My wife, Sue, and I attend an assimilated Mennonite Church (Rockway Mennonite) that chooses not to hold worship services on the August Civic Holiday weekend. The last several years we’ve started a tradition of driving about the countryside passing as many Mennonite churches as possible, both in variety and number, over a three-hour period.
This year we made it past 26 churches from 10 Mennonite denominations between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm. In addition we passed two churches with Mennonite roots that are no longer Mennonite. The churches we passed included:
- Kitchener Mennonite Brethren (service was underway; Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches)
- Rockway Mennonite Church (also in Kitchener, no service; Mennonite Church Canada)
- Martin’s Mennonite Meetinghouse (north end of Waterloo on King Street, no service this Sunday by the Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Church)
- Conestoga Old Order Mennonite Church (Three Bridges Road near St. Jacobs, service underway; lot full of buggies)
- David Martin Meetinghouse (King Street North west of St. Jacobs, service underway; note the variety of buggies)
- Hawkesville Mennonite Church (service underway; Mennonite Church Canada)
- David Martin Meetinghouse (Ament Line near Linwood, service underway)
- Linwood Old Order Mennonite meetinghouse (Ament Line, closer to Linwood than the David Martin meetinghouse, service underway)
- Countryside Mennonite Fellowship (Herrgott Road near Hawkesville, service underway; they are part of the Midwest Mennonite Fellowship)
- Peel Old Order Mennonite meetinghouse (Line 86 west of Wallenstein, no service this Sunday)
- David Martin Mennonite meetinghouse (Line 86 east of Wallenstein, no service this Sunday)
- Elmira Old Order Mennonite meetinghouse (Church Street, service underway)
- Elmira Mennonite Church (service ending; Mennonite Church Canada)
- Calvary Conservative Mennonite Church (Arthur Street, eight km. north of Elmira, service underway; Conservative Mennonite Church of Ontario)
- Creekbank Old Order Mennonite meetinghouse (Concession 9, 12 km north of Elmira, no service this Sunday)
- North Woolwich Old Order and Markham Mennonite meetinghouse (Sandy Hills Drive, north of Floradale, service underway)
- Floradale Mennonite Church (service underway; Mennonite Church Canada)
- Crystal View Mennonite Church (Floradale Road, Floradale, service underway; Midwest Mennonite Fellowship)
- Weaverland Old Order Mennonite meetinghouse (Buehler Line near Hesson, service underway)
- Bethel Conservative Mennonite Church (William Hastings Road near Millbank, service underway; Nationwide Fellowship Churches)
- Heritage Mennonite Church (Millbank, no service?, building for sale; Biblical Mennonite Alliance)
- Riverdale Mennonite Church (Perth Line 72 west of Millbank, joint service with another church; Mennonite Church Canada, closing the end of August 2017).
- David Martin Mennonite meetinghouse (William Hastings Line near Crosshill, no service, or everyone has departed by 12:10 pm)
- Crosshill Old Colony Mennonite Church (probably had service that was over)
- Crosshill Mennonite Church (Hutchison Road near Crosshill, service over; Mennonite Church Canada)
- Martindale Old Order Mennonite meetinghouse (service just ended; Durst Road near Heidelberg; there was also a schoolbus full of persons from a distance).
With the Martindale Old Order services being over (12:30 pm), we know that we’ll find no more active services in Mennonite churches, and we head home.
The two churches with Mennonite roots that we passed were the Emmanuel Evangelical Missionary Church in Elmira and the Wallenstein Bible Chapel just south of Wallenstein.
We were impressed by how full the parking lots were on a sunny holiday weekend Sunday morning, especially at the David Martin and Old Order Mennonite meetinghouses. Sunday worship has remained central in their lives, with no distractions of sports activities or a late brunch with the New York Times or disappearing to the cottage. It is a discipline that has helped to keep these groups thriving.
Another delight on our drive was finding a few David Martin Mennonite fields with stooks of grain, a sight that is becoming less and less in Waterloo Region.
All in all, it was a nice way to spend a sunny Sunday morning in August.