The Evangelical Mennonite Conference, initially known as the Kleine Gemeinde, had its beginning in the Molotschna Mennonite Colony of southern Russia in 1812. Approximately 200 Kleine Gemeide families emigrated to North America during the 1870s as one part of a larger Mennonite migration. Approximately eighty homesteaded in southern Manitoba, with a smaller group settling in Nebraska. In 1952 the Kleine Gemeinde in Canada changed its name to Evangelical Mennonite Church, and in 1959 to Evangelical Mennonite Conference. While the majority of its Canadian membership still remains in Manitoba, the Evangelical Mennonite Conference now has congregations scattered throughout five provinces in Canada. In 1949 the group organized its first two congregations in Saskatchewan in the communities of Kamsack and Canora. Four more were started during the 1950s (Pelly, Weekes, Heron, and Wymark).
These initiatives took place as a result of significant transitions within the denomination, which included a gradual language change from German to English, the geographical dispersion of its membership, and the influence of evangelical Protestantism, which awakened an interest in missionary activity both in Canada and abroad. The Evangelical Mennonite Conference maintains a theological identity that blends emphases from 16th-century Anabaptism and evangelical Protestantism in North America. The denomination has started a total of fourteen congregations in Saskatchewan, of which six have closed, two have affiliated with other denominations, and six remain in active operation (Pelly, Wymark, Creighton, Hudson Bay, Swift Current, and Endeavour). Membership within the six Saskatchewan congregations is less than 500, which represents approximately 7% of the Canadian membership.
Bruce L. Guenther