Historical Sketch: Peace Church on 52nd

By the early 1930s, Mennonites were moving from rural areas to Vancouver. The leadership of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada decided to send Elder Jacob H. Janzen from Ontario to Vancouver in 1935 to help organize a Mennonite congregation in the city. Jacob and his wife Elisabeth also helped to establish the Mary Martha Girls’ Home to assist young Mennonite women who had in many cases been sent by their families to the city to earn income for the family. Services began in 1935, and the First United Mennonite Church (FUMC) was formally organized in 1937 with 11 charter members, the oldest Mennonite Church in Vancouver.

By the end of the 1940s circumstances produced a total change. World War II had ended and jobs were plentiful. Hundreds of Mennonite immigrants came to BC and many worked in Vancouver and the church filled up. In the summer of 1955 the congregation purchased a larger church building on 659 E. 52nd Avenue. The congregation continues to worship at the same location, with the building have endured a couple of smaller renovations and one major renovation in the early 1980s.

During the early 1950s, the Mountainview Mennonite Church was built and a number of members who preferred English services transferred there. The Sunday school started a missionary project in Richmond and eventually a church was built — Prince of Peace Mennonite Church. Membership in the church continued to grow and by 1965 Sherbrooke Mennonite Church was built and a new church body was organized in 1967. All three daughter congregations received both members and financial support from FUMC.  First United Mennonite and Sherbrooke operated as one until 1968 when the latter became fully independent.

From 95 members in 1950 the membership grew to exceed 500 members in the 1960s and 1970s and into much of the 1980s. The 25th anniversary (1962) records 550 members and a 50th anniversary in 1987 saw some 500 members. Presently membership stands at 270. During the 1960s there were many growing families involved in the congregation. The Sunday school numbered in the hundreds and there was a vibrant Boys Club running as well. In 1986 a Spanish congregation was established; in May 1992 this congregation became a member of the Conference of Mennonites in BC as the First United Spanish Mennonite Church.

With many young people leaving the city for the suburbs, the membership has declined in recent years. The makeup of the church has also changed. There is still a core group that has been at the church since the early 1950s and there are a number of young adults and new immigrants to Canada who also attend. Current ministries include a partnership with six other South Hill churches to provide ESL classes and an ESL “ALPHA” class through Kingcrest International Neighbours. FUMC also partnered with a number of local churches to establish and run the Place of Refuge a transition house for persons with addictions.

In June 2018 the congregation changed its name to Peace Church on 52nd as part of an effort to respond to changes in its local community.

Picture Below:  First United Mennonite Church, Vancouver. 1945

Picture Below:  First United Mennonite Church, Vancouver

 

 

First United Mennonite Leading Ministers

Minister Years of Ministry

Jacob H. Janzen 1935-1937

Jacob B. Wiens 1937-1975

David J. Duerksen 1937-1952

Johann Goertz 1937-1947

Bernhard B. Friesen 1946-1966

Heinrich Goerz 1951-1972

Peter Letkemann 1951-1967

Erwin Cornelsen 1961-1967

Heinz Braun 1968-1974

David Nickel 1969-1983

Peter Neufeld 1972-1990

Henry Unrau 1975-1976

Ken Kehler 1976-1980

Abram Harder 1976-1987

Gene Klassen 1977-1980

Hans Federau 1980-1992

Larry Schram 1982-1989

Hans Krueger 1986-1988

Hans Fast 1986-1997

Paul Boschman 1989

Elden Wiebe 1990-1993

Jacob Tilitzky 1992-1993

Helmut Isaak 1993-2002

Pye Chew 1996-1999

Ingrid Schulz 2000-2012

 Lydia Cruttwell  2012- present
Adam Black  2018- present
 

First United Mennonite Membership

Renamed:  Peach Church on 52nd in 2019

Year Members

1937 11

1940 50

1945 75

1950 95

1955 243

1959 471

1965 568

1975 575

1979 602

1985 539

1990 454

1995 357

2000 324

2005 303

2010 270