A Brief History
Early in 1980, people with Mennonite backgrounds living in Mississauga and Oakville were surveyed regarding the potential for establishing a Mennonite fellowship in the area. By autumn of that year, this had resulted in meetings every other Sunday evening at South Common Church Campus with up to 25 people attending … to become better acquainted, to worship together, and to explore further the establishment of a more “permanent” fellowship. Some of those in attendance were from Toronto United Mennonite Church, some were from the Yorkdale Mennonite Brethren congregation, and others attended local churches while maintaining membership in Mennonite churches “back home” (Niagara, Leamington, Waterloo …).
Within a year the group felt ready for a better established and regular programme, so it was agreed to meet weekly on Sunday mornings, starting in September, 1981. In preparation, five study / work groups began planning … worship services, education, organization, finances, social and outreach activities, and physical facilities. Each group was represented by one of its participants on a steering committee to provide coordination of various efforts. Issues arising from the work of these groups were discussed within the entire fellowship, and decisions made by consensus.
The first Sunday morning meeting was on September 13, 1981 in a large meeting room of the South Common Community Centre. After the intergenerational worship service, Sunday school groups dispersed to the corners of the room … adults to one corner, and groups of children in the other three corners. Guest speakers served the fellowship twice per month: participants in the fellowship spoke on the remaining Sundays. Fellowship meetings occurred monthly to continue direction of the groups “evolution”, and for social interaction. During that first year, MMF drafted its covenant, then celebrated commitment to it on May 30, 1982.
Also in 1982, facilities in Erindale Secondary School became available for renting on Sunday mornings. MMF seized the opportunity to provide separate spaces for the Sunday school classes. It remained the physical home of MMF until early 2019 when diminishing numbers and increasing rent and restrictions at ESS led to seeking out Erindale United Church’s Gardner Hall as a replacement “home” for MMF.
In the early years, MMF had no hired pastor. A Lay committee served as worship coordinators and in the traditional “Deacons” role. The steering committee served to coordinate overall activities of MMF, including financial aspects. Later on, part-time pastors have been hired to work with the Lay committee on spiritual nurture and development of the Fellowship as well as on outreach.
Participant numbers declined over the years for various reasons. Career changes moved some families to other communities. Maturing MMF children started careers in other communities too. And some aging couples moved away to be nearer their children and grandchildren. New family units joined MMF in the meantime, but not in sufficient numbers to match the decline.
Our family moved to Mississauga in 1987 but we continued to attend our church in Toronto on Sunday mornings, until my son, age 6, declared that he would rather stay home with his father than sit in the back of the car for the long drive to church. So I made an agreement with him and my daughter (age 10) that we would try a local church, one after the other, for a month each until all three of us were ready to say this was the one!
Having Mennonite roots, we began with the Mississauga Mennonite Church that met in Erindale Secondary school. We found the group so open and friendly and caring, that it took only 2 Sundays for all three of us to agree that we had found our church!
I appreciated the involvement in helping lead worship, in the regular fellowship meetings and potluck lunches—even a sermon once a month was delivered by one of the group! Guest speakers helped to broaden our outlook and the regular sharing of joys and concerns helped us to stay connected with what was happening in other people’s lives. Even children got a chance to be part of the worship service with special music, reading the Bible passage, etc.
I am still a faithful participant at MMF — mostly now restricted to Zoom Sunday services. My daughter got married in 2003 and moved to the States but she, her husband and two boys are all active in their church. And that six-year-old son is now the proud dad of a 6-year-old girl and a 3-year-old son who along with his wife regularly attend the Hamilton Mennonite Church, since they now live in Burlington.
We will always be grateful for MMF’s committed example of following Jesus in their worship and in their daily lives.