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June 27, 2022

Historical Commission publishes ministry life-writing and awards research grants

Winnipeg, Manitoba—On June 17-18, 2022, the Mennonite Brethren (MB) Historical Commission gathered for its annual meeting via Zoom video conference for the 3rd 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 deeply with the publication projects and research grant applications on its agenda.

On Holy Ground: Stories by and about women in ministry leadership in the Mennonite Brethren Church

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. The book is an anthology of life-writing from 15 MB women leaders, detailing their calls to ministry and experiences as women leaders.

Dora Dueck, editor of On Holy Ground, lives in Delta, British Columbia.

A book launch for On Holy Ground with four of the contributors took place on June 17 at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, British Columbia. A second event with four other contributors took place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at Canadian Mennonite University on June 23. 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 Prof. Alfred Neufeld (1955–2020), the Paraguayan MB theologian and Anabaptist advocate with Mennonite World Conference. It is called the Global Church History Project Grant and 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 and Rodney Hollinger-Janzen for their project to translate Anička’s doctoral dissertation on African Mennonite church formation into French. They were awarded $2,000 USD for the translation project that will make her research findings accessible to French-speaking Mennonites in Africa.

Anička Fast (l), mission educator, lives in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Rodney Hollinger-Janzen (r), retired missionary, lives in Goshen, Indiana.

Buduma Ramesh, doctoral student at Serampore University, lives in Bangalore, India.

Buduma Ramesh, doctoral student at Serampore University, lives in Bangalore, India.

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.

Denisse Aguilar, Goshen College student, lives in Elkhart, Indiana.

Denisse Aguilar, Goshen College student, lives in Elkhart, Indiana.

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.

For details about all the Commission’s funding initiatives and application procedures – 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 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).

More information about the work of the Commission – a funded ministry of both the U.S. Conference of MB Churches and the Canadian Conference of MB Churches – is available on its website.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary

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).