Sommerfeld Mennonite Church of Manitoba

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Sommerfeld Mennonite Church of Manitoba

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The Sommerfeld Mennonite Church is one of the more conservative Russian Mennonite churches in Canada. It was formed in 1893 as a result of conflict with what became known as the Bergthaler Mennonite Church over assimilation. Higher education was one of the visible manifestations of this conflict. The members of this church had moved to the Mennonite West Reserve (current day Altona/Winkler area of Manitoba) from the East Reserve (current day Steinbach area of Manitoba) around 1880. These immigrants originated in the Bergthal Colony of Russia and came to Canada in 1874-1876. About 2/3 sided with the mother church on the East Reserve, the Chortitzer Mennonite Church. The other 1/3 broke away with the newly elected bishop Johan Funk. This smaller, culturally more accommodating, group was known as the Bergthaler Mennonite Church of Manitoba.

Bishop Abraham Doerksen was ordained in 1894 by Bishop David Stoesz to lead the larger group which became known as the Sommerfeld Mennoniten Gemeinde. Emigration started in the late 1890s and early 1900s to new settlements in the Swift Current and Herbert areas of Saskatchewan. (In Saskatchewan they are known as Bergthaler). In 1922 some emigrated to form the Santa Clara colony in Mexico and in 1927 to the Menno Colony in Paraguay due to distrust of the Canadian government who was making it harder for the church to educate their children in ways important to them. In 1948 another wave of Sommerfeld Mennonites moved to Paraguay again because of the lack of trust in the Canadian government.

In 2007 the Sommerfeld Mennonite Church had churches in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. The growing membership was largely rural based.


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Bender, Harold S., Adolf Ens and Jake Peters. Sommerfeld Mennonites. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1990. Web. 30 Apr 2020.

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