The Windsor Mennonite Fellowship is the second attempt to establish a Mennonite church in Windsor, Ontario. The first group lasted from 1926 until the mid-40s and never achieved autonomous status, remaining a satellite of the Essex County United Mennonite Church centred in Leamington.
The second attempt began as a church-planting project of the Conference of United Mennonite Churches of Ontario. Henry Paetkau, pastor of the Harrow United Mennonite Church, was appointed to lead this project. First, week-night Bible studies involving interested people were held in the home of Henry and Mary Janzen; these went from September, 1981, to February, 1983.
Then, on November 27, 1983, Sunday evening worship services were formally begun in the basement of Trinity United Church. These services continued until December 30, 1984. On January 6, 1985, the services moved to Sunday mornings and the meeting place shifted to the Remington Booster Community Centre. Since Henry Paetkau then had to withdraw as pastor, Henry P. Epp of Leamington, newly-retired pastor of the St. Catharines United Mennonite Church, assumed the pastoral leadership on an interim basis. The move to the community centre also led to the addition of a Sunday School for all ages.
In 1985 the congregation adopted a constitution, registration as a charitable institution, and, on October 27, celebrated “Membership Sunday,” at which time 13 full members and 4 associate members formally joined to form the core of the Fellowship. On August 1, Jacob W. Dyck was hired as pastor, and he served until July 31, 1987. During his tenure, the first baptism (Cathy Janzen) was held on June 7, 1987. On January 1, 1988, Arthur P. Boers took on the position of pastor and held it until his resignation in April, 1992. An ordination service was held for Arthur on January 8, 1989. During his term of service, the Windsor Mennonite Fellowship was accepted as a member church in the Mennonite Conference of Eastern Canada, and its meeting place changed twice: first, to the AKO Community Centre and then, in 1990, to its own building at 1709 George Avenue.
Here an abandoned laundromat was transformed into a meeting-house, with financial assistance from MCEC and Tenth Man, and volunteer labour from the Leamington and Harrow churches. Within two years, an education wing was added. Mathew Swora served the congregation in an interim preaching capacity in 1993. Erwin Wiens became pastor on September 1, 1993, and held that position until July 2002, when he and his wife Marian left to serve with Mennonite Church Canada in South Korea.
At the annual meeting in January 2003, the membership adopted a revised constitution, which changed the Fellowship’s leadership structure from a traditional church council/ministry council format to an eldership/trustee model.
On September 1, 2003, Phyllis Kramer took over the pastoral leadership and served for about 7 years. A transition period was followed by the calling of Paul Dueck, who has served as pastor since his installation in April 2010. Angelika G. Correa joined Paul as associate pastor in September 2013, marking the first pastoral team for WMF. After Paul Dueck’s departure in August 2014, Angelika G. Correa continued serving WMF until May 2015, when she decided to go into full-time university studies. Susan K. Harrison was then called to serve as pastor starting in September 2015. Rielly McLaren is our current pastor starting with us in 2018.
Our Pastors: Rielly McLaren 2018 – present, Susan K. Harrison 2015-2018, Angelika G. Correa: 2013-2015, Paul Dueck: 2010-2014, Phyllis Kramer: 2003-2010, Erwin Wiens: 1993-2002, Arthur P. Boers: 1988-92, Jacob W. Dyck: 1985-87, Henry P. Epp: 1985, Henry Paetkau: 1981-1983