June 6, 2014
Historical Commission launches new research initiatives
Winnipeg, Manitoba—Reflections from an archival intern, decisions on new initiatives, and a tour of one of the first Mennonite Brethren meeting places in North America were all part of the annual general meeting of the MB Historical Commission in Hillsboro, Kansas, May 30–31, 2014.
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 (Hillsboro, Kansas), Center for MB Studies (Fresno, California), Centre for MB Studies (Winnipeg, Manitoba), and Mennonite Historical Society of BC (Abbotsford, British Columbia).
At this year’s AGM, each archive reported on various new ventures – new construction in Abbotsford, new website in Winnipeg, new archivist in Fresno, and book publication in Hillsboro.
Yoshio Fujii, this year’s archival intern, reported on his summer internship. He spent one week at each archive, helping with ongoing archival tasks and doing his own research on Mennonite Brethren mission theology in Japan. Yoshio is a pastor/teacher from Japan who graduated in May with an MDiv degree from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. He is the second archival intern; the internship was first launched in 2013. At the AGM, the Commission agreed to fund the program again in 2015. Watch for notices this fall on the Commission website.
Besides the two funded initiatives – the archival internship and the Katie Funk Wiebe research grant – the Commission agreed to launch a new funded initiative: the MB studies project grant. It is designed to support historical and theological research and publication on topics of interest to MBs globally. Watch for details soon to be released on the Commission website.
In addition, ongoing digitizing and publication projects were also approved at the AGM, advancing the service that the archival centers can offer their constituencies.
On Saturday afternoon, the Commission toured several landmarks of the first MB communities in the area: Hillsboro, Gnadenau, Florence, and Peabody. The tour reminded the Commission of the value of preserving, interpreting, and making accessible the stories and records related to one particular segment of God’s people, the segment known as Mennonite Brethren.
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.
—Jon Isaak, Executive Secretary