** Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches **
Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches fonds
Dates of Creation
49.5 m of textual records
The Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches had its beginnings in 1910 as the Northern District Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church. Until then, the entire Mennonite Brethren (MB) Church in the United States and Canada functioned as one general conference. In 1916 the Conference framed and adopted a constitution and was incorporated as a religious body in Canada, after which it regulated its procedures and conducted its work through the several elected boards and committees. The Canadian portion was known as the Northern District.
In 1946, the Northern District Conference became more autonomous and became known as the Canadian Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America and eventually came to be called the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. Home mission work was the most important activity of the conference in its early years.
1924–1936 marked a period of rapid growth and expansion in the Conference. The effectiveness of home mission activities partly accounted for this rapid growth, but the main contributing factor was the immigration of many Mennonites from Russia between 1923 and 1930. A fairly large percentage of these immigrants had been members of MB churches in Russia and wherever they settled, they either joined MB churches or formed new churches and became affiliated with the Conference.
The congregations realized the need and importance of Bible instruction for their young people and encouraged the establishing of Bible schools. The one at Herbert continued, and other schools were established in Hepburn, Sask., Winkler, Man., Coaldale, Gem, Alta. and many other locations.
The period, 1936–1939, marked a time of further growth and increase in Conference activities. During this time the Conference expanded westward and eastward. The Conference reorganized its home mission effort, delegating this work to the five provincial Conferences (Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia), which reported on their work at the annual Conference conventions. The spiritual welfare of the church was under the supervision of the Committee of Reference and Counsel, earlier known as the Fürsorge Komitee.
Beginning in the early 1950s a movement from the farm to the city began for many Mennonites. In 1950 the three largest congregations in the Conference were all rural. By 1986, in every province except Alberta, the biggest congregations were in urban settings, and in several places Mennonite Brethren could claim to be one of the major evangelical church communities (Abbotsford, Vancouver, Winnipeg, St. Catharines, and Saskatoon).
Canadian Mennonite Brethren have been characterized by a strong sense of their identity, aided by biennial national conventions. Nationally, they have supported Concord College (formerly Mennonite Brethren Bible College) in Winnipeg, publications (Mennonite Brethren Herald, Mennonitische Rundschau, Le Lien, and the Chinese Herald) and the Board of Evangelism church planting work in Quebec.
In 2004, a new Governance Model was proposed that restructured the organization of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. The idea of creating a new Governance Model was first discussed at the Executive Board planning and vision retreat, held in Toronto in June of 2003. Many felt that the existing governance structure was placing limitations on the visionary ideas of the Executive Board. A few months later, the Executive Board met with Les Stahlke, author of The Relationship Model, in Abbotsford, BC. Stahlke became the consultant for the Governance Model project, helping the Executive Board produce the basic concepts of the new model, which was presented to the Council of Boards in January, 2004. The new Governance Model was officially presented to the Conference membership in July, 2004, at the Mennonite Brethren Convention (renamed Gathering) in Toronto. After being presented and debated, the new model was passed by ballot vote, with an 82% majority.
The new Governance Model removed all boards, replacing them with just two: the Executive Board and the Board of Faith and Life. The Executive Board is tasked with providing leadership in the development and promotion of Conference vision and in setting goals to further God’s kingdom through the churches of the Conference. The Board of Faith and Life is to watch over the spiritual life of the Conference and its churches, providing guidance and direction in matters of faith and practice.
Underneath the two governing boards is the Conference staff, which is led by the Senior Management Team. One member of the Executive Board, the Executive Director, maintains relationship between the Conference staff and the Executive Board by communicating and directing the Senior Management Team. The Senior Management Team, in turn, provides leadership to their staff and is the tool used to produce the ministries and visions established by the Executive Board.
The Senior Management Team, and thus all Conference staff, are broken into six main priority areas: Faith and Life, Healthy Churches, Leadership Development, Reaching Out, Fostering Community (Communications), and Financial Services. The purpose and description for each of these areas is communicated in their series descriptions.
David Wiebe, who had served in the position of Executive Director before the Governance Model in 2000, maintained his position, under its new description, until 2010. In 2011, Willy Reimer was hired as the Executive Director.
In 2014, the six foci were re-framed as "services" and reorganized around four headings: Building Community, Multiplying Churches, Developing Leaders, and Financial Ministries.
Scope and Content
The Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches fonds consists of multiple series. Each series portrays a board, committee, institution or event that had or still has a fundamental role in the development and organization of the Conference. These series record the founding and development of the Canadian Conference.
Records have been transferred to the Centre for MB Studies archives in Winnipeg, Manitoba on a regular basis.
- Finding aid consists of series and file lists.
- Volume numbers included with series descriptions.
- Finding aid: The records are classified under the Canadian Conference of MB Churches inventory B100–700.
- Described by Bert Friesen March 24, 2003; updated by Conrad Stoesz Fall 2005; April 25, 2006; June 1, 2006; July 31, 2006; updated by Yvonne Snider-Nighswander, October 2, 2012; January 14, 2013; April 2, 2013; updated by Kate Woltmann, 2014.
- Some restrictions on access.
- Accession numbers 2001-045, 2003-016,2005-030, 2006-007, 2006-014, 2006-023, 2006-040, 2007-01, 2008-024, 2013-15, 2013-24, 2013-31, 2013-32, 2013-34, 2014-22.
- Language: English and German and some French.
- Arrangement: The materials have been arranged according to a classification scheme grouping all like records together and interfiling them. After 2002 the groups are relevant but new materials are added at the end and not interfiled.
- More accruals expected.
Note: Each of the series listed below has its own Institutional Record. Clicking on the series title below redirects to the corresponding Institutional Record. The year ranges associated with each series is an attempt to indicate those boards/departments/ministries that have been dissolved and those that continue to function under the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches.
Bethesda Home for the Mentally Ill (1939–1985)
Board of Christian Education (1936–2002)
Board of Communications (1994–2002)
Board of Discipleship Ministries (2002–2005)
Board of Evangelism (1958–2004)
Board of Faith and Life (1946– )
Board of Higher Education (1942–1994)
Board of Publications (1952–1989)
Board of Trustees/Board Management (1945–2004)
C2C Network: Church Planting Resources (2012– )
Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies (1969– )
Conference Minister/Executive Director (1979– )
Conventions / Gatherings (1945– )
Council of Boards (1967–2004)
Executive Committee / Executive Board (1910– )
L2L Network: Leadership Development Resources (2012– )
Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Canada (2010– )
Mennonite Brethren Herald (1962– )
Mennonitische Rundschau, Die (1880–2007)
News releases, staff newsletters, video updates (2013– )
Statistical Survey (1946– )
Stewardship Ministries (1967–2014)