Western Ontario Mennonite Conference

Classification scheme: 

Title: Western Ontario Mennonite Conference fonds

Dates of creation: 1800-1988

Physical description: 4 m of textual records

Administrative history: The Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference had its origin in the Amish settlement in Waterloo County that began with the 1824 migration from Europe. Ministers met informally in the 19th century, but a conference structure did not begin until 1925 when a constitution was approved. It outlined no structure except for elected officers (moderator, assistant moderator, secretary and treasurer). Members of conference were all ordained men, but congregations could send lay substitutes if an ordained leader was unable to attend.The only standing committee was the executive committee -- all others were appointed by the moderator as needed. Committees of arbitration were elected by the members of conference. A resolutions committee began to function at each conference beginning in 1925. A missions committee also was appointed in 1925, primarily to raise funds to support Nelson & Ada Litwiller and Amos & Edna Schwartzentruber who served as missionaries in Argentina. The membership of the committee remained static until 1938, and was not expanded beyond three members until 1943. A Bible School board was first appointed in 1932. In 1942 a separately constituted Sunday school conference was established with its own constitution.

The conference received its first official charter in 1956. In the 1950s it discontinued its Sunday School Conference for a much broader Christian Nurture Council, and became a full-fledged member of the General Conference (later General Assembly) of the Mennonite Church (MC).

A new constitution in 1960 continued the Winter Bible School Board, the Mission Board, a Resolutions Committee and formally identified the Christian Nurture Council, the Nominating Committee, and a Student Aid Fund subgroup of the Mission Board. The Nominating Committee was replaced by a Personnel Committee in 1977.

In 1961 a joint church planting agreement with the Mennonite Conference of Ontario was approved, as was the decision to appoint three members to the Board of Governors of the emerging Conrad Grebel College.

The name changed in 1963 to the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference when the conference decided to drop the term Amish from its title. The word Western was primarily a geographic designation to distinguish it from the then-Mennonite Conference of Ontario (later Mennonite Conference of Ontario and Quebec, MC).

In 1964 the first official lay representatives took part in conference proceedings. Acting on a proposal brought to conference by a study committee appointed in 1963, approval was given for all ministers to perform marriages, baptism, and serve communion without a bishop present. The same document provided guidelines for pastoral changes and the appointment of a "ministerial superintendent" to oversee such changes and serve as a pastor to pastors. The term "conference minister" was adopted a few years later when that designation became common.

A new constitution was approved by the conference in 1970 as an ever greater involvement in mission outreach with both the Mennonite Conference of Ontario and Quebec and the Conference of United Mennonite Churches in Ontario (GCM). This development led in the early 1970s to the formation of a full-fledged inter-Mennonite conference (1973), with all three conferences, however, continuing their separate organizations. In March 1987 members of the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference voted to disband their separate organization in favor of becoming a part of the Mennonite Conference of Eastern Canada (1988).

Custodial history: Donations have been received both from individuals and from the conference.

Scope and content: There are 10 series: 1) Delegate Meeting Minutes and Reports; 2) Executive Committee/Board; 3) Mission Committee/Board; 4) Winter Bible School; 5) Sunday School Conference; 6) Christian Nurture Council; 7) Finance Committee; 8) Personnel Committee; 9)Service Organizations; 10) Historical Material

Notes: The congregations that formed part of the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference are found in Archives series V.
Description originally created by Sam Steiner in June 2004.

File list:

Series 1: Ministers / Delegate Meeting Minutes and Reports

Custodial history: In the 1980s typed transcriptions were prepared by Lorraine Roth from the original minute books and records for 1925-1950 then held by long-time conference secretary, Chris Brunk. Some of the original records have subsequently been lost. The remainder have the original minute books filed with the transcription. Executive Committee minutes are part of the more informal records kept on loose sheets and scribblers prior to 1962. Annual meeting minutes for 1974-1987 are printed in the Inter-Mennonite Conference (Ontario) yearbook

Unfiled papers from Chris Brunk (1930s-1940s?)

Constitution & Discipline (1925, 1960, 1970, 1976)

1918 (printed in German & English versions)

1923 (printed in German)

1924-1931 (printed in English)


1937 (includes scribbler with minutes for 1937-1939)


1944 (includes scribbler with minutes for 1944-1945)


1945/46 (ministers meetings re: Old Peoples Home and Millbank mission)

1946 (includes scribbler with minutes for 1946-1949)


Programs, 1940, 1942-1974, 1978-1979, 1981-1983

Thanksgiving service and all-day meeting programs, 1929, 1931, 1933-1934, 1938

A service of praise and celebration for the pilgrimage of the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference, 8 Nov 1987

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Series 2: Executive Committee/Board

  1. Correspondence
    Yorifumi Yaguchi correspondence, 1963
  2. Minutes
    1958-1987 (earlier minutes are mingled with conference minutes)
  3. Special Committees as appointed
    1. Music Conference, 1952-1965
    2. Conference Planning Committee, 1977-1980, 1983

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Series 3: Mission Committee/Board

  1. Minutes
    1946, 1958-1988
  2. Correspondence
  3. Student Aid
    1965, 1977-1986
  4. Treasurer
  5. Nursing Homes 
    (In 1968 the homes formerly operated by the conference were transferred to a new independent entity -- Tri-County Mennonite Homes)
    1. Study Committee
    2. Maples (Tavistock) 
      Indenture & Agreements re: sale, 1968 
      Financial records, 1946-1968
    3. Milverton
      "History of the Milverton Nursing Home" by Brenda Schultz, 1980
  6. London Rescue Mission
    Administrative history: The Goodwill Rescue Mission began in 1951 on Talbot St. In 1961 it became the London Rescue Mission and moved to a new location at 459 York St. The London Rescue Mission received its own charter as a separate entity in October 1969 as Mission Services of London; property & operational transfers to the new entity took place in May 1970.

    Goodwill Rescue Mission materials, 1956-1960 
    Annual Reports, 1965-1967 
    Constitution, 1965 
    Board minutes, 1965-1968 
    Correspondence, 1965-1968
    Legal & Property documents, 1962-1971 
    Report of Study by Ontario Welfare Council, January 1968 
    Reports, literature, 1965-1968
    Financial reports, 1965-1968
  7. Study and Programming Committee on Mental Retardation 
    Minutes, 1972-1974
  8. Limberlost Ministry of London
    Correspondence, minutes, 1984-1987
  9. Church Planting Projects 
    Brussels, 1968-1969 
    Kitchener-Waterloo, 1977-1978 
    Milverton, 1969-1988
    New Hamburg (Living Water), 1980-1988 
    Parkhill, 1963 
    Petitcodiac, 1980-1988 
    Wellesley, 1974-1975
    Woodstock, 1984
  10. Other Committees
    Conference Structure, 1965-1967 
    Experiment in Ministry to Low Income Families, 1972
    Sudbury Project, 1965-1967
  11. Young Adult Centre (Stratford) 
    Minutes & Correspondence, 1972-1976 (includes beginning of Voluntary Service Unit)

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Series 4: Winter Bible School Board

  1. Minute books
    1932-1947, 1954-1964 
  2. Cash book, 1937/38-1964/65
  3. Enrolment records 
    (East Zorra) 1954-1962
    (Wellesley) 1960-1962
  4. CHETA (Cassel, Hillcrest, East Zorra, Tavistock, Avon) Bible School / School of Christian Education
    1976, 1979-1989
  5. Ontario Amish Mennonite Bible School Certificate Book
  6. Winter Bible School announcement programs
    1932-1962 (incomplete)

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Series 5: Sunday School Conference

Administrative history: The Sunday School Conference was supersed by the Christian Nurture Council in 1957/58. The minutes of the Council were continued in the Sunday School Conference minute book until 1963.

  1. Minute book
  2. Programs
    1922- 1957 (incomplete)
  3. Historical reflections on history of Sunday School

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Series 6: Christian Nurture Council

  1. Constitution
    1957, n.d.
  2. Annual Reports 
    Slate, 1957-1968 
    Sunday school records, 1956-1964
  3. Minutes (includes conjoint meetings with Faith & Life Committee of the Mennonite Conference of Ontario) 
  4. Correspondence
    Conjoint Committee, 1968-1971
    Junior Activities, 1963-1964
    Home Interests, 1963-1965
    Sunday Evening Services, 1964-1965
    Church Music, 1962-1965
    Missionary Education, 1964-1967
    Christian Service Training, 1959-1965
  5. Programs
  6. Young People's Bible Meetings
    Programs, 1930-1948
    Young Peoples Conference Minute Book, 1945-1957
  7. Mennonite Youth Survey, 1980 (on concerns, aspirations, goals) by David Appavoo. Printed tables based on 254 responses in Western Ontario Mennonite Conference.
  8. Mennonite Youth Fellowship 
    Constitution, n.d., 1975 
    Minutes, 1949-1974, 1985-1987
    Correspondence, 1963-1967 
    Leadership training seminar questionnaires, 1964 
    Friendly Breezes newsletter , 1966-1967
    Serventhood Work Camps, 1967-1968 
    Youth cabinet lists (congregational youth executives), 1969/70-1972/73 
    Youth Minister Support Group, 1981-1984 
    Youth Minister Study & Search Committee, 1984 
    Youth Ministry Committee, 1987/88 
    CHETA (Cassel, Hillcrest, East Zorra, Tavistock, Avon)Youth Fellowship records, 1966-80

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Series 7: Stewardship & Finance Committee

  1. Minutes & Correspondence
    1965-Sept 1987
  2. Financial Records
    Peter S. Zehr record book, 1924-1949
  3. Miscellaneous Issues
    Pension Plan survey, 1975/76
  4. Publicity materials 

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Series 8: Personnel Committee

  1. Minutes
    1977-Nov 1987

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Series 9 : Related Service Organizations

  1. Amish Mennonite Fire & Storm Aid Union
  2. Tri-County Homes
    1. Correspondence, 1968-1975 (Newton Gingrich files)
    2. Minutes, 1967-1978 (Newton Gingrich files)
    3. Audited financial statements, 1972-1978
    4. Aldaview correspondence & minutes, 1977-1979
    5. Publications (Nithviews), 1972-1975, 1978
  3. Mission Services of London
    1. Annual reports, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979
    2. Financial statements, 1979
    3. Board minutes, 1969-1973 (board and executive minutes filed together), 1977-1979
    4. Executive minutes, 1978-1979
    5. Correspondence, etc.
    6. Policy documents, bylaw drafts, 1970s
    7. Personnel committee minutes, 1970-1971
    8. Brochures
      Note: Includes copy of Mission Services of London: 25th.
    9. Miscellaneous
  4. Stratford VS Unit 
    Correspondence, 1976-1978
  5. Hidden Acres Camp 
    Note: Camp newsletters are located in the Milton Good Library.
    Annual reports, 1974-1976, 1978 
    Minutes, 1975-1979
    Correspondence, etc., 1964-1965
    Cookbook, Summer 1992
    Brochure, 1977, [199-]

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Series 10 : Historical Materials collection

  1. Early Amish Collection
    1. John Gascho (1830-1909) Marriage & Baptismal Register (1876-1940)
      (Includes baptisms at Wilmot A.M. church by other ministers, 1918-1940)
    2. Daniel Steinmann (1857-1933) Marriage (1902-1930) & Baptismal Record (1898-1934)
      (baptisms after 1930 were by other ministers )
    3. Typescript list of marriages, baptisms and ordinations by Peter Litwiller, John Gascho, Daniel Steinmann, Moses O. Jantzi and others prepared by Lorraine Roth 1977 and updated in 2002
    4. Typescript of Record Book (marriage, births, deaths) of the Wellesley-Wilmot congregation 1861-1921 begun by Johannes Jantzi (1806-1881) prepared by Lorraine Roth 1977
    5. Correspondence copied at National Archives, 1822-1830
    6. List of historic Ontario Amish documents located at Mennonite Church USA Archives prepared by Lorraine Roth, 1976
    7. Copies and translations of Christian Steinmann family documents at Mennonite Church USA Archives (1800-1881)
    8. "Die Amischen Mennoniten in Canada" by Christian M. Bender (1845-1908), ca. 1902
    9. Letter of George Jutzi (d. 1881) 24 May 1843 from Ohio to Wilmot Township Ontario (photocopy of original, plus translation)
    10. John (Johannes) Gascho (1830-1909) correspondence with Sem (or Shem) Miller, David Miller and J.F. Schwartzendruber, 1890-1901
      Note: Photocopies in this file were replaced in 2021 by originals transferred from the Mennonite Church USA Archives. MC USA Archives' file was titled "letters on church problems." Sem Miller, a bishop in Homes County, Ohio, was earlier misidentified as Sam or Samuel Miller.
    11. Fr. Schwarzendruber letter to Sem & David Miller, 1891 (photocopies and translations from Mennonite Church USA Archives)
    12. Peter Litwiller deed, 1886 (photocopies and translations from Mennonite Church USA Archives)
    13. Typescript of Henry Egli letter to Peter Litwiller 30 Dec. 1964 (photocopies and translations from Mennonite Church USA Archives)
    14. Amish ministers' manuals and translations from the mid-19th century
      Note: Photocopies in this file were replaced in 2021 by originals transferred from the Mennonite Church USA Archives
    15. Correspondence re: ordination of Amos Schwartzentruber, 1923/24 (Daniel H. Steinmann, Christian Gascho, S.C. Yoder, E.L. Frey)
    16. Misc. letters of membership transfer, 1875-1917
    17. Joseph Ruby (1813-1897) Account Book (photocopy), 1848-1889 (also includes marriage records from 1858-1882)
    18. Resolutions re: Daniel Steinmann bishop discipline, 1913
    19. S.F. Coffman correspondence for Non-Resistant Relief Organization, 1917-1918 (copies)
    20. Historical notes on the Steinmann and St. Agatha congregations, 1940s
    21. Local history play about Wilmot Township, "Diamonds."
    22. Amish Mennonite Conference minutes, 1927-1930 (photocopy)
    23. D. Boshart to Emmanuel Schwartzentruber, 1920s
    24. Deed of sale, Christian Stolzfoos to Christian Stolzfoos (Jr.) 24 April 1819 of Lot 10, Block #3, Home District, County of York (present day Woolwich Township)(Photocopy)
    25. Text of lot for ordination, n.d. (donation of Mary Mae Schwartzentruber)
    26. "Crusade for Christ" news sheets, 1955
  2. Early Amish Collection - Oversize
    1. Wellesley-Wilmot Church Record Book, 1862-1921 (photocopy)
    2. South Easthope & East Zorra Church Record Book, 1858-1869 (photocopy)
  3. Sesquicentennial Celebrations, 1972
    1. 150 Years booklet, 1972
    2. The Amish of Canada by Orland Gingerich (Conrad Press, 1972)
    3. Publicity, draft documents related to Sesquicentennial , 1972
    4. Correspondence
  4. 60 Years of Vision, 1984
    Note: Items 1-5 were noted as missing from the Archives in 2020. Items 6-11 were donated to the Archives by John Bender and added to this series in 2020.
    1. Summary of tape interviews of Nelson and Ada Litwiller by Shari Miller in 1983 (see also file 7)
    2. Planning Committee minutes, 1984
    3. Extracts from Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference minutes about the Litwillers and Swartzentrubers
    4. Letters and reminiscences, 1984
    5. Sixty years of vision and ministry booklet, 1984 (copies available in the Milton Good Library)
    6. Book project correspondence, 1983-1985
    7. Interview outlines and biographical notes, 1925, 1974, 1983-1984, 1987 (See Hist.Mss.9.27.42 for audio tapes of the interviews)
    8. "Life Story and Selected Writings, Sermon Outlines, Letters," manuscript by Nelson Litwiller, 1986
    9. Celebration program, "60 Years of Vision and Ministry," Steinmann Mennonite Church, 1984
    10. Large print Bible presented to Nelson and Ada Litwiller on 26 Oct 1979 by Zion Mennonite Church, Adair, Oklahoma (includes sermon and other notes)
    11. Nelson Litwiller speaking in Braderton, Florida about his charismatic conversion, [between 1970 and 1987]

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Generally 9:00 am - 4:00 pm 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