The First Mennonite Church in Vineland Ontario is the oldest organized Mennonite congregation in Canada. In 1786 Mennonites began migrating from Pennsylvania to Canada. Some Mennonites were undoubtedly motivated by concerns about religious freedom in the newly formed United States. Others came because good farmland was becoming scarce in Pennsylvania, and opportunities for land were plentiful in Upper Canada (Ontario).
Mennonites came to the area of the Twenty Mile Creek in Niagara starting in 1786. In 1801 this congregation was formed, meeting at a log building also used as a schoolhouse. This first church building was erected on the farm of Jacob Moyer, and the present church is still located on what used to be part of the Moyer farm. The church was known as the “Meyer meeting house” (later anglicized to Moyer). The church officially changed its name in 1955 to “The First Mennonite, Vineland”. There have been four different church buildings on this site, built in 1801, 1810, 1897, with the current building being built in 1962. A major renovation of the building was done in 2000.
The early settlers spoke German, and this language was used in worship until the 1890’s. Differences over worship practices resulted in a number of church splits in the 1800’s, with members from The Moyer Church beginning and joining other congregations in the area.
In 1986 Mennonites in Canada celebrated a bicentennial of their arrival in this country, and this occasion was commemorated by a monument that is located just outside of the church. There is a historical stonewall cemetery located next to the church as well, where many of the early pioneers are buried.
For more information about what Mennonites believe, see our Confession of Faith.