June 23, 2020
Historical Commission meets by Zoom to deliberate and grant awards
Winnipeg, Manitoba—On June 12–13, 2020, the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission met for its annual meeting, this year via Zoom video conference, on account of the COVID pandemic. Like many, the Commission observed that the year 2020 is turning out to be apocalyptic in the biblical sense of “revealing” many things about our times, institutions, and social arrangements.
Among the items discussed at the meeting were reports from the four Mennonite Brethren (MB) archives associated with the Commission, manuscript submissions for publication consideration, and research grant applications. The Commission was impressed with the quality of grant applications and was pleased to award financial support to three of them – one institution and two individuals. The projects were viewed by the Commission as increasing Anabaptist–Mennonite appreciation in MB congregations, not only in the US and Canada, but globally.
An Archival Development Grant of $1,750 was awarded to the Marturía Centro de Investigacíon, a research centre within the Instituto Bíblico Asunción (Asunción, Paraguay). Marturía’s book project – The Missional and Evangelistic Work of Paraguayan Mennonite Brethren Church Planting Teams – attracted the Commission’s interest for its prospect of preserving and assessing the Paraguayan church planting efforts during the last 15 years. It is a project likely to prove instructive for the ongoing MB mission in Paraguay.
An MB Studies Project Grant of $1,000 was awarded to Prof. Jayaker Yennamalla of the MB Centenary Bible College (Shamshabad, India). Jayaker’s research project – The Life and Legacy of Local Workers of the MB Church in India (1899–2020) – explores how local people embraced and promoted Christian education and literacy among disadvantaged populations. The Commission was drawn to the significance of this project, especially in these days of heightened awareness of racial discrimination.
A second MB Studies Project Grant of $1,000 was awarded to Andrew Klassen Brown, an MA student at Canadian Mennonite University (Winnipeg, Canada). Andrew’s thesis project – Peace in the End Times: Apocalypticism in Sixteenth-Century Anabaptist Peace Theology – investigates the roots of Mennonite peace theology in the 16th century by analyzing how the Anabaptists thought about the end of the world. The Commission was intrigued by the potential relevancy for today, given the rise of apocalyptic concerns around infectious pandemics, global climate change, and security of resources.
Currently, the Commission funds six initiatives: an archival internship, Katie Funk Wiebe women’s studies research grants, MB studies project grants, J.B. Toews college scholarships, GAMEO stipends, and archival development grants. For details about these initiatives – and the news releases announcing past recipients – see the Commission’s website.
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.
The Commission works with a network of four Mennonite Brethren archival centers: Center for MB Studies (Hillsboro, Kansas), Mennonite Library & Archives (Fresno, California), Mennonite Historical Society of BC (Abbotsford, BC), and Centre for MB Studies (Winnipeg, Manitoba).
More information about the work of the Commission – a funded ministry of both the US Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches – is available on its website.
—Jon Isaak, Executive Secretary, Historical Commission