Historical Commission publishes college history, awards research grant

MB Historical Commission meets via Zoom for second year

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Members of the MB Historical Commission (June 5, 2021). Top row (l to r): Jon Isaak (Winnipeg, executive secretary), Kevin Enns-Rempel (Fresno), and Chris Koop (St. Catharines); second row: Richard Thiessen (Abbotsford), Patricia Janzen Loewen (Winnipeg, vice chair), and Valerie Rempel (Fresno, recording secretary); third row: Don Isaac (Hillsboro, chair), Maricela Chavez (Fresno), and Peggy Goertzen (Hillsboro); and fourth row: Hannah Keeney (Fresno) and Benny Leung (Calgary). Photo: Historical Commission

The MB Historical Commission gathered June 4-5, 2021, for its annual meeting via Zoom video conference for the second year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to hearing how the four Mennonite Brethren archives associated with the commission have adapted to pandemic restrictions, the commission engaged deeply with the publication projects and research grant applications on its agenda for adjudication.

Commission chair Don Isaac says, “I’m impressed with the quality of publishing and research projects like these which can help increase Anabaptist-Mennonite appreciation in MB congregations.”

The commission is pleased to announce the release of its latest publication, Abe J. Dueck’s Mennonite Brethren Bible College: A History of Competing Visions. The book is now on sale through the Kindred Productions website, https://www.kindredproductions.com.

In 2016, Dueck was awarded the commission’s MB Studies Project Grant for his research project on the history of the MB Bible College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The college was the main program supported by the Canadian Conference of MB Churches during the college’s existence (1944–1992).

In large measure, the college story is the story of the conference. The theology, worship and polity of the conference are reflected in the often-heated debates that transpired from year to year concerning the nature of the college.

Dueck taught at MBBC for 23 years and served as academic dean for 15 years. He lives in Winnipeg.

The commission also received an update on the manuscript edited by Dora Dueck (no relation to Abe). It is a companion volume to Doug Heidebrecht’s Women in Ministry Leadership: The Journey of the Mennonite Brethren, 1954–2010 published in 2019. This manuscript is an anthology of life-writing from 14-plus MB women leaders, detailing their calls to ministry and experiences as women leaders.

The tentative title is On Holy Ground: Stories by and About Women in Ministry Leadership in the Mennonite Brethren Church. The commission was delighted to hear that the project is approaching completion and a publication date of next spring is expected.

Dora Dueck, author and former MB Herald editorial staff, lives in Delta, British Columbia.

Besides funding publications, the commission also awarded an MB Studies Project Grant of $3,000 CAD to Brad Sumner and Rich Janzen for their community-based research project proposal, Exploring Congregational Use of the MB Confession if Faith: Past, Present, Future.

Sumner is lead pastor of Jericho Ridge Community Church in Surrey British Columbia. Janzen is co-executive director of the Center for Community Based Research in Waterloo, Ontario.

Their project aims to interview a wide sampling of Canadian MB pastors to ascertain how they think, act on and in other ways relate to the MB Confession of Faith, both currently and in the past. The commission was drawn to the significance of this project, especially the implications that could find practical relevance for ongoing congregational engagement with the Confession of Faith.

For details about all the Commission’s funding initiatives and application procedures—and the news releases announcing past recipients—see the commission’s website, https://mbhistory.org.

Since its formation in 1969, the 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 (Hillsboro, Kansas), Mennonite Library & Archives (Fresno, California), Mennonite Historical Society of BC (Abbotsford, British Columbia), and Centre for MB Studies (Winnipeg, Manitoba).

More information about the work of the commission — a funded ministry of both the US Conference of MB Churches and the Canadian Conference of MB Churches — is available on its website, https://mbhistory.org.

Historical Commission
The Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission is responsible for fostering historical understanding and appreciation within the Mennonite Brethren Church in Canada and the United States. It fulfills this goal by: coordinating the collection, preservation and cataloging of Mennonite Brethren conference archival records and publishing books and audio-visual material relating to the history of the Mennonite Brethren Church.

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