Our History

River East Church (formerly River East Mennonite Brethren Church) has a colourful history. We started in 1963 as Sunday School offshoot designed to help new Japanese-Canadians learn English, and this heart for immigrants and refugees continues to this day. Back then a college was located close to our doors, which made us a bit of a haven for students and professors alike. You won’t have to look too hard to see that influence, either.

In 1990 we were the first in our denomination to invite a woman to be our primary pastor, a choice that continues to have reverberations in our community. The equality of all people in the eyes of God is something close to our heart.

We are an Anabaptist church, part of the Mennonite Brethren denomination, which is itself a diverse mash-up of several other church traditions. But we aren’t only Mennonites, and ‘brethren’ doesn’t include the many strong women in our church, so in 2016 we decided to simplify our name to better welcome everyone in our community.

Yet many things have remained constant over our 50+ years. We seek first to follow Jesus’ example and teachings. We are passionate about peace, social justice and reconciliation. We work to embody a Christ-like spirituality that is honest and emotionally healthy. We value the diversity present in all God’s creation, and work hard to include a multitude of voices and viewpoints, even when it isn’t easy.

We believe Christ’s church is here not only to change individual lives, but the whole world.

Yet at the end of the day, we feel something like a family. We don’t pretend we’re perfect, and we’ve been through some hard times together… but whatever comes, we strive to care for one another.

Our Pastoral Staff


Lately, I’ve been learning to watercolor. First, the planning—imagining the picture and sketching it out in pencil. Then the risky, fun part —applying paint…

Read more
Aaron Thiessen

Several years ago, I dragged a few of my friends to an avant-garde jazz concert. Having little exposure to the genre, they approached the…

Read more

In October 2018, I visited the abbey of the Taize community in southern France, where for a week I attended 3 prayer services a…

Read more

Our Wider Community of Faith

We are part of a larger network of faith communities. Here are just a few of them: