History

A Brief History of Pioneer Park Christian Fellowship
(formerly The Weber Mennonite Church, Strasburg)

By the end of the 18th century, land in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania was becoming expensive and scarce and Mennonites who followed the tradition of pro¬viding farms for their children found it increasingly difficult to acquire the needed land. The cheaper land available in Upper Canada became a live alterna¬tive and in 1805 Abraham Cressman, then only seventeen, drove a four horse team from Pennsylvania to a 600 acre tract of land near the Williamsburg Road, owned by his step father Philip Bliehm. When he was married in 1810, Abraham acquired 200 acres at Strasburg, later known to us as the farms owned by his descendants Adam and Josiah Cressman, bordering the Pioneer Village.

The earliest families to settle in the Strasburg area were Cressman, Stauffer, Weaver or Weber, Biehn, Wismer, Steckle (originally Stoekle) and Snider. These families first met informally in homes for worship and fellowship before the establishment of .a church. Apparently, they met regularly at the David Weber home directly across from our church building, now known as the Ermel house. This took place from 1833 into the 1840’s when a meetinghouse was built for worship. Some believe that a log meetinghouse was already built in the late 1830’s and used until the new frame building was completed around 1848, In 1837 a deacon, David Sherk, was ordained to serve the group and one year later was ordained as minister. In 1840 John Steckle became the minister.

The weber church as originally designed

The Huron Road was built about 1833, providing a main artery through South-western Ontario, opening up the area as we know it today. Although the actual date for the establishment of our congregation is not known, we know that David Weber donated one acre of land in 1842 to provide a building site for a perma-nent place of worship and a cemetery for the newly organized congregation, It became known as the Weber Mennonite Church. A deed for this property was drawn up March 23, 1854 and is in safe keeping for the congregation. David Weber’s wife was Mary Lyons. A few members of this family are interred in the adjoining cemetery.

In 1894 a new brick building was constructed under the leadership of mini¬ster Noah Stauffer. Several improvements were made to the building over the years. A complete renovation and enlargement was carried out in 1971 72 to serve the needs of the growing congregation. During this time, October 17, 1971 through January 23, 1972 the congregation met at the Herbert Feick home on Doon Village Road. An additional acre of land behind the existing lot was purchased from one of our members, Clifford Snider, in 1951. In 1976 a 65′ section bordering the south of the property was received from the Major Holdings Development Company for a one dollar transfer fee.

The newly renovated and enlarged church as seen from the rear of the building ~ 1972

The Strasburg community changed rapidly in the late 1970’s when many local farms were purchased by the City of Kitchener and private land developers for residential and industrial expansion. This affected several church families and as they moved away the congregation dwindled to thirty-five people. These were difficult and discouraging times, and the little country church faced a crucial decision, either to close its doors or open them wider.

The Weber congregation, often referred to as the Strasburg Church, changed its name in 1972 to “Pioneer Park Christian Fellowship Mennonite,” as part of its desire to identify geographically with Kitchener’s new Pioneer Park subdivision being rapidly developed and to relate to the new community spiritually. Ironically, for a time the congregation again used its original place of meeting, the Weber house, for its Christian Education program. By 1980 a new brick building was built beside the original meeting place, and the old facility dismantled.

Congregation_old

Name Years
of Service
David Sherk 1838-1840
John Steckle 1840-1879
Noah Stauffer 1876-1928
Isaiah Wismer 1906-1933
Jesse B. Martin 1925-1929
Simon Martin 1930-1958
Lester Bauman 1958-1964
Stanley Sauder 1965-1968
Jesse B. Martin
(Interim)
1968-1969
Darrell D. Jantzi 1969-1985
Rufus Jutzi
(Interim)
1985-1986
Brian Laverty 1986-2011
Johanna Wall 2011-Present