The Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission met for its annual meeting June 12-13, 2020, via Zoom video conference due to the COVID pandemic. Like many, the Commission observed that the year 2020 is turning out to be apocalyptic in the biblical sense of “revealing” many things about our times, institutions and social arrangements.
Among the items discussed at the meeting were reports from the four MB archives associated with the Commission, manuscript submissions for publication consideration and research grant applications. The Commission was impressed with the quality of grant applications and was pleased to award financial support to three of them—one institution and two individuals. The projects were viewed by the Commission as increasing Anabaptist-Mennonite appreciation in MB congregations, not only in the U.S. and Canada but globally.
An Archival Development Grant of $1,750 was awarded to the Marturía Centro de Investigacíon, a research center within the Instituto Bíblico Asunción in Asunción, Paraguay. Marturía’s book project—The Missional and Evangelistic Work of Paraguayan Mennonite Brethren Church Planting Teams—attracted the Commission’s interest for its prospect of preserving and assessing the Paraguayan church planting efforts during the last 15 years. It is a project likely to prove instructive for the ongoing MB mission in Paraguay.
A second MB Studies Project Grant of $1,000 was awarded to Andrew Klassen Brown, a graduate student at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Klassen Brown’s thesis project, Peace in the End Times: Apocalypticism in Sixteenth-Century Anabaptist Peace Theology, investigates the roots of Mennonite peace theology in the 16th century by analyzing how the Anabaptists thought about the end of the world. The Commission was intrigued by the potential relevancy for today, given the rise of apocalyptic concerns around infectious pandemics, global climate change and security of resources.
Currently, the Commission funds six initiatives: an archival internship, Katie Funk Wiebe women’s studies research grants, MB studies project grants, J.B. Toews college scholarships, GAMEO stipends, and archival development grants. For details about these initiatives and the news releases announcing past recipients, see the Commission’s website https://mbhistory.org/.
Since its formation in 1969, the Historical Commission has helped coordinate the collection, preservation and interpretation of MB archival records: congregational meeting minutes, conference proceedings, personal papers, periodicals and photographs.
The Commission works with a network of four MB archival centers: Center for MB Studies in Hillsboro, Kansas; Mennonite Library & Archives in Fresno, California; Mennonite Historical Society of BC in Abbotsford, British Colombia; and Centre for MB Studies in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Commission is funded by both the US Conference of MB Churches and the Canadian Conference of MB Churches.