Rockway Mennonite Church began as a “church plant” by First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ontario in 1960. The first service was held at Rockway Mennonite School on October 2, 1960, when 51 persons met with First Mennonite pastor, Ed Metzler. Rockway was formally accepted as a congregation of the Mennonite Conference of Ontario (part of the North American “Mennonite Church”) in June 1962. The congregation met at Rockway school until 2005, first in the “Old Barn” on the campus, then in the library, and later in a new multi-use space.
Howard Good became part-time pastor at Rockway in October 1961. After his resignation, the congregation looked within its own membership and called John W. Snyder as a half-time Pastor/Coordinator. He began in 1967 and continued his leadersip until 1990. During this time, Rockway Church’s program was largely lay led, with many persons participating in leading worship and preaching. The adult Sunday School class became a sermon discussion group.
Rockway, initially a member of the Mennonite Church, became a “dual-conference” congregation in the mid-1970s, joining the Conference of Mennonites in Canada in 1975 and subsequently the General Conference Mennonite Church, thus anticipating the eventual merger and realignment of these denominations in the late 1990s. Today, Rockway is affiliated regionally with Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, nationally with Mennonite Church Canada, and internationally with Mennonite World Conference.
The 1990s became a time of reassessment of Rockway Mennonite Church’s vision and goals. Allen Rudy-Froese led the congregation for seven years, and there were several interim pastors during this time. Competing demands for space at the school and a sense of congregational stagnation led the congregation to search for a new location to facilitate a renewed vision.
Move to Downtown Kitchener
In Fall 2005, the congregation moved to a shared facility with Zion United Church in downtown Kitchener. Rockway renovated the large Sunday School wing of the historic Zion church building. The shared effort within the congregation to prepare the new space revived spirits, and the location within walking distance for people living in downtown Kitchener brought fresh growth. In 2015, the dwindling Zion congregation dissolved and the church building was sold, forcing Rockway to search for new worship space.
In 2016, the congregation moved to the former Olivet United Church at 47 Onward Avenue in Kitchener, marking the first time Rockway has owned its own church building.
Scott Brubaker-Zehr has served as pastor since 2000. Currently, the congregation has 188 members. There is a quarterly newsletter, and a variety of interest groups. The link with First Mennonite Church continues through cooperative work with youth.
Rockway welcomes visitors and persons seeking a place to worship! Sunday school for all ages is at 9:45 am. Worship is at 11:00 am (10:30 in the summer).