Neufeldt, Peter P. (1911-1961)
Peter P. Neufeldt: churchman, farmer and carpenter; born 14 August 1911 in Rosenwald, Slavgorod Mennonite settlement, Siberia to Peter Jacob Neufeldt (30 October 1872, Annenfeld, Crimea, South Russia - 6 March 1970, Yarrow, British Columbia) and Sara (Wedel) Neufeldt (8 November 1877, Rudnerweide, Molotschna Mennonite settlement, South Russia - 18 October 1947, Yarrow, British Columbia). Peter was one of 12 children, 9 of whom died before the Neufeldts left the Soviet Union.
In 1925 the Neufeldt family was given permission to leave the Soviet Union. Since Peter Jacob had been diagnosed with glaucoma, the family was forced to settle in Vera Cruz, Mexico. However, a year later, the Neufeldts received permission to immigrate to Canada, first settling in Zenata, Saskatchewan. In February 1929 when Peter was an eighteen year-old teenager, his family moved to Yarrow, British Columbia. The perpetual struggle to survive during this time meant that Peter worked long days in logging camps and the local hop yards.
On 15 June 1930 Peter was baptized and joined the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren (MB) Church. A few months later on 16 October 1930 Peter married Helena Enns (14 December 1911, Lichtfelde, Barnaul Mennonite settlement, Asiatic Russia - 18 April 1999, Abbotsford, British Columbia), daughter of Heinrich A. Enns (1883-1976) and Margaretha (Klippenstein) Enns (1888-1977). Their family grew to include four children: Irma, Elfrieda, Harvey and Jerry.
Peter and his wife Helen were able to establish a farm in Yarrow, although he never enjoyed farming. Construction was more to his preference. To capitalize on the post-war construction boom, Peter together with his brothers-in-law John and Henry Enns started a construction company. The enterprise developed into a successful company, building houses and apartments throughout the Fraser Valley.
Peter’s ministry was defined by three overarching causes that he enthusiastically and generously applied himself to. The West Coast Children’s Mission (WCCM) had been organized in 1938 as a Mennonite Brethren evangelistic witness. Over several decades, outpost mission stations were established in some 50 British Columbia communities. The success of this work was such that by 1960, the WCCM had become the official home missions arm for British Columbia Mennonite Brethren. Neufeldt became a vigorous WCCM supporter, generously contributing his own time, personal financial resources, construction expertise, as well as transportation assistance for field workers.
If Peter Neufeldt was concerned for the evangelisation of British Columbians throughout the province, he also felt a deep burden for the youth of his own community. With the collapse of the Sharon Mennonite Collegiate Institute in 1949 (the first Sharon), Yarrow Mennonites moved quickly to establish a second private high school, Sharon Mennonite Collegiate (SMC). Accordingly, the church elected a steering committee with Peter Neufeldt as secretary, and his brother Henry chair. By 1956 Peter succeeded his brother as chair of the board, continuing in this position until his election as senior pastor of the Yarrow MB Church in 1960. Moreover, in 1955 the Peter Neufeldts had a corner of their dairy farm rezoned, donating a choice three-acre building site as the new home of SMC.
Foremost, however, Peter Neufeldt was a dedicated churchman. Following his baptism and acceptance into membership of the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren church in 1930, he became active in congregational ministries. For many years he taught Sunday school and served on the Sunday School Committee. With growing trust, the Church took note of Neufeldt’s character and gifts. On 7 May 1953 he was ordained to the ministry, but not before he apologized to the church for having at one time been a members of a labor union. Increasingly, as he was drawn into the life and leadership of the church, he was included in Sunday morning preaching schedules.
In 1959 Herman Lenzmann resigned as senior pastor of the church. As was evident to all, the still sizeable congregation of just over 600 members could not continue for long without pastoral oversight. On 12 February 1960 an anxious congregation assembled to consider its leadership deficit. Since the Search Committee had been unsuccessful in finding a viable candidate, Neufeldt reluctantly agreed to accept this responsibility with an intuition that his tenure would be short. A year later while traveling to the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Conference convention in Alberta, Peter Neufeldt along with his two traveling companions were killed in a motor vehicle accident in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The date was 26 June 1961. A family was left mourning the loss of their beloved father, and a congregation shaken by the death of such dedicated servants of God.
Giesbrecht, David. "Neufeldt, Peter P. (1911-1961)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2009. Web. 9 Jan 2021.
Chilliwack Progress, July 4, 1961
Area Mourns Triple Fatality 4,000 Attend Yarrow Funeral
Close to 4,000 people attended the massed funeral service on Sunday for Rev, Peter P. Neufeldt, Rev. Walter P. Sawatsky, and Herbert Peter Martens who died as the result of a car accident at Bonners Ferry, Idaho.
In lieu of flowers, donations were made for more than 140 Gideon Bibles. These will be placed by the society in memory of the three well-known and long-time residents of Yarrow.
Only close relatives followed the funeral cortege to the Yarrow cemetery where the interment took place.
Officiating ministers at the combined service in the Mennonite Brethren Church, Yarrow, were Rev. Aron Rempel; Rev. A.H. Wheeler [Wieler], Abbotsford; Rev. J.T. McNair, Chilliwack; Rev. P.R. Toews, Vancouver; Rev. D. Neuman, and missionary H. Brookes [Brucks] who served with Mr. Sawatsky in the Congo.
Mr. Sawatsky was ordained into the ministry a week prior to his death.
Rev. Peter P. Neufeldt was born in Russia on August 7, 1911, and had lived in Yarrow for 32 years where he was the leading minister of the Mennonite Brethren Church.
Pallbearers were N. Boschman, J.A. Martens, A. Martens, J. Reimer, P. Neufeldt, and R. Boschman.
Mr. Neufeldt is survived by his wife Helen, Central Road, Yarrow; two sons, Gerry [Jerry] at home; Harvey, Ontario; two daughters, Mrs. Abe (Elfrieda) Konrad and Mrs. Walter (Erma) [Irma] Sawatsky, Yarrow; four grandchildren; two brothers, Jacob and Henry Neufeldt.
Rev. Walter P. Sawatsky, was born in Mullingar, Sask., on December 26, 1930, but had lived in this district nearly all his life.
Pallbearers were Ervin Janzen, Bert Krause, Dave Loewen, Roland Sawatsky, Vic Neufeld, Jake Enns.
He is survived by his wife Erma [Irma], Central Road, Yarrow; two sons, Terry and Eddie at home; parents, Mr. and Mrs. Peter J. Sawatsky; two brothers, Roland and Victor; four sisters, Mrs. Ervin Janzen; Mrs. D. Loewen; Mrs. Bert Krause and Rita Sawatsky.
Herbert Peter Martens was born in Russia on December 24, 1913, and had lived in Yarrow for 32 years. He was the proprietor of Martens Motors, Yarrow.
Pallbearers were Walter Martens, John Martens, Ernie Neuman, Corny Langeman, David Martens and William Martens.
He is survived by his wife Frieda, 1013 Eckert Road, Yarrow; one son Allan, and a daughter Peggy, at home; father, Peter [Petrus] Martens, Yarrow; a brother, Jacob Martens, Yarrow; sister, Mrs. Corny Langeman, Vancouver; three half-sisters, Mrs. Ernie Neuman, Mrs. Art Bourne, Mrs. Bill Cornies; two half brothers, Walter and John Martens, Vancouver.
Garden Chapel Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.