Historical Commission holds annual general meeting


Twigg Boyce awarded Katie Funk Wiebe research grant

Historical Commission news story

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 June 12-13  in Fresno, Calif., the commission awarded the grant to Twigg Boyce, currently pastor of House Blend Ministries, an intentional Christian community in Winnipeg, Man., that is now seven years old.

The commission was impressed with the project design and its potential for better understanding 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,” says Don Isaac, commission chair. “It honors the path Katie Funk Wiebe has taken in reminding us of the gifts both men and women can bring to the church.” 

The $2,000 research grant is made possible with support from the Katie Funk Wiebe fund.

Also at the annual meeting, the commission announced 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. The book is available from the Kindred Productions website at the special promotional price of $20.

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, Calif.

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 in Hillsboro, Kan., Center for MB Studies in Fresno, Calif., Centre for MB Studies in Winnipeg, Man., and Mennonite Historical Society of BC in Abbotsford, BC.

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.

Photo of Historical Commission members: (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 by Liz Wittrig.


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