Historical Commission rolls out new initiatives


Annual General Meeting includes book launch

By Jon Isaak for the MB Historical Commission

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 3-4, 2016 in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

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

This year’s AGM was hosted by the Mennonite Heritage Museum.

The Commission agreed to roll out three new funded initiatives:

1) grants to support development of Mennonite archives in countries outside of the US and Canada;

2) grants to support projects initiated by Mennonite archives in US 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 Online.

Application criteria and submission dates for these will also be available on the Commission’s website by the end of summer.

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 Productions.

The Commission also agreed to continue funding the four initiatives that it has developed in recent years: archival internship, Katie Funk Wiebe research grant, MB 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.

Representatives for 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 Database.

Andrew Brown, the 2016 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.

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 MB Churches and of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches, is available on its website and Facebook page.

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



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