Historical Commission announces grants for 2014-2015

f87b4817-594e-4bc7-8f54-5987125b47c9July 21, 2014.

The Historical Commission of the U.S. and Canadian Mennonite Brethren Churches announces three funded initiatives for 2014–2015.

The first is a PROJECT GRANT of up to $2,000 in support of a historical and/or theological project of interest to Mennonite Brethren around the world. This grant is new this year and the application deadline is November 17, 2014.

2c113382-871b-41bb-9107-5b3e6b18604eThe second is a SUMMER ARCHIVAL INTERNSHIP, designed to give a college or graduate student practical archival experience at each of the four Mennonite Brethren archival institutions in North America. Spanning five weeks during May and June 2015 (exact dates to be determined), the intern will spend a week at each of the MB archives (Winnipeg, Hillsboro, Fresno, and Abbotsford). Airfare and accommodations are included along with a $2,000 stipend.

The third is a RESEARCH GRANT of $2,000 in support of research and publication relating to the history and contribution of Mennonite Brethren women. The grant is made possible by generous support from the Katie Funk Wiebe Fund.

Criteria and application details for these funded initiatives are available atwww.mbhistory.org or on the ads below.

—Jon Isaak, executive secretary

Letting loose in the archives: An intern’s tale

Photo: Amanda Bartel stands in the Centre for MB Studies in Winnipeg, Man., the final location she visited during her archival internship. (Photo by Ellen Paulley)

It was designed so that “a young person [could] let loose in the archives, explore, and have fun,” says Jon Isaak about the first MB Historical Commission Archival Internship. Intern Amanda Bartel of Iowa City, Iowa has done just that. She’s “done a marvelous job of engaging the material,” says Isaak, Executive Secretary of the MB Historical Commission.

Bartel, a history student at Bluffton University in Ohio, says she’s “always had an interest in history” and initially thought she would like to study archaeology. Her career aspirations changed after a high school class resulted in accepting an opportunity to job shadow an archivist. Bartel says of the opportunity, “It was kind of similar to what I was thinking and maybe this will open a whole other door. Maybe I will actually do this for the rest of my life.”

The goal of the five-week internship is to provide a college student with practical archival experience at each of the four MB archival institutions in North America. Bartel spent time at the Centers for MB Studies in both Hillsboro, Kan., and Fresno, Calif., the Mennonite Historical Society of British Columbia in Abbotsford, B.C., and the Centre for MB Studies in Winnipeg, Man. Bartel restored papers, some covered in mould; sorted and organized donated documents; updated a visual inventory; and inputted data into archival systems.

The work of the archival centres is connected to the mission of the church in a broad sense, explains Isaak. The stories collected are about “gathering [the] people of God, restoring hope, and [God] freeing them from various bondages. Archives is a repository of these congregations and people who have tried to be faithful,” he says.

The research topic for the internship was left flexible, open to the interests of the student. Bartel was interested in missionary stories since members of her family were connected with the Mennonite mission field in China in the mid-twentieth century.

She tracked the stories of missionaries at each of the different archives. One such story is of Paul Wiebe, a fellow church member at First Mennonite in Iowa City, Iowa. In Hillsboro, Bartel found photos of a young Wiebe and his family from the time when they were missionaries in India. She scanned some of these photos and sent them to Wiebe’s daughter, who hadn’t been aware of them.

When asked what she’ll remember most about her internship, Bartel says, “The thing I’m going to take away most is the people I’ve met. It’s just been really fun to meet everyone and figure out what they’re doing and see what their different jobs are.”

The MB Historical Commission will be hosting the internship again next year. The enthusiasm and spirit with which Bartel approached her work has been encouraging to Isaak. “She’s been a bright light ready to go. It’s neat to see the future is in good hands,” he says.

Ellen Paulley is the communications coordinator for the Canadian Conference of MB Churches.

MB Historical Commission Appoints New Executive Secretary

Jon Isaak was appointed as the new Executive Secretary of the MB Historical Commission at its June 8-9 meeting in Fresno. The Commission is a jointly sponsored ministry of the US and Canadian MB conferences.

Jon will add these duties to his role as Director of the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Winnipeg. He replaces Andrew Dyck who will begin work as a full-time faculty member in Ministry Studies with MBBS Canada, in affiliation with the graduate program of Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg.

The Historical Commission is responsible for fostering historical understandings and appreciation within the Mennonite Brethren Church in Canada and the US in order to further the mission of the church.

Ongoing projects of the Commission include Profiles (a monthly bulletin insert and web PDF), publication and digitization of Volumes 1 and 2 of P.M. Friesen’s Mennonite Brotherhood , publication of a series of books titled, Perspectives on Mennonite Life and Thought (e.g., the recently published, Renewing Identity and Mission: Mennonite Brethren Reflections after 150 Years), and soon-to-be-announced grants for undergraduate students to research women’s contributions among the Mennonite Brethren.

MB Historical Commission approves new grant programs

The Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission held its annual meetings in Fresno, California, June 8-9, 2012 and approved the development of several new grant programs. The programs will include an undergraduate student internship program and provide stipends for research on subjects related to Mennonite Brethren women.

Since its formation in 1969, the Commission has helped coordinate the collection, preservation, and cataloging of Mennonite Brethren conference archival records, in cooperation with a network of Mennonite Brethren archival centers. Recently, the Commission has been working to develop digital resources that help make the collections more widely accessible. This includes online versions of Mennonite Brethren history books which can soon be accessed at www.mbhistory.org, as well as contributions to the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO). They continue to review manuscripts for possible publication, and produce the quarterly Profiles series distributed to local congregations and available online.

Commission members are elected by the Canadian and U.S. Conferences of Mennonite Brethren Churches. They include Abe Dueck (Winnipeg, Man.), retiring chair, Ben Stobbe (Victoria, B.C.), completing term of service; Dora Dueck (Winnipeg, Man.), Peter Klassen (Fresno, Calif.), completing term of service; Don Isaac (Hillsboro, Kan.), and Valerie Rempel (Fresno, Calif.). Executive Secretary Andrew Dyck tendered his resignation due to his recent appointment by Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (Canada). Peter Klassen was a founding member of the Commission in 1969 and has served several significant stints as a Commission member.

-A MB Historical Commission News Release

RIM papers bound for publication

More than a year ago, the Historical Commission, a binational partner of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches (CCMBC) and U.S.Conferences of MB Churches (USMB), organized Renewing Identity and Mission (RIM) a two-day event at Celebration 2010 that attracted more than 300 North American participants. Noteworthy international MB speakers, along with Canadian and U.S. workshop presenters explored where MBs have been and where they are going.

In October 2011 the Commission, in partnership with Kindred Productions, will be releasing a collection of papers from the RIM consultation in the form of a book titled, Renewing Identity and Mission: Mennonite Brethren Reflections After 150 years.

Andrew Dyck, executive secretary of the Historical Commission says, The RIM conference was remarkable not only for its large attendance, but also for the contributions of its younger and international participants. By capturing some of the conferences creative energy and depth of insight, this book will help strengthen the unique voice of Mennonite Brethren in the world.

The Historical Commission works to preserve and interpret the history of the Mennonite Brethren church in order to apply it to the mission of the church in the world today.

-a Canadian Conference of MB Churches news release