recordings for First Mennonite-related services as well as oral history interviews done for the 200th anniversary by Laureen Harder at Hist.Mss.9.69.

For further information see: Their richest inheritance : a celebration of The First Mennonite Church, Vineland, Ontario, 1801-2001 by Laureen Harder (Vineland, ON : The First Mennonite Church, 2001).

Archival description created January 2001 by Sam Steiner

File list:

Series 1: Formal records

  1. Jacob Moyer records from his Bible (photocopies with translations; original at Jordan Museum), 1799-1837.
  2. Church Council Minutes, 1973, 1991 (partial)
  3. Membership records
    List of former members, n.d.
    Handwritten membership list (1912-1950), with separate lists from 1945-1966. (first list likely by S. F. Coffman, remainder by Alvin Culp)
    Typed list of members, including notes on withdrawals, deaths, etc. prepared by S.F. Coffman in 1951
    Letters and certificates of transfer in and out of the congregation (kept by Alvin Culp, Deacon), ca. 1915-1966
  4. Church constitution (holograph draft, plus copies from other congregations), 1977
  5. Annual meeting minutes/reports (Pastor)
    Undated motion from annual meeting "that S. F. Coffman be accepted as pastor & bishop, for the present year, or until other arrangements can be made."
    Undated results of elections at annual meeting
    1921 Results of election
    1957 (recommendation re: church council)
    1961-1963 (minutes)
    1965 (pastor's report)
    1967 (minutes)
    1969-1977, 1979 (reports)
  6. Mission Sewing Circle minutes
  7. Mission Sewing Circle financial journals
  8. Congregational financial reports
    1946-1969, 1971
  9. Congregational Financial journal
  10. Sunday school minute books
  11. Sunday school financial records
  12. Young People's Bible Meeting minute and account book
  13. Bonaccord Literary Society,
  14. Jordan Branch, Upper Canada Bible Society cash book
  15. Mennonite Aid Union valuation,
    Parsonage, 1961, 
    Church building, 1964
  16. Sunday School class attendance books,
  17. Sunday School record books,
    1905-1915, 1917-1932, 1934-1953, 1957/58-1960/61
  18. Summer Bible School records,

Series 2: Informal records

  1. WMSA correspondence, reports,
  2. Bonaccord Literary Society papers and publications,
    1934-1940s (much undated)
  3. Correspondence
    1936 (thanks for donations of fruit to Mennonite Gospel Mission, Toronto), 1942-1943 (letters during wartime allowing use of Alvin Culp's truck to transport Summer Bible School students), 1951, 1960 (includes ballots on calling Willis Hallman to ministry, 1951)
  4. Misc. programmes (Young People's Meetings, Sunday school conferences, etc.)
  5. 150th Anniversary materials
  6. Biographical paper on John S. Coffman, n.d. (by Barbara Coffman?)
  7. Sunday school picnic records, 1960-1966
  8. Newsclippings
  9. "Louth Harbour Shipping Company" 
    by Barbara Coffman, 1959
  10. 200th Anniversary materials
    List of Ministers and Deacons, 1801-2001 compiled by Walter M. Fretz
    Sequence of events, 1801-2001 compiled by Walter M. Fretz
    List of names mentioned in annual meeting meetings, 1898-1990 compiled by Walter M. Fretz
    Transcript of interview with Lena and Barbara Coffman by "VK", n.d.
    Interview summaries of interviews by Laureen Harder
    -- Jeanne Culp and Erla Culp, August 21, 2000
    -- Lois Snyder, August 22, 2000
    -- James Culp, Mike Culp, Liz High, Dean High, Ralph Culp, Carolyn (Culp) Hay, August 22, 2000
    -- Walter and Elaine Fretz, August 23, 2000
    -- Mimi Neufeld, August 23, 2000
    -- Hedy Sawadsky, September 9, 2000
    -- Tom and Maryanne Neufeld, Eugene and Carol Penner, October 29, 2000
    -- Hank and Ester Saito, Anna Mae Fretz, March 10, 2001
    -- Ella Graham, March 10, 2001
    -- Clara High, Mildred Nigh, April 7, 2001
    -- Rhea Young, April 9, 2001
    Questionnaires used in book project 
    One copy of Their richest inheritance : a celebration of The First Mennonite Church, Vineland, Ontario, 1801-2001 by Laureen Harder
  11. "Clergyman's Records" from funeral home given to officiants, 1951, 1956-1959, 1965
  12. Congregational profile, 1974

Series 3: Books used by congregation

Bible Class question book for advanced scholars (Elkhart, Ind. : Mennonite Publishing Co., 1882) (Mary Rittenhouse copy)
Bible Class question book for advanced scholars (Elkhart, Ind. : Mennonite Publishing Co., 1888)
A collection of Psalms and hymns suited to the various occasions of public worship and private devotion compiled by a committee of Mennonites (Elkhart, Ind. : Mennonite Pub. Co., 188?) title page missing - "Moyer Church 1887"

Series 4: Church Bulletins



Generally 8:30-4:30 Monday to Friday. An appointment in advance is recommended.


Mennonite Archives of Ontario
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238