← Back to Institutional Records

** Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches **

Proper Title

Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches fonds

Dates of Creation


Physical Description

49.5 m of textual records

Administrative History

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." The General Conference adopted a constitution to regulate its procedures and conduct its work in four "Districts" across North America (Central, Pacific, Southern, and Northern) through several elected boards and committees. The Canadian portion was known as the Northern District until 1946.

The twelve 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 (Saskatchewan), Winkler (Manitoba), Coaldale (Alberta), and several other locations.

The period 1936–1946 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.

In December 1945, the Canadian parliament passed a private member’s bill as a special act of parliament, incorporating the Canadian Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America as a charity. In the following year, the Conference approved the by-laws of the Canadian Conference, after which it regulated its procedures and conducted its work through the several elected boards and committees.

By 1963, the General Conference of the Mennonite Brethren of North America had changed its name to the General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, and by the late 1960s the Canadian "district" of the General Conference became known as the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC), even though its 1945 incorporated name remained unchanged. Home mission work was the most important activity of the Conference in its early years.

Beginning already 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).

Through the 1990s, Canadian Mennonite Brethren continued to develop their sense of identity, aided by biennial national conventions. Nationally, they 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's 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 was 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 was 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 was the Conference staff, led by the Senior Management Team. One member of the Executive Board, the Executive Director, maintained the relationship between the Conference staff and the Executive Board by communicating and directing the Senior Management Team. The Senior Management Team, in turn, provided leadership to its staff and was the tool used to produce the ministries and visions established by the Executive Board.

The Senior Management Team, and thus all Conference staff, were divided 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 (below).

David Wiebe, who had served in the position of Executive Director before the Governance Model in 2000, maintained his position, under the new description, until 2010. In 2011, Willy Reimer was hired as the Executive Director.

In 2014, the conference ministries were re-framed as "services" and reorganized around four headings: Building Community, Multiplying Churches, Developing Leaders, and Financial Ministries (renamed Resourcing Ministry in 2016). The Executive Board was the elected body that gave oversight to all four services.

See (click here) 2016 video describing CCMBC's four services model.

In 2018, incoming Executive Director Elton DaSilva led CCMBC to adopt a "collaborative model" where the Provincial church conferences worked together to shape and direct the vision and delivery of services across Canada. The result was the formation of the National Leadership Team and the National Faith and Life Team.

See (click here) 2018 video describing CCMBC's vision for a collaborative model.

To view copies of the convention yearbooks, click here.

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.

Custodial History

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.
  • Formerly 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 groupings remain relevant, but new materials are added at the end and not interfiled.
  • More accruals expected.

← Back to Institutional Records