1950s Mennonite newspaper now viewable online

 

Pictured is an excerpt from the first issue of the Mennonite Observer, published on September 21, 1955. Modeled after Die Mennonitische Rundschau, the weekly Mennonite newspaper ran from 1955 to 1961.

The 12-page Mennonite Observer was published by The Christian Press in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As the language transition from German to English among Mennonites in Canada was intensifying, the English-language Mennonite Observer took the place of the Mennonite Brethren German-language Konferenz-Jugendblatt. Les Stobbe was the first editor of the Mennonite Observer, followed by Gerhard D. Huebert.

According to the masthead, the newspaper aimed “to have Christ at the helm, the salvation of man as its goal, and the essential unity of all true Mennonites as its guiding principle.” It was a newspaper with reports from Mennonite high schools and colleges in North America and beyond, missionary updates, congregational news, obituaries, and Bible-based devotional writings. The newspaper was designed to relate to people from a broad range of Mennonite conferences, even though its owners/editors were from the Mennonite Brethren Church.

The publication ceased in December 1961 and the Mennonite Brethren Herald took its place with a new mandate, starting in January 1962. The MB Herald became the official communication organ of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, a publication which ran for 58 years; the final edition was printed in January 2020 (see post).

Thanks to the efforts of Susan Huebert (many hours of scanning!), all the issues of the Mennonite Observer are now viewable online. With the author index created by David Perlmutter, the church, mission, school, and community news from this era are now more easily accessible to researchers. For a description of the Mennonite Observer and links to each of the 351 issues, click here.