MB Historical Commission publishes book, awards grants

"On Holy Ground" released, new grant honors theologian Alfred Neufeld

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Members of the MB Historical Commission (June 18, 2022). Top row (l to r): Jon Isaak (Winnipeg, executive secretary), Kevin Enns-Rempel (Fresno), Don Isaac (Hillsboro, chair), and Valerie Rempel (Fresno, recording secretary); middle row: Peggy Goertzen (Hillsboro), Patricia Janzen Loewen (Winnipeg, vice chair), Hannah Keeney (Fresno) and Chris Koop (St. Catharines); and bottom row: Maricela Chavez (Fresno) and Richard Thiessen (Abbotsford); missing from photo: Benny Leung (Calgary).

The Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission gathered June 17-18 for its annual meeting via Zoom video conferencing for the third year on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to hearing how the four MB archives associated with the commission have adapted to the pandemic, the commission engaged with the publication projects and research grant applications on its agenda.

The commission announced the release of its latest publication, On Holy Ground: Stories by and about women in ministry leadership in the Mennonite Brethren Church, edited by Dora Dueck, who lives in Delta, British Columbia. The book is an anthology of life-writing from 15 MB women leaders, detailing their calls to ministry and experiences as women leaders.

A book launch for On Holy Ground with four of the contributors took place June 17 at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, British Columbia. A second event with four other contributors took place June 23 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at Canadian Mennonite University. The book is now on sale through the Kindred Productions website.

Besides funding publications, the Commission also awarded three project grants, including one new grant named in honor of Professor Alfred Neufeld (1955–2020), the Paraguayan MB theologian and Anabaptist advocate with Mennonite World Conference. This new Global Church History Project Grant aims to fund projects that document the stories of churches associated with the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) outside North America.

The first recipients of the Alfred Neufeld global church history grant are Anička Fast, a mission educator who lives in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Rodney Hollinger-Janzen, a retired missionary living in Goshen, Indiana, for their project to translate Fast’s doctoral dissertation on African Mennonite church formation into French. They were awarded $2,000 for the translation project that will make her research findings accessible to French-speaking Mennonites in Africa.

The second grant in the amount of $1,500 USD was awarded to Buduma Ramesh for his dissertation research into the dominant social forces impacting the lives of Dalit Christians in India, particularly the missiological significance for the Mennonite Brethren Church in Telangana. This is an MB Studies Project Grant. Ramesh is doctoral student at Serampore University and lives in Bangalore, India.

The third award in the amount of $2,000 USD went to Denisse Aguilar, a Goshen College student, for her senior project entitled, “The significance of shifting Mennonite Brethren women’s clothing traditions.” Her project explores what these shifts say about changes in gender roles. The award honors Katie Funk Wiebe (1924–2016), known advocate for women.

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).

The MB Historical Commission is a ministry funded by the U.S. Conference of MB Churches and the Canadian Conference of MB Churches. For details about all the commission’s funding initiatives and application procedures and the news releases announcing past recipients, visit the Commission’s website.

Members of the MB Historical Commission are Jon Isaak (Winnipeg, executive secretary), Kevin Enns-Rempel (Fresno), Don Isaac (Hillsboro, chair), Valerie Rempel (Fresno, recording secretary), Peggy Goertzen (Hillsboro), Patricia Janzen Loewen (Winnipeg, vice chair), Hannah Keeney (Fresno), Chris Koop (St. Catharines), Maricela Chavez (Fresno), Richard Thiessen (Abbotsford) and Benny Leung (Calgary).

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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