Jacob Moyer–First Mennonite Bishop in Ontario

About a month ago we wrote about Valentine Kratz, the first Mennonite minister in Canada. Today we look at Jacob Moyer, also part of the first Mennonite congregation in Canada at Vineland, Ontario. Moyer was ordained as a minister in 1802, one year after Kratz. In 1807 he was ordained as a bishop, the most senior position in the Mennonite ministerial hierarchy.

Historically the bishop performed the rites of the church — marriages, baptisms, serving communion to members, ordinations of ministers, etc. He (in the age of bishops they have always been men) also gave oversight to church discipline, determining when a member might be “set back” from ability to take communion (indicating a good relationship with the church and fellow members), or even revoke membership.

Jacob Moyer was a more gifted leader than Valentine Kratz; at least he is remembered that way. After his death in 1833, divisions within the Ontario Mennonite community began to occur.

The full article and bibliography can be seen in the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online


Mennonite Bicentennial monument at The First Mennonite Church in Vineland, on Jacob Moyer’s original land. GAMEO photo

Jacob Moyer: bishop and farmer; born 24 November 1767 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania to Samuel and Catharine (Kolb) Meyer. He was the fifth child and third son in a family of nine children. On 1 September 1791 he married Magdalena Bechtel (24 March 1773-23 June 1816). They had ten sons and no daughters. After Magdalena died, he married Catherine Bechtel Hoch (14 April 1776-6 February 1851), the widow of immigrant, Daniel Hoch. Jacob died 5 June 1833 while on a trip to Pennsylvania, and was buried in Bucks County.

By vocation Jacob Moyer was a farmer. He, with several others, scouted for land on the Niagara Peninsula in 1799 and purchased 1000 acres. He returned later that year with a larger group of families to settle. In 1802 he was ordained as a minister in the Mennonite Church, the second Mennonite minister ordained in Canada (one year after Valentine Kratz). He was ordained as a bishop in 1807; the first Mennonite bishop in Canada. Jacob Moyer was a gifted peacemaker, and had a reputation for being a good speaker. Three of his sons — Jacob, Abraham and Dilman — also became ministers in the Moyer congregation at Vineland. Dilman also served as a bishop.

Jacob Moyer was one of the natural leaders of the Mennonite community, and himself the son of a minister. His Bible records the first meeting of ordained leaders in 1810 that became the Mennonite Conference of Ontario. His location near Jordan Station made his home a natural stop for new settlers moving on to the larger settlement developing in Waterloo County, Ontario. As bishop he also ordained the earliest ministers in Waterloo County, probably including Benjamin Eby. Along with his cousin, Samuel, who was the local schoolteacher in the Vineland area, Jacob Moyer successfully forged a lasting Mennonite community. — Sam Steiner


6 thoughts on “Jacob Moyer–First Mennonite Bishop in Ontario

  1. I am a descent of Dillman Moyer. Am trying to find out how he died – he was fairly young – and I cannot find any information on him. Thank you.


    • Ida Moyer (Ida J. Fegan) died 1929 Vineland (buried Vineland Mennonite Cemetery) Ida J. Fegan-Moyer was the second wife of Allen G. Moyer 1848-1893 and they were married on March 31, 1884. Allen G. Moyer 1848-1893 was of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ group and he was a “Nurseryman” and he was the son of Jacob L. Moyer 1805-1890 and he was the son of Dillman Moyer 1772-1812 and this Dillman was the brother of Bishop Jacob Moyer 1767-1833 who is the subject of this article.
      Best Regards;
      Delmer B. Martin
      R4 Elmira


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