GAMEO takes multilingual focus

MB representative Jon Isaak retires as GAMEO board chair, new leader selected

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GAMEO Board Members at the Mennonite Church USA Offices in Elkhart, Ind. On Screen: Anicka Fast (Mennonite World Conference), Ken Sensenig (Mennonite Central Committee). Standing: Elizabeth Miller (General Editor; Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism), Aileen Friesen (Incoming Chair; D. F. Plett Historical Research Foundation, Olivia Krall (Mennonite Church USA), Jon Isaak (Outgoing Chair; Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission), Alf Redekopp (Associate Editor). Sitting: Laureen Harder-Gissing (Mennonite Historical Society of Canada), Bert Friesen (Associate Editor). Photo by Martin Gunawan.

The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO) management board held its annual meeting both in person in Goshen and Elkhart, Indiana, and by Zoom on May 24, 2024. This meeting brought together board members from the United States, Canada and the Netherlands to discuss the upcoming year of projects and to facilitate a transition in board leadership.

Eight of the committee members, including Jon Isaak representing the MB Historical Commission, were able to attend the in-person meeting and got a unique look at two of the collections that help fuel GAMEO’s work.

In the morning, board members received a tour of the Mennonite Historical Library located at Goshen College from Elizabeth Miller, director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism and general editor of GAMEO. Later that day, the board toured the Mennonite Church USA Archives with archives coordinator Olivia Krall.

One key focus of this year’s meeting was expanding GAMEO’s multilingual offerings. GAMEO board members met with Michèle Sigg of the Dictionary of African Christian Biography (DACB) to learn about Sigg’s experience with publishing multilingual web content and increasing accessibility for DACB users.

Following that meeting, GAMEO members agreed on several updates to the site to increase multilingual access. One of these updates is already complete. On May 28 GAMEO released two new article categories, French Language Articles and Spanish Language Articles. This update allows users to locate and access articles based on the publishing language of the material.

Board members also voted to allow content submissions in any language and to work toward integrating Google Translate options into the site.

In addition to those changes, board members allocated a portion of this year’s budget for web updates. The planned updates include making the site more smartphone-friendly, redesigning GAMEO’s homepage and adding tools to make it easier for users to suggest corrections and updates.

Leadership transition

The meeting also included two leadership transitions. Jon Isaak, executive secretary of the MB Historical Commission and the GAMEO Board Chair since 2020, announced his retirement. This corresponds with his upcoming retirement from the MB Historical Commission and the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies.

Bert Friesen, former board chair and current associate editor and finance liaison, announced his retirement as financial liaison. He will continue to serve as associate editor and focus on building relationships with Hutterite communities.

The board thanked Isaak and Friesen for their years of service to GAMEO and dedication to making Anabaptist and Mennonite history available. Aileen Friesen of the D.F. Plett Historical Research Foundation will take on both the roles of board chair and finance liaison.

GAMEO news story

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