Our History

In 1912, an evangelist named Rev. Walter Duff Sr. moved his family from Ireland to the United States. As a young man, Walter Duff Jr. joined in his father’s evangelism efforts and went on to pastor his own large church. However, through the prompting of both his father and his sister, Helen Duff Baugh (founder of Stonecroft Ministries), Walter Duff Jr. committed to spend the rest of his life recruiting and sending out of missionaries to country churches without leadership.

Reverend Duff and a small congregation in 1977
A group of people at an early Village Missions church dedication

Rev. Walter Duff Sr. challenged his son to “send out 100 missionary pastors to rural North America. Thus, on September, 9, 1948, Village Missions was born, a ministry dedicated to sending out missionaries to rural communities across North America with the gospel of Christ. ” During his lifetime, Rev. Duff Jr. directed the sending out of over 600 missionaries.

Ever since, Village Missions has served a variety of rural and urban communities across the United States and Canada. God continues to call us to send out dedicated, called, and gifted Village Missionaries to “Preach the Word and love the people.” Today, Village Missions has 230 Village Missionaries currently serving across the North America. Only heaven can measure the impact this ministry has had on individual lives, communities, churches and the world.

A country church at sunset

Check out the detailed history of Village Missions of Canada in the timeline below.

Reverend Duff Becomes Full-Time Director of Village Missions
Reverend Duff chats with 3 young men.
Through the vision of Helen Baugh, Mary Clark, and Rev. Walter Duff, Jr., and dependence upon God, a ministry uniquely suited to the needs of rural and small communities was developed. Couples were sought who were committed to both an evangelistic and pastoral ministry in rural communities. Some minimal salary support was provided so that the couples could minister full-time in their community. In the early years, the ministry was almost entirely financed as the project of Stonecroft Ministries. The first year the three couples who were friends of Mary Clark were sent out to rural America. When the news began to spread of a missionary society proposing to send out pastors to closed and weak churches, Village Missions began receiving scores of letters asking for help securing a pastor for their church. By 1953, the responsibilities were increasing as more couples were placed, so Rev. Duff left his pastorate to give his full time and effort to the ministry of Village Missions. Rev. Walter Duff, Sr., challenged his son to “send out 100 missionary pastors to rural North America.” Rev. Duff Jr. was able to send out over 600 rural missionaries in his lifetime.
District Representatives Serving Canada
District Representatives Serving Canada

Bob and Margaret Rayburn served as District Representatives early in our history. They were based in the United States, but served Canadian fields as well.

Work in Canada Begins

In 1968, interested Canadians asked if Village Missions would consider the spiritual needs of Canada. Village Missions gave Christine Schuman, a Youth Home Missionary, the commission to survey areas in Canada that needed our ministry. The very first Village Missions field was opened that same year in Willow River, British Columbia. This field was served by Frank & Ruth Fehr.

Now these many years later, Village Missions is providing leadership from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia in many communities and villages. Our motto – One mission – two nations!

First District Representative in Canada
Castle & Joanne Thompson

In the 1980s, the growth rate was not as fast as had been, but God’s hand was obvious on the Mission as it steadily moved forward. Village Missions was now serving 50 fields in the Eastern districts. Castle Thompson was appointed as the first District Representative in Canada in 1980 and the Canadian office operated in association with Stonecroft Ministries Canada in Toronto.

Dr. Jack Canady Becomes CEO
Dr. Jack & Norma Canady

Photo: Dr. Jack and Norma Canady

Village Missions continued to move forward under the leadership of Dr. Jack Canady, who had previously served as a Village Missionary and District Representative. Dr. Jack Canady became the Assistant Director of Village Missions in 1989 and C.E.O. of Village Missions in 1991.

Village Missions partnered with Ecola Bible School and in turn received tuition benefit for children of Village Missionaries. The Development Department was established and a “Fifty New Fields” campaign launched. In 1996, Creative Evangelism, Inc. affiliated with Village Missions.

Walter Duff Jr. Retires
The Duffs around the time of their retirement.

Rev. Walter Duff Jr. officially retired in 1991.

Western Canada District Representative
Roy & Lennie Adrian

Roy Adrian, along with wife Lennie, became the District Representative serving western Canada.

New Regional Administrator
Roy & Lennie Adrian

Roy Adrian stepped into the role of Regional Administrator for Village Missions Canada.

New District Representatives
Bill & Lorna Powell

Bill & Lorna Powell stepped into the District Representative role. They served Village Missions churches in Eastern Canada.

50th Jubilee
Many Village Missionaries attended the 50th Anniversary of Village Missions.

The 50th Jubilee Anniversary of Village Missions was celebrated in Estes Park, CO in 1998, with Dr. Howard Hendricks and Dr Richard Swenson as keynote speakers. Past and present Village Missionaries from Canada and the United States attended.

Canady Retirement
Retirement celebration for Dr. Jack and Norma Canady

Village Missions continued to undergo a time of transition in many ways. To move Village Missions from a Founder/Director to a Chief Executive Officer is no small task and it was accomplished by the gracious, patience of Dr. Jack Canady. Dr. Canady was given a sabbatical in July of 1999 and officially retired in June of 2000.

Rev. Donald Still became the Interim Acting Administrator in July 1999 and served in this position until a new Executive Director was hired in November 2000.

Rev. Brian Wechsler Assumes Leadership
Rev. Brian Wechsler Assumes Leadership

The National Board of United States and Canada selected Rev. Brian Wechsler, as the new Executive Direct of Village Missions and he began his duties in November 2000. He and his wife Carole had been Village Missionaries since 1983, serving first in Iowa and then in Colorado.

Rev. Wechsler outlined a strategy of advance for Village Missions termed “F.I.R.E.”:

  • (F) Finding New Fields
  • (I) Investing in Individuals and Communities
  • (R) Recruiting New Missionaries with a Passion to Preach the Word and Love the People
  • (E) Equipping Missionaries and Churches to Reach Their Communities for Christ

Village Missions must advance in each area to continue its mission of revitalizing small churches and reaching communities for Christ. We must find new areas where a need exists to proclaim the Gospel and the local church is unable to secure pastoral leadership. We must invest in individuals and communities we are trying to reach with the Gospel through salary, logistical, and administrative support for Village Missionaries. We must actively recruit dedicated couples and single missionaries who God has called to our critical ministry. We must equip our Village Missionaries and the churches they serve with the tools to enable them to become effective, Biblically based churches.

Vandermeers Become DRs
Henry & Marilyn Vandermeer

Henry and Marilyn Vandermeer were appointed to fill the position of Western Canada District Representatives.

New Interns
Joe & Laura Letourneau and their 2 children

Joe & Laura Letourneau become interns at Gold River, BC, and start the two-year process of taking the Contenders Discipleship Initiative (CDI) courses.

Contenders Discipleship Initiative is Launched
CDI Logo

Contenders Discipleship Initiative (CDI) is launched as a two-year program offered by Village Missions to equip Christians for ministry within their local church and to prepare those who are called for full-time ministry as missionary pastors.

Forward Again
Forward Again

The Forward Again campaign sought to position Village Missions of Canada to not only stop churches from closing, but to revitalize churches with new missionaries. It used the following goals:

  • Village Missions will train, equip and release 10 new missionaries within two years.
  • Village Missions will be able to give current Village Missionaries a $500.00 per month minimum base raise.
  • We will see a renewal of the vision of Village Missions to see a spiritual awakening in the rural communities of Canada.
  • We will see an increase of prayer for our rural communities sweep across our nation.
Murray Graham Becomes Executive Director
Murray Graham Becomes Executive Director

As Roy & Lennie Adrian retired, Murray & Debbie Graham stepped in to fill the position of Executive Director. This transition happened on July 1, 2016.

New District Representatives
Gordon & Val Rowland

On September 1, 2019, Gordon and Val Rowland began as District Representatives for the Prairie Provinces.