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Yarrow, British Columbia

Edited by
Esther Epp Harder, Edwin Lenzmann, and Elmer Wiens

Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church
by Edwin Lenzmann

The Mennonite Brethren Church [often referred to simply as the MB Church] came into existence in South Russia (now Ukraine) in 1860. This denomination was a fusion of two streams, the Pietistic (now called evangelical) and the Anabaptist. In keeping with its Pietistic heritage, it emphasized the need for a born again experience followed by a lifestyle in accordance with the teachings of the Bible. In keeping with its Anabaptist heritage it further emphasized the need for a church composed of born again believers who practiced a lifestyle in accordance with the teachings of the Bible.

It has been estimated that 15 - 20% of the more than 20,000 Mennonites who left the Soviet Union for Canada in the 1920's [often referred to as Russlaender] belonged to the Mennonite Brethren Church. But among those Russlaender who found their way to BC, the proportion of Mennonite Brethren was much higher. Most of these newcomers made Greendale/Sardis, Abbotsford, and especially Yarrow their new home.

As the first MB congregation in BC, the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church came into existence in 1929. Its membership peaked at about 970 in 1948, followed by a gradual but consistent decline in the decades that followed. For most of its first 30 years the congregation was led by John A. Harder [1931 - 1949] and H. Lenzmann [1950 - 1959].

The Meeting Places of the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church

Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church — 1930
Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church
Photograph: David Giesbrecht (History of Yarrow)

Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church — 1934
Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church
Photograph: David Giesbrecht (History of Yarrow)

Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church
Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church

Yarrow MB Church Dedication 1938
from the Mennonitische Rundschau 7 Dec. 1938 #49 p.2

It happened. The long yearned for day arrived and we were able to dedicate our newly constructed meeting place to the Lord on Sunday the 20th of November.

At 9:30 a.m. the congregation and guests gathered in front of the building and the contractor, our dear Brother Heinrich Voth, passed the key to our leader, Brother Johannes Harder.

After Brother Harder had unlocked the door the entire congregation began singing the wonderful song: Wie Suess Toent Sabbat Glockenklang (How Sweetly Peal the Sunday Bells). As we came to the chorus: Wir geh'n, wir geh'n zum Gottes Haus (We're going, we're going to God's House) we all entered the church. While we were walking, the second and third verses were sung. It was so festive!

Once inside, everyone remained standing until all were in. With everyone standing the chorale: Wilkomm'ne Heilge Majestaet (Welcome Holy Majesty) was sung. Thereupon everyone was seated.

With every seat in the large building occupied, close to 1,200 people must have been present. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to get in. Both choirs, Sardis and Yarrow combined, next sang the edifying song: Ich bin froh, denn man sagte zu mir... (I was Glad When They said unto me, Let us go into the House of the Lord) Brother Jakob Abrahams now read Psalm 81:1-5 and led the prayer time. About ten brethren prayed. After this the choirs sang: Jauchzet, jauchzet dem Herrn (Exult, exult the Lord).

Brother J. Harder emphasized that this is the day that the lord has made.... He announced the schedule for the day and read letters from the brethren C.N. Hiebert and F.W. Martens.

Brother Abram Nachtigal delivered the dedicatory message based on Revelation 1:10-19. He especially stressed the holiness of God. To Hm we dedicate this house. He is holy and therefore we too should be holy and our activity within the house of God should accord with that truth.

A number from the choirs followed: Herr an diesem heil'gen Ort (Lord, at this Holy Place).

The brethren Johannes Harder and Abram Nachtigal gave the prayers of dedication. This was followed by a song from the choirs: Christus Jesus der Eckstein (Christ Jesus the Cornerstone). A message by Rev. Heinrich Dueck, Sardis, based on Psalm 122 and Ephesians 2:19-22, followed. How can a church grow? When a church builds itself. A choir song followed: Was ist's das heut unser Auge entzueckt? Das ist die Kavelle! (What is it that delights our eyes today? That is the Kavelle!) A message by Brother Abram Rempel, Abbotsford, was next. He requested that a verse from Wenn ich, O Schoepfer (When I, Oh Creator) be sung and read John 1:12. He spoke about childlike faith, childlike prayer, and childlike trust.

While the congregation sang O wie freu'n wir uns der Stunde (Oh how we Rejoice in the Hour) the morning offering was taken. The Men's Chorus next sang Heilig, heilig, heilig ist der Herr (Holy, holy, holy is the Lord) Brother David Guenther, Murrayville, had the closing prayer.

Lunch was served in the church basement.

Brother P.J. Neufeldt began the afternoon sessiong with introductory remarks. The choirs then served with three songs: O Grosser Gott (Oh Great God), Heimat fuer Heimatlose (Home for the Homeless), Jubelt und jauchz't (Jubilate and exalt). A song (Bless me Lord) by the Men's Chorus followed. Then came the message from Brother Johannes Harder: Isaiah 57:15- God Living among His people. Rev. Edwards, Chilliwack: Isaiah 41:4. We are to look up from this building to the building not made with hands. Rev. Munroe from the Chilliwack Presbyterian Church brought greetings and good wishes. Mr. Cook, Secretary of the Chilliwack United Church spoke briefly and the Men's Chorus sang Near the Cross. Next followed reports from the Building Committee and the Finance Committee.

Brother Jakob Thiessen, Vancouver, had us sing Neunundneunzig der Schaffe (There were ninety and nine) and read Psalm 23. With a love that was at the same time serious and urgent the brother asked whether the Lord is my Shepherd and yours. Might He become that today.

After two poems and several more songs by the choirs, Brother Peter Dyck, Sr., had the closing prayer.

In the evening we gathered once more. Four more brethren delivered brief messages and the Yarrow choir served with appropriate songs.

The building is 50 feet by 90 feet and has a basement. Inside it is plastered and the outside is stucco.

Written by one who was present.

(The Zionsbote is asked to copy this report.)

Yarrow MB Church Dedication 1938

Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Parishioners
Exit Sanctuary After Sunday Morning Service

Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Parishioners Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Parishioners

Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church
Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church

Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church
Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church

Fiftieth Anniversary
July 15, 1979
Fiftieth Anniversary, July 15, 1979
Fiftieth Anniversary, July 15, 1979

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary
February 7th, 1954
Eightieth Anniversary
February 1st, 2009
Twenty-fifth Anniversary, February 7th, 1954 Twenty-fifth Anniversary, February 7th, 1954

Three M. B. Church Members Killed EnRoute to Canadian Conference


Yarrow, British Columbia — Funeral services were held Sunday, July 2, for three members of the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church killed June 29 enroute to the annual Canadian Mennonite Brethren Conference.

They were Herbert Martens, an active layman in the congregation; Rev. Peter P. Neufeldt, pastor; and Rev. Walter Sawatsky, conference missionary scheduled to sail to Brazil with his family Monday, July 17.

Collide with Bus

The tragic accident occurred when the vehicle in which the three men were traveling collided with a bus at Bonners Ferry, Idaho, which is near the point where the British Columbia, Idaho and Montana border converge. Martens and Neufeldt were killed instantly and Sawatsky died in a hospital.

The three men were traveling to Coaldale, Alberta, to participate in a day of prayer on Friday and in the sessions of the 1961 Canadian Conference from Saturday to Wednesday.

Martens operated a garage in Yarrow and is survived by Mrs. Martens and two children. Rev. Neufeldt, the father of Mrs. Walter Sawatsky, had served as pastor of the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church since late in 1959. He is survived by Mrs. Neufeldt, a son at home and three married children and their families.

Served in Congo

Surviving Rev. Sawatsky are Mrs. Sawatsky and sons Terrance 6 and Edwin 3.

Following his graduation from Tabor College in 1957, the Sawatskys left for their first term of service in the Congo where they served until 1960 in the Ecole Belle Vue missionary children's school operated jointly by Congo Inland Mission and the Mennonite Brethren Mission. They were given a new assignment by the Mennonite Brethren Church Board of Missions since their early return to the turbulent Congo seemed unlikely and since missionaries are urgently needed in Brazil.


Martens, Herbert.

Neufeldt, Peter P.,

Sawatsky, Walter

Mother's Day May 10, 2009
Mother's Day May 10, 2009 Mother's Day May 10, 2009




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