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June 23, 2015

Commission meets and awards Katie Funk Wiebe research grant

Rachel Twigg Boyce

Rachel Twigg Boyce

Winnipeg, Manitoba—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 this year in Fresno, California (June 12–13, 2015), the Commission awarded the grant to Twigg Boyce, currently pastor of House Blend Ministries, an intentional Christian community in Winnipeg that is now seven years old.

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

The $2,000 research grant is made possible with support from the Katie Funk Wiebe fund. For more information, see the Commission website.

My Emigrant Father

Also at the annual meeting, the Commission was pleased to announce 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. See Kindred Productions website to order copies at the special promotional price of $20.

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 credit: Liz Wittrig

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.

At the annual meeting, 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, California.

Besides the three currently funded initiatives – the archival internship, the Katie Funk Wiebe research grant, and the MB studies project grant – the Commission agreed to launch a new funded initiative: five $1,000 college scholarships. They are designed to recognize post-secondary students affiliated with an MB church currently studying at MB-supported colleges in North America and showing promise for service and ministry. Watch for details soon to be released on the Commission website.

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).

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.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary