MBHC In cooperation with these MB archival centres:
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Fresno, CA
CMBS
Hillsboro, KS
CMBS
Winnipeg, MB
MHSBC
Abbotsford, BC

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News releases


March 1, 2017

Summer 2017 archival intern announced

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Jordan Duerrstein is the recipient of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission’s summer archival internship for 2017. The selection committee chose Jordan from several strong candidates from various universities and colleges in the US and Canada.

Jordan Duerrstein

Jordan Duerrstein

As intern, Jordan will spend a total of five weeks visiting each of the MB archival centers in North America (Fresno, Hillsboro, Winnipeg, and Abbotsford) during the months of May and June. In addition to discovering the unique character of each of these Mennonite archives, he will explore the stories and images housed in them, especially pursuing his interest in Mennonite communal life: the theology that shaped it initially, the ways it has changed over time, and the prospects for forming intentional communities of faith today.

“We are very pleased to award the archival internship to Jordan. Hopefully it will be a rich experience for him and one that provides insights for the Commission, too. We see this as another part of our mandate to document and communicate the story of God’s work among us,” says Don Isaac, chair of the Historical Commission.

Jordan is a seminary student at Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto, having completed both BEd and BMus degrees. Scott Street MB Church and Southridge Community Church in St. Catharines, Ontario, are both places he calls home. FreeChurch Toronto is where he currently serves as a pastoral intern. Jordan and his wife, Danielle, enjoy finding ways to combine downtown missional community living with Christian ministry.

The summer internship is made possible with support from US and Canadian Mennonite Brethren Churches.

—Jon Isaak, Executive Secretary


January 5, 2017

Project and archival grants awarded

Winnipeg, ManitobaStephanie Chase, Abe J. Dueck, Zacharie Leclair, and Conrad Stoesz are the 2016 recipients of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission’s MB studies project grants. Each award comes with a grant of $2,500. The selection committee chose the four from a strong field of applicants, all working on projects of historical and theological interest to Mennonite Brethren around the world.

Stephanie Chase

Stephanie Chase

Stephanie is an MA student at Briercrest Seminary (Caronport, SK). Her project title is The Jesus of Whom I Speak: The Reconciliation of Nonviolent Discipleship and God’s Violence, According to J. Denny Weaver and Miroslav Volf. Stephanie’s project grows from wrestling with an Anabaptist-Mennonite commitment to nonviolent discipleship and a troubling awareness of Scripture’s presentation of God in violent images. The project is a comparative study of the work of Miroslav Volf and J. Denny Weaver, paying attention to how they reconcile nonviolent discipleship and God’s violence. While distinctive, each scholar’s Christology, theological lenses, and hermeneutical methods appear significant in the respective reconciliations of the problem. She hopes to leverage her discoveries in order to construct a more robust Anabaptist-Mennonite theology of nonviolent discipleship.

Abe J. Dueck

Abe J. Dueck

Abe is a retired college professor from Canadian Mennonite University (Winnipeg, MB). His project title is The Mennonite Brethren Bible College (1944–1992): Competing Visions for Mennonite Brethren Education in Canada. The MB Bible College in Winnipeg was the primary educational institution of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches for the formative period of the Conference following the massive immigration of Russian Mennonites in the 1920s. As such it prepared most of the leaders, pastors, Bible school and MB high school teachers, missionaries and musicians for most of the period. It was succeeded for almost ten years by Concord College and then by Canadian Mennonite University. A comprehensive history of the MBBC period (1944-1992), one that documents a period that was marked by contested visions for what college, university, and ministry education should look like, has not been written. Abe’s project addresses this gap.

Zacharie Leclair

Zacharie Leclair

Zacharie lectures in US History at the Université de Montréal in Quebec. His project title is “Unconscientious” Objectors? Woodrow Wilson, Conscription, and Mennonite Conscientious Objectors, 1917–1918. Zacharie’s project aims at understanding US President Woodrow Wilson’s response to American Mennonites’ objection to war. Although Wilson conceived of the American intervention as an ultimately pacifistic endeavor, waging war against Germany required a complete mobilization of American society. The Mennonite conscientious objectors posed an intellectual, spiritual, and political problem for such a devout Protestant president as Wilson. While discrete and relatively small, their critique and persistent peaceful disobedience undermined the intellectual scaffolding of the Wilsonian justification of the war. By exploring how Wilson handled the Mennonite “problem,” Zacharie hopes to find ways to improve the reception of divergent opinions in a society shaped by media culture and to better understand the impact minority groups might have on policy making in contemporary settings.

Conrad Stoesz

Conrad Stoesz

Conrad is an MA student in the joint program at University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba, and an archivist working halftime at the Mennonite Heritage Centre and halftime at the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, both in Winnipeg. His project title is The Creation of Identity: Mennonite Conscientious Objectors in Western Canada through the Lens of Archives, A National Historical Society, and Memoirs. Using material from historical societies, archives, and memoirs as sources, Conrad plans to trace the intra- and extra-group forces in play and show how Mennonite identity was reinvented according to these contextual forces. His project takes a historical approach but creates a bridge between the disciplines of archives and history. He hopes his research can help contemporary Mennonite faith communities engage their own complex cultural identity, something that is not static, but continually shaped by both societal and group forces.

The Historical Commission is pleased to make these awards, noting that these projects represent the kind of work that it wants to support, encourage, and fund.

In November 2016, the Commission also awarded the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan a $2,000 archival development grant in support of its application to help pay for needed archival supplies. The Society’s archive is located in Saskatoon. This is the first year that archival development grants have been offered. The grants are available to Mennonite archives operating in Canada and the US, as well as those operating outside of Canada and the US.

Also, 25 books of historical interest to Mennonite Brethren—books published by the Historical Commission and Kindred Productions—have been moved to a Creative Commons license and converted to online readable e-books. The number of books in the online library, accessible through the Commission’s website, now totals 58.

The MB studies project grants, archival development grants, and digital historical library are made possible with support from US and Canadian Mennonite Brethren Churches. See www.mbhistory.org for information about these awards, grants, internships, and digital libraries—just some of the initiatives put forward by the MB Historical Commission.

—Jon Isaak, Executive Secretary


August 19, 2016

Historical Commission awards 2016 Katie Funk Wiebe research grant

Doug Heidebrecht

Doug Heidebrecht

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Doug J. Heidebrecht is the 2016 recipient of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission’s Katie Funk Wiebe research grant. After the annual general meeting held this year in Abbotsford, British Columbia (June 3–4, 2016), the Commission awarded the grant to Doug Heidebrecht for his research project: Sisters Leading Brothers? Mennonite Brethren and Women in Ministry Leadership.

The Commission was impressed with the project design and its potential for understanding better the experience of Mennonite Brethren engagement with the question of women in church ministry leadership. The project focuses on the years between 1954 and 2010.

According to Heidebrecht, “over a period of fifty years, Mennonite Brethren have attempted to respond to questions about the role of women in the church through four study conferences (1974, 1980, 1989, 2004-05) and in nine resolutions (1957, 1975, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1999, 2006). These have often been difficult and even painful conversations. No other issue has received this level of attention by Mennonite Brethren during the second half of the twentieth century.”

Heidebrecht plans to complete a manuscript that “would not only tell the story of the Mennonite Brethren journey regarding the issue of women in ministry leadership but also, through careful reflection, offer suggestions for how Mennonite Brethren can continue to read the Scriptures together as they seek to live faithfully as God’s people.”

“Doug’s research documents the long history of how women have served in the Mennonite Brethren church, noting both the affirmations and restrictions that have come along the way based on particular ways of reading Scripture. A project like this honours the path that Katie Funk Wiebe has charted, reminding us of the gifts that both men and women can bring to the church,” says Don Isaac, Commission chair.

The $2,000 research grant is made possible with support from the Katie Funk Wiebe fund. For more information, see the Commission website.

—Jon Isaak, Executive Secretary


June 8, 2016

Historical Commission rolls out more funded initiatives

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Reflections from a summer intern, a book launch, several new grants, and a tour of the new Mennonite Heritage Museum were all part of the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission that took place on June 3 and 4 in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

The Commission works with a network of four Mennonite Brethren archival centers: Center for M.B. Studies (Hillsboro, Kansas), Mennonite Library & Archives (Fresno, California), Mennonite Historical Society of B.C. (Abbotsford, B.C.), and Centre for M.B. Studies (Winnipeg, Manitoba).

M.B. Historical Commission 2016 annual general meeting: (l to r): Andrew Brown (summer intern), J Janzen, Richard Thiessen, Patricia Janzen Loewen, Don Isaac, Dora Dueck, Julia Reimer, Hannah Keeney, Jon Isaak, and Peggy Goertzen. Missing members include: Valerie Rempel and Kevin Enns-Rempel.

M.B. Historical Commission 2016 annual general meeting: (l to r): Andrew Brown (summer intern), J Janzen, Richard Thiessen, Patricia Janzen Loewen, Don Isaac, Dora Dueck, Julia Reimer, Hannah Keeney, Jon Isaak, and Peggy Goertzen. Missing members include: Valerie Rempel and Kevin Enns-Rempel.

Photo credit: Mary Ann Quiring

This year’s AGM was hosted by the Mennonite Heritage MuseumOutside link. The four archives reported on various projects that each is developing. These include book publications, digitization projects, acquisitions of church and family records, consulting on research projects, and conferences. Of special note was the growing collection of scanned historical photos on the Mennonite Archival Image DatabaseOutside link.

Andrew Brown, this year’s student archival intern, reported on his summer internship so far. He is spending one week at each archive, helping with ongoing archival tasks and doing his own research on Mennonite refugees of conflict and war.

Daughters in the House of Jacob cover

Dorothy Peters and Christine Kampen’s book Daughters in the House of Jacob was launched during the weekend in the lobby of the Mennonite Heritage Museum.

About 130 people gathered on Saturday afternoon to hear the authors describe how they, a Bible professor and a pastor, trace the migration of their vocational calling across generations and gender, back to their Bible teaching-preaching grandfather Jacob and to their unforgettable great-grandmother Agatha. The authors interviewed elder-storytellers and investigated leads through a trail of letters, pictures, and documents, while reflecting on their own journeys and solving a few mysteries along the way. Copies of this Commission publication are available from Kindred ProductionsOutside link.


Christine Kampen (l) and Dorothy Peters (r) read selections from their new book, Daughters in the House of Jacob, during the book’s launch on June 4, 2016, in Abbotsford at the new Mennonite Heritage Museum.

Photo credit: Janice Driedger

At the AGM, the Commission agreed to continue funding the four initiatives that it has developed in recent years (archival internship, Katie Funk Wiebe research grant, M.B. studies project grant, and J.B. Toews college scholarships). Application criteria and submission dates for these will again be available on the Commission’s website by the end of summer.

The Commission also agreed at the AGM to roll out three new funded initiatives: 1) grants to support development of Mennonite archives in countries outside of the U.S. and Canada; 2) grants to support projects initiated by Mennonite archives in U.S. and Canada; and 3) grants to encourage writers to submit encyclopedia articles (biographies of individuals and congregational histories) for publication in the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia OnlineOutside link. Application criteria and submission dates for these will also be available on the Commission’s website by the end of summer.

Since its formation in 1969, the Commission has helped coordinate the collection, preservation, and interpretation of Mennonite Brethren archival records: congregational meeting minutes, conference proceedings, personal papers, periodicals, and photographs.

More information about the work of the Commission, a funded ministry of both the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, is available on its website and Facebook pageOutside link.

—Jon Isaak, Executive Secretary


February 19, 2016

Summer 2016 archival intern announced

Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Andrew Brown is the recipient of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission’s summer archival internship for 2016. The selection committee chose Andrew from several strong candidates from various universities and colleges.

As intern, Andrew will spend a total of five weeks visiting each of the MB archival centers in North America (Fresno, Hillsboro, Winnipeg, and Abbotsford) during the months of May and June. In addition to discovering the unique character of each of these Mennonite archives, he will explore the stories and images housed in them, especially pursuing his interest in the MB experience of World War II in the US and Canada, and with North American politics in general.

“We are very pleased to award the archival internship to Andrew. We hope it will be a rich experience for him and that it will provide insights for the Commission, too. We see this as another part of our mandate to document and communicate the story of God’s work among us,” says Don Isaac, chair of the Historical Commission.

Andrew is a senior student completing a BA degree (History and Political Studies) in April 2016 at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Manitoba. He has aspirations of becoming a high school history teacher, hopefully teaching Canadian history and Mennonite history.

The summer internship is made possible with support from US and Canadian Mennonite Brethren Churches.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary


December 15, 2015

MB studies project grants awarded

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Anicka Fast, Harold Jantz, and Jayaker Yennamalla are the 2015 recipients of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission’s MB studies project grants. The selection committee chose the three from a strong field of applicants, all working on projects of historical and theological interest to Mennonite Brethren around the world.

Anicka Fast

Anicka Fast

Anicka is a doctoral student in Mission Studies at Boston University School of Theology and comes from Montreal. She worked with Mennonite Central Committee in DR Congo for three years. Anicka’s research interests include intercultural reconciliation and power balancing in the global church, Anabaptist missiology and ecclesiology, the history of the missionary encounter in DR Congo, and African political theology. Her grant in the amount of $2,865 will be disbursed in May 2016. Anicka’s project title is “Identity and power in mission: a study of cross-cultural relationships among North American and Congolese Mennonites.”

Harold Jantz

Harold Jantz

Harold is from Winnipeg and served for many years as the editor (1964–1985) of the Mennonite Brethren Herald and later as founding editor/publisher of ChristianWeek. His project involves translating and publishing selected letters, formal reports, news stories, lists, and commentary that appeared in the weekly German-language newspaper, Mennonitische Rundschau, from the beginning of 1929 to the end of 1930. These materials document the factors that led thousands of German Russians, most of them Mennonites, to abandon their homes in the desperate hope that authorities in Moscow would issue them the passes allowing them to leave Russia. Nearly six thousand were granted the passes, perhaps twice as many had their requests denied. Harold’s published translations will make the many items accessible to a new generation of English readers. His grant is for $1,750. Harold’s project title is “Flight through Moscow: a Rundschau Reader.”

Jayaker Yennamalla

Jayaker Yennamalla

Jayaker is a doctoral student at the Federated Faculty for Research in Religion and Culture (Serampore College) in Kottayam, Kerala, India. He is also a Church History lecturer at the Mennonite Brethren Centenary Bible College in Shamshabad, India. Jayaker’s research interests include the Mennonite Brethren missionary movement’s impact on social change in India (South Telangana), the Dalit Christian experience of socio-cultural, political, and economic transformation, and the contribution of indigenous Christian workers in bringing about social change. His grant is for $1,250. Jayaker’s project title is “Mennonite Brethren Mission for social change in South Telangana (1899–1958).”

The Historical Commission is pleased to make these awards, noting that these projects represent the kind of work that it wants to support, encourage, and fund.

The MB studies project grants are made possible with support from US and Canadian Mennonite Brethren Churches. See www.mbhistory.org for information on these awards and other research grants and internships offered by the MB Historical Commission.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary


June 23, 2015

Commission meets and awards Katie Funk Wiebe research grant

Rachel Twigg Boyce

Rachel Twigg Boyce

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Rachel Twigg Boyce is the 2015 recipient of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission’s Katie Funk Wiebe research grant. At the annual general meeting held this year in Fresno, California (June 12–13, 2015), the Commission awarded the grant to Twigg Boyce, currently pastor of House Blend Ministries, an intentional Christian community in Winnipeg that is now seven years old.

The Commission was impressed with the project design and its potential for understanding better this particular story of Mennonite Brethren women in ministry leadership. The project focuses on the story of how House Blend Ministries came to be, pulling together their experiences of forming, maintaining, and promoting Christian intentional communities in urban centers.

Twigg Boyce plans “to write a comprehensive version of the House Blend story to be used in-house in our community. This would include the story of our development with direct reference and reflection on the work of others that have influenced us. This is a project I have been chipping away at for a number of years but the busyness of the creation of this ministry has not allowed for the focused time this project truly requires.”

Later, she plans to publish the House Blend Story for a wider audience, aiming to provide a resource for others on how to start their own intentional Christian communities.

“Rachel’s research will encourage us to pay attention to the different ways that men and women live out God’s mission in our cities. It honors the path Katie Funk Wiebe has taken in reminding us of the gifts both men and women can bring to the church,” says Don Isaac, Commission chair.

The $2,000 research grant is made possible with support from the Katie Funk Wiebe fund. For more information, see the Commission website.

My Emigrant Father

Also at the annual meeting, the Commission was pleased to announce the release of Katie Funk Wiebe’s memoir of her father’s life, My Emigrant Father: Jacob J. Funk, 1896–1986. It is a story of struggle against oppressive regimes, of deepening faith in God through it all, and a particularly sharp critique of the kinds of divisive behaviors her father saw exercised by church leaders in Russia and in Canada.

It is not surprising that some of Wiebe’s own capacity to point out injustice, challenge oppressive structures, and advocate for those on the margins is rooted in her experience with her father. That comes out clearly in this book.

The Commission is particularly pleased to have taken on this publication project and commends it to readers interested in better understanding both the challenges and opportunities that Mennonite Brethren represent. See Kindred Productions websiteOutside link to order copies at the special promotional price of $20.

At the annual meeting, the Commission also heard reflections from this summer’s archival intern, Liz Wittrig, considered future manuscripts for publication, agreed to launch a fourth funded initiative, and toured an impressive fruit packing enterprise in Reedley, California.

Besides the three currently funded initiatives – the archival internship, the Katie Funk Wiebe research grant, and the MB studies project grant – the Commission agreed to launch a new funded initiative: five $1,000 college scholarships. They are designed to recognize post-secondary students affiliated with an MB church currently studying at MB-supported colleges in North America and showing promise for service and ministry. Watch for details soon to be released on the Commission website.

Back row L to R: Don Isaac (chair), J Janzen, Dora Dueck (vice chair), Jon Isaak (executive secretary), Kevin Enns-Rempel, Julia Reimer, and Richard Thiessen. Front row L to R: Peggy Goertzen, Hannah Keeney, Patricia Loewen.

Back row L to R: Don Isaac (chair), J Janzen, Dora Dueck (vice chair), Jon Isaak (executive secretary), Kevin Enns-Rempel, Julia Reimer, and Richard Thiessen. Front row L to R: Peggy Goertzen, Hannah Keeney, Patricia Loewen.

Photo credit: Liz Wittrig.

The Commission works with a network of four archival centers, offering research and archiving services to MB congregations in North America. The four include: Center for MB Studies (Hillsboro, Kansas), Center for MB Studies (Fresno, California), Centre for MB Studies (Winnipeg, Manitoba), and Mennonite Historical Society of BC (Abbotsford, British Columbia).

Since its formation in 1969, the Commission has helped coordinate the collection, preservation, and interpretation of Mennonite Brethren archival records – congregational meeting minutes, conference proceedings, personal papers, periodicals, and photographs.

More information about the work of the Commission is available on its website and Facebook pageOutside link.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary


February 24, 2015

Summer 2015 archival intern announced

Liz Wittrig

Liz Wittrig

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Liz Wittrig is the recipient of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission’s summer archival internship for 2015. The selection committee chose Liz from several strong candidates from Mennonite universities and colleges in the US and Canada.

As intern, Liz will spend a total of five weeks visiting each of the MB archival centers in North America (Fresno, Hillsboro, Winnipeg, and Abbotsford) during the months of June and July. In addition to discovering the unique character of each of these Mennonite archives, she will explore the stories and images housed in them, especially pursuing her interest in women’s voices in relation to the Anabaptist peace witness.

“We are very pleased to award the archival internship to Liz. We hope it will be a rich experience for her and that it will provide insights for the Commission, too. We see this as another part of our mandate to document and communicate the story of God’s work among us,” says Don Isaac, chair of the Historical Commission.

Liz is a senior student completing a BA degree (Bible, Religion, and Philosophy) in May 2015 at Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana. She is also currently completing an internship at the Mennonite Church USA Archives in Goshen, collecting and summarizing primary sources and assisting in exhibit creation.

The summer internship is made possible with support from US and Canadian Mennonite Brethren Churches.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary, Historical Commission


December 22, 2014

2014 Mennonite Brethren studies project grants awarded

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Nina Schroeder, Gil Dueck, and Andrew Dyck are the 2014 recipients of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission’s first MB studies project grants. Each award comes with a grant of $2,500. The selection committee chose the three from a strong field of applicants all working on projects of historical and theological interest to Mennonite Brethren around the world.

Nina Schroeder

Nina Schroeder

Nina is a member of the River East Mennonite Brethren Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and a PhD student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Her project title is Picturing Anabaptism: Mennonites and the Art Market in the Dutch Golden Age. Nina is exploring 17th-century Mennonite artistic engagement and how it contributed to Anabaptist cultural and religious heritage. She hopes the project “will shed new light on a period of Anabaptist history that has many fascinating parallels with the current urban Mennonite experience in North America.”

Gil Dueck

Gil Dueck

Gil teaches at Bethany College in Hepburn, Saskatchewan, and is a PhD candidate at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, Netherlands. His project title is Faith Development in Emerging Adulthood: Toward a Developmental Theological Anthropology. Gil is pairing a theological engagement with the question of faith development among emerging adults, paying particular attention to the Canadian Mennonite Brethren context. He hopes “this research can both fill an existing ‘developmental gap’ in the theological anthropology of the Canadian Mennonite Brethren church, while affirming and clarifying its historic emphasis on personal, experiential faith.”

Andrew Dyck

Andrew Dyck

Andrew teaches at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and is also a PhD candidate at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, Netherlands. His project title is The Place of Contemplative Practices within the Spirituality of Canadian Mennonite Brethren. Andrew is making a detailed description of the spiritual life of Mennonite Brethren over the past 165 years, including ways in which Mennonite Brethren have appropriated practices from other Christian groups. He hopes the project will promote “engagements marked by generosity, discernment, and integrity among people of diverse Christian traditions.”

The Historical Commission is pleased to make these awards, noting that these projects represent the kind of work that it wants to support, encourage, and fund.

The MB studies project grants are made possible with support from US and Canadian Mennonite Brethren Churches. See www.mbhistory.org for information on these awards and other research grants and internships offered by the MB Historical Commission.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary


July 21, 2014

Project grant, archival internship, and research grant for 2014–2015

Winnipeg, Manitoba—The Historical Commission of the US and Canadian Mennonite Brethren Churches announces three funded initiatives for 2014–2015.

The first is a Project Grant of up to $2,000 in support of a historical and/or theological project of interest to Mennonite Brethren around the world. This grant is new this year and the application deadline is November 17, 2014.

The second is a Summer Archival Internship, designed to give a college or graduate student practical archival experience at each of the four Mennonite Brethren archival institutions in North America. Spanning five weeks during May and June 2015 (exact dates to be determined), the intern will spend a week at each of the MB archives (Winnipeg, Hillsboro, Fresno, and Abbotsford). Airfare and accommodations are included along with a $2,000 stipend.

The third is a Research Grant of $2,000 in support of research and publication relating to the history and contribution of Mennonite Brethren women. The grant is made possible by generous support from the Katie Funk Wiebe Fund.

Criteria and application details for these funded initiatives are available at www.mbhistory.org.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary


June 6, 2014

Historical Commission launches new research initiatives

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Reflections from an archival intern, decisions on new initiatives, and a tour of one of the first Mennonite Brethren meeting places in North America were all part of the annual general meeting of the MB Historical Commission in Hillsboro, Kansas, May 30–31, 2014.

The Commission works with a network of four archival centers, offering research and archiving services to MB congregations in North America. The four include: Center for MB Studies (Hillsboro, Kansas), Center for MB Studies (Fresno, California), Centre for MB Studies (Winnipeg, Manitoba), and Mennonite Historical Society of BC (Abbotsford, British Columbia).


M.B. Historical Commission 2013–2014: (standing l to r): J Janzen, Jon Isaak (executive secretary), Abe Dueck, Yoshio Fujii (archival intern), Wilmer Harms (Hillsboro advisory council), Dora Dueck (vice chair); (sitting l to r): Valerie Rempel (recording secretary), Don Isaac (chair), Julia Reimer, Richard Thiessen, and Peggy Goertzen.

Photo by Jon Isaak.

At this year’s AGM, each archive reported on various new ventures – new construction in Abbotsford, new website in Winnipeg, new archivist in Fresno, and book publication in Hillsboro.

Historic Hillsboro MB Church, built in 1893.

Historic Hillsboro MB Church, built in 1893.

Photo by Richard Thiessen.

Yoshio Fujii, this year’s archival intern, reported on his summer internship. He spent one week at each archive, helping with ongoing archival tasks and doing his own research on Mennonite Brethren mission theology in Japan. Yoshio is a pastor/teacher from Japan who graduated in May with an MDiv degree from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. He is the second archival intern; the internship was first launched in 2013. At the AGM, the Commission agreed to fund the program again in 2015. Watch for notices this fall on the Commission website.

Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas, administration building, built in 1920. The AGM was held in the library & archives building nearby.

Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas, administration building, built in 1920. The AGM was held in the library & archives building nearby.

Photo by Richard Thiessen.

Besides the two funded initiatives – the archival internship and the Katie Funk Wiebe research grant – the Commission agreed to launch a new funded initiative: the MB studies project grant. It is designed to support historical and theological research and publication on topics of interest to MBs globally. Watch for details soon to be released on the Commission website.

In addition, ongoing digitizing and publication projects were also approved at the AGM, advancing the service that the archival centers can offer their constituencies.

On Saturday afternoon, the Commission toured several landmarks of the first MB communities in the area: Hillsboro, Gnadenau, Florence, and Peabody. The tour reminded the Commission of the value of preserving, interpreting, and making accessible the stories and records related to one particular segment of God’s people, the segment known as Mennonite Brethren.

Commemorative cairn recognizing the Gnadenau village location near Hillsboro. Elder Jacob Wiebe led 34 families from Crimea to start a Mennonite Brethren village here in 1874.

Commemorative cairn recognizing the Gnadenau village location near Hillsboro. Elder Jacob Wiebe led 34 families from Crimea to start a Mennonite Brethren village here in 1874.

Photo by J Janzen.

Since its formation in 1969, the Commission has helped coordinate the collection, preservation, and interpretation of Mennonite Brethren archival records – congregational meeting minutes, conference proceedings, personal papers, periodicals, and photographs.

More information about the work of the Commission is available on its website and Facebook page.

—Jon Isaak, Executive Secretary


February 20, 2014

Summer 2014 archival intern announced

Yoshio Fujii

Yoshio Fujii

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Yoshio Fujii is this year’s recipient of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission’s archival internship. The selection committee chose Yoshio from a strong field of candidates from various universities and colleges in the US and Canada.

As intern, Yoshio will spend a total of five weeks visiting each of the MB archival centers in North America (Fresno, Hillsboro, Winnipeg, and Abbotsford) during the months of May and June, 2014. In addition to experiencing a functioning archive, he will explore the stories and images housed in these church archives, especially as they relate to the church in Japan.

“We are very pleased to award Yoshio the archival internship. We hope that he will find this an enriching experience and that it will also provide insights for the Commission, as we document and communicate the story of God’s work in our world,” says Don Isaac, chair of the Historical Commission.

Yoshio is a Japanese graduate student completing an MDiv degree in May at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California.

The internship is made possible with support from US and Canadian Mennonite Brethren Churches.

—Jon Isaak, Executive Secretary, Historical Commission


October 15, 2013

Archival internship and research grant for 2014 announced

Winnipeg, Manitoba—The Historical Commission of the U.S. and Canadian Mennonite Brethren Churches announces that it will again offer two funded initiatives for 2014.

The first is an “Open Research Grant” of $1,500 in support of research and publication relating to the history and contribution of Mennonite Brethren women. The Grant is made possible by generous support from the Katie Funk Wiebe Fund.

The second is a “Summer 2014 Archival Internship,” designed to give a college student practical archival experience at each of the four Mennonite Brethren archival institutions in North America. Spanning five weeks during May and June (exact dates to be determined), the intern will spend a week at each of the MB archives (Winnipeg, Hillsboro, Fresno, and Abbotsford). Airfare and accommodations are included along with a $2,000 stipend.

Criteria and application details for both of these funded initiatives are available at www.mbhistory.org.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary


June 24, 2013

Katie Funk Wiebe research grant awarded

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Christine Kampen and Dorothy Peters are this year’s recipients of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission’s research grant. At the annual general meeting earlier this month, the Commission selected the project proposal co-authored by Kampen and Peters.

Christine Kampen, Dorothy Peters

Christine Kampen, Dorothy Peters

The Commission was impressed with the project design, the research question, and the potential for understanding better the particular story of Mennonite Brethren. The project title is: From Generation to Generation: The History and Transmission of the Spiritual Formation of Two Granddaughters.

Kampen and Peters’s project studies the history of the Christian spiritual formation of two Mennonite Brethren (MB) women, one serving as a co-pastor in an MB church (Kampen, Highland Community Church, Abbotsford, BC) and the other a writer and professor of Biblical Studies (Peters, Trinity Western University, Langley, BC).

Of special interest to Kampen and Peters is the “legacy of leadership” they received from their grandparents and parents. The study will combine oral interviews, analysis of contextual factors, and theological reflection on the process of writing a “history of spiritual formation” as MB women leaders.

“Kampen and Peters’s research will encourage us to listen to and record the living history of men and women ‘elders’ in our families and the MB Church. It honors the path Katie Funk Wiebe has taken in reminding us of the gifts both men and women can bring to the church,” says Don Isaac, Commission chair.

The $1,500 research grant is made possible with support from the Katie Funk Wiebe fund. For more information, see www.mbhistory.org.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary


June 14, 2013

Historical Commission meets to deliberate and celebrate

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Reflections from a summer intern, a book launch, and a visit to the construction site of the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights were all part of the annual general meeting of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission.

The Commission works with a network of four Mennonite Brethren archival centers: Center for M.B. Studies (Hillsboro, Kan.), Center for M.B. Studies (Fresno, Calif.), Mennonite Historical Society of B.C. (Abbotsford, B.C.), and Centre for M.B. Studies (Winnipeg, Man.).

M.B. Historical Commission 2012-2013: (l to r): J Janzen, Valerie Rempel (recording secretary), Kevin Enns-Rempel, Richard Thiessen, Abe Dueck, Don Isaac (chair), Dora Dueck (vice chair), Jon Isaak (executive secretary), Peggy Goertzen, Julia Reimer, and Conrad Stoesz.

M.B. Historical Commission 2012–2013: (l to r): J Janzen, Valerie Rempel (recording secretary), Kevin Enns-Rempel, Richard Thiessen, Abe Dueck, Don Isaac (chair), Dora Dueck (vice chair), Jon Isaak (executive secretary), Peggy Goertzen, Julia Reimer, and Conrad Stoesz.

At this year’s AGM, which occurred June 7–8 in Winnipeg, each archive reported on various projects that are underway. These include book publications, digitization of print, sound, and image media, recent acquisitions, and conferences held.

Amanda Bartel, this year’s student archival intern, reported on her summer internship. She spent one week at each archive helping with ongoing archival tasks and doing her own research on Mennonite Brethren missionaries, several of whom were her relatives. Amanda concluded her internship in Winnipeg, so she was able to report to the Commission in person. The Commission was so pleased with the internship that it decided to offer the internship again next summer. Watch for notices this fall.

It Happened in Moscow

Maureen Klassen’s book, It Happened in Moscow, was launched during the weekend at the Winnipeg Centre for M.B. Studies. Sixty people gathered on Friday evening to hear Maureen describe the stunning discovery of a family secret and the steady assurance of God’s presence through the horrors of Stalin’s purges. Copies of this Commission publication are available at www.kindredproductions.com (ISBN 978-1-894791-35-9, 240 pp., $21.95, paper).

On Friday afternoon the Commission toured the site of the Canadian Human Rights Museum that is nearing completion in downtown Winnipeg. The tour reminded the Commission of its own mandate to preserve and interpret the stories and records related to one particular segment of God’s people, a segment known as the Mennonite Brethren.

Since its formation in 1969, the Commission has helped coordinate the collection, preservation, and interpretation of Mennonite Brethren archival records: congregational meeting minutes, conference proceedings, personal papers, periodicals, and photographs.

More information about the work of the Commission is available on its website www.mbhistory.org and Facebook page.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary


April 3, 2013

Summer 2013 archival intern announced

Winnipeg, Manitoba—Amanda Bartel is this year’s recipient of the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission’s archival internship. The selection committee chose Amanda from a strong field of candidates from various universities and colleges in the US and Canada.

As intern, Amanda will spend one week at each of the four MB archival centers (Hillsboro, Fresno, Abbotsford, and Winnipeg) during the months of May and June 2013. In addition to experiencing a functioning archive, Amanda will be gathering stories and images that promote the mission of church archives.

“We are very pleased to award Amanda the archival internship. We hope this will be a rich experience for her and provide insights for the Commission as we document and communicate the story of God’s work in our lives,” says Don Isaac, chair of the Historical Commission.

Amanda is a student at Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio.

The internship is made possible in part by support from the Katie Funk Wiebe fund.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary, Historical Commission


October 19, 2012

Research Grant and Internship for 2013

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A ministry of The US Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches A ministry of The Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches