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Wiebe, Katie Funk (1924–2016)

Proper Title

Katie Funk Wiebe fonds

Dates of Creation

[1917?]–1948, 1960–2008

Physical Description

48 cm of textual material and 184 photographs

Biographical Sketch

Katie Funk was born on 17 September 1924 in Laird, Saskatchewan. She is the fourth child of Jacob Funk and Anna Janzen. In 1928, the family settled in Blaine Lake and attended Laird Mennonite Brethren Church. It was a devotional reading that helped focus Katie’s spiritual life and she was baptized on 17 September 1934 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, by Pastor H.S. Rempel.

In the fall of 1945, Katie attended Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. There she began working on the student paper The Harbinger with another student editor, Walter Wiebe. Katie and Walter were married on a Thursday evening, 21 August 1947, in the Saskatoon Mennonite Brethren Church.

Katie and Walter discovered a calling towards a "ministry of literature." This calling manifested itself through their work in various publications, including The Youth Worker at Bethany Bible Institute. Katie also wrote freelance articles in The Canadian Mennonite and Christian Living. In 1962, she began writing a regular column for the Christian Leader called “Women in the Church.”

The family moved to Hillsboro, Kansas, in September 1962, where Walter had accepted a job at the Mennonite Brethren Publishing House and Katie had a job at the General Conference Board of Missions. “Their vision for a literature ministry was finally becoming a reality." Unfortunately, on 17 November 1962, Walter died as a result of a growth in his abdomen.

Early widowhood pushed Katie into the workforce to earn a livelihood for her young family of four: Joanna, Susan, Christine, and James. Katie worked as a copy editor and proofreader at the Mennonite Brethren Publishing House and continued to write articles for journals. Katie began to teach in the English Department at Tabor College in Hillsboro, and eventually earned an MA degree and a promotion to Associate Professor. All the while, Katie continued to write articles for the Christian Leader.

During the 1970s, Katie began to write books. She wrote stories of Mennonite women, including her own life in relation to Walter’s death. Her influence spread across the continent. Her writing focused on "women who were often overlooked because they were not part of the official historical accounts" and she used "autobiographical narrative" to share her own story.

Katie conducted writing workshops all over the country, taking special interest in the women of the church. She became involved in many levels of leadership in the Mennonite Brethren Conference: as board member of Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies in Hillsboro, on the Mennonite Central Committee Task Force for Women in the Church and Society, on the editorial board of Direction. Katie found herself increasingly at the centre of the conversation about women in the Mennonite Brethren Church. She was also invited to participate on the Board of Reference and Council’s Women in Ministry Task Force.

In 1990, Katie retired from Tabor College. She continued to work as a hospice volunteer and made it her goal to make sure that older adults maintained their sense of identity and self-worth. Katie wrote about her own experience of growing older and the role of older adults in the church. She led workshops on aging and attended older adult retreats.

Katie died on 23 October 2016, in Wichita, Kansas, at the age of 92.

A comprehensive bibliography of the writings and oral presentations of Katie can be found in the book The Voice of a Writer: Honoring the life of Katie Funk Wiebe, pp. 255–352.

Much of the information for this biographical sketch was found in The Voice of a Writer.

Custodial History

The Katie Funk Wiebe fonds came to the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies over several years. In 1998, Katie donated photographs of camp, Mennonite Brethren Bible College, missions and farming life. An email to Ken Reddig in 2007 contained an essay regarding the Blaine Lake church. When Doug Heidebrecht went to visit Katie in her home in 2009, she donated some family stories and more photographs. In 2010, Katie donated some of her correspondence over the last 30 years and a photo from Elim Bible School. The Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies also has many of her books in its J.A. Toews Library collection. In 2015, Katie donated photocopies of the family letters and histories she used to write a memoir that narrates the story of her father, Jake Funk (My Emigrant Father [Kindred, 2015]). In 2018, files related to Katie's correspondence with publishers and individuals regarding her writing and speaking were donated to CMBS from Katie's estate, following her passing (Acc. No. 2018-06).

Scope and Content

The Katie Funk Wiebe fonds consists of correspondence to and from Katie Funk Wiebe throughout the 1960s and 1990s, with a few from 2007 and 2008. There are also a number of photographs of early college years. This fonds will be of interest to anyone wanting to know more about what it was like to be a woman in the Mennonite Brethren Church during the 1960s and into the 21st century. The fonds includes Youth Worker Program Helps, movie scripts, radio scripts, articles, chapters, workshops, presentations, and manuscripts, all representative of Katie's interests and passions. Four books have been included that have influenced her writing.


  • Volume 603, 1287, 1503.
  • Title based on contents of fonds.
  • Created by Tamara Dyck, October, 22, 2010; updated by Yvonne Snider-Nighswander June 20, 2012, Conrad Stoesz Feb 19, 2013, Jon Isaak Sept 2015, and Jon Isaak July 2018.
  • Accession numbers: 1998-051, 2007-33, 2009-19, 2010-023, 2015-14, 2018-06.
  • See also the Katie Funk Wiebe collection in the archives at Tabor College (Hillsboro, Kansas), for additional materials (articles, correspondence, manuscripts, etc.) related to KFW.
  • Finding aids for photographs: NP026-04 (18-19), NP026-06 (8), NP026-07 (12), NP026-08 (67-68), NP026-09 (94-100), NP026-21 (44-46), NP026-25 (27-32), NP026-26 (55-56), NP026-35 (12-15), NP026-36 (6-13), NP026-44 (51-68), NP098-02 (1-20), NP145. See MAID website for uploaded images: https://archives.mhsc.ca/
  • Finding aids for slides: NS01-22 (50-52).

File List

Volume 603 - Blaine Lake Gospel Chapel

7. Russian Baptist/Mennonite Brethren Turf Wars in Blaine Lake. -- 2006.

Volume 1287

1. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1960.
2. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1961.
3. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1962.
4. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1963.
5. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1964.
6. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1965.
7. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1966.
8. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1967.
9. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1968.
10. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1969.
11. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1970.
12. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1971.
13. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1973.
14. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1974.
15. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1975.
16. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1976.
17. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1977.
18. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1978.
19. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1979.
20. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1980.
21. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1981.
22. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1982.
23. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1983.
24. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1984.
25. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1985.
26. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1986.
27. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1987.
28. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1988.
29. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1989.
30. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1990.
31. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1991.
32. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1992.
33. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1993.
34. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1994.
35. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1995.
36. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1996.
37. Katie Funk Wiebe correspondence. -- 1997.
38. Russian Baptist/Mennonite Brethren Turf Wars in Blaine Lake. -- 2006.
39. Youth Worker Progam Helps: Knowing and Doing God's Will. -- 1968.
40. KFW journal entry after visiting Kaethe Warkentin re. Funk family witch. -- 1985.
41. KFW family histories used for My Emigrant Father (2015): “A Ghost Story,” “Our Mother: Susanna Nick (Peters) Funk,” by Peter J. Funk, “Trip from Russia to America,” by David Schellenberg, “Brief History and Background [of the Funk family],” by Henry J. Funk, son of John J. Funk. -- [198-].
42. KFW family stories used to write My Emigrant Father (2015): “The Springtime of Life,” by Katy Enns, daughter of John Schroeder, also of Rosenthal, Ukraine, where the Funk family lived. -- 1971.
43. Letters (40+) from Jake Funk to daughter Katie Funk Wiebe. -- [196-]–[197-].
44. “My Childhood in South Russia,” by Abe J. Funk. 32-page manuscript. Edited by Katie Funk Wiebe. -- 1994.
45. Growing up in Blaine Lake: By five who did. 89-page self-published book with contributions from each of the five Funk children: Elfrieda (Funk) Schroeder, Anne (Funk) Kruger, Katie Funk Wiebe, Jack Funk, and Susan (Funk) Kruger. -- 1991.
46. Photocopies of articles and excerpts related to Mennonite migrations in the 1920s and the KFW family. -- [194-]–[198-].
47. Ernst Modersohn, Die Frauen des Neuen Testaments, dritte auflage. -- 1921.
48. Ernst Modersohn, Die Frauen des Alten testaments, virte auflage. -- 1925.
49. Johannes Gillhoff, Jürnjakob Swehn - der Amerikafahrer, Teil 1. -- [1917?].
50. Johannes Gillhoff, Jürnjakob Swehn - der Amerikafahrer, Teil 2. -- [1917?].

Volume 1503

1. Correspondence with publishers, church leaders, and individuals regarding Katie’s “women’s” column in Mennonite newspapers and magazines. -- 1960–1969.
2. Correspondence with publishers, church leaders, and individuals regarding Katie’s “women’s” column in Mennonite newspapers and magazines. -- 1970–1999.
3. Correspondence with publishers and conference organizers regarding workshops, presentations, articles, etc. for which Katie was asked to write or speak. -- 1965–1997.
4. Correspondence with individuals—either supportive or critical—regarding Katie’s views and/or writing on the topic of “Women in ministry leadership.” -- 1970–2008.
5. Presentations, articles, and invited responses given by Katie related to the topic of “Women in ministry leadership.” -- 1985–1990.
6.Correspondence with conference organizers, regarding presentations or workshops that Katie was asked to give. -- 1976–1987.
7. Correspondence with conference organizers, regarding presentations or workshops that Katie was asked to give. -- 1990–1996.
8. Papers and correspondence related to Katie’s service on the Mennonite Brethren Board of Reference and Counsel, Women in Ministry Task Force. -- 1981–1987.
9. Early presentations on Women in Ministry given on various occasions. Women’s retreat (1962), “Color Me a Person” (1973), “What’s this battle about headship and submission?” (1976), “Women’s Work in the light of our Heritage and Mission,” All-India Mennonite Women’s Conference (1977), “Mennonite Brethren Women: Images and Realities of the Early Years” (1981). -- 1962–1981.
10. Papers and correspondence related to Katie’s service on the Mennonite Central Committee’s Task Force on Women. -- 1976–1978.
11. “Voices of Liberation.” Presentation given at Mennonite Brethren History Symposium. -- 1976.
12. “Jesus and Women” and “Changing roles for Men and Women.” Presentation and workshop given at Mennonite Central Committee conference, Biblical Perspectives on Women in the Church, held in Clearbrook, British Columbia. -- 1978.
13. Response to Leadership Study Interview conducted by Lombard Mennonite Church, Illinois. -- 1982.
14. “Sister Frieda Marie Kaufman: Builder of Institutions and Lives.” Chapter in book, Mennonite Entrepreneurs (1996). Correspondence with editors and drafts. -- 1983–1996.
15. Radio scripts written by Katie for Mennonite Board of Missions. -- 1985.
16. “Pilgrim Aflame.” Correspondence related to the film script. -- 1986.
17. “Seedtime After Harvest.” A two-hour film depicting the way one Mennonite immigrant family from Ukraine faced the rigors of acculturation in Canada in the 1920s and 1930s. 1986 draft. -- 1986.
18. “Seedtime After Harvest.” Katie’s movie script for Dueck Film Productions, Winnipeg. Final version. -- 1987.
19. Presentations on Women in Ministry. Response to David Schroeder’s paper given at Mennonite Central Committee special meeting in Winnipeg (1987), Response to Women Doing Theology Conference at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo (1992), “What I learned from the Women’s Movement (2005). -- 1987–2007.
20. “When Faith Comes Under Fire.” Chapter in book, Weathering the Storm (1991). Correspondence with editors and draft. -- 1991.
21. Short scripts for Mennonite Church Bulletin series for the 1992 year. -- 1992.
21a. Unpublished book review essay entitled "Handing over the Faith." In the essay, Katie reviews J.B. Toews's book, Pilgrimage of Faith: The Mennonite Brethren Church, 1860–1990 (Kindred Productions, 1993). -- 1993.
22. “The growing ministry gap,” published paper and “Separating from Others,” panel discussion presentation at Perils of Professionalism conference sponsored by MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates). -- 1989, 1992.
23. “Peter had come home.” Manuscript telling the story of Katie’s father, Jacob Funk, and how he located his wife’s family during the upheaval of revolution and civil war in Ukraine. -- 1995.
24. “Anna Janzen Funk’s Story: Childhood to Coming to Canada.” Manuscript telling the story of Katie’s mother and her immigration from Ukraine to Canada. -- 1996.
25. “Born out of Season: A short biography of Walter William Wiebe (1918–1962).” Manuscript telling the story of Katie’s husband, Walter. -- 1997.
26. “Conscious Aging: A Creative Spiritual Journey.” Correspondence related to and draft of presentation at a conference in Hesston, Kansas, at Hesston College. -- 1996–1997.
27. “What are our real historical records.” Presentation given by Katie summarizing the progress in recognizing women’s contribution to the life of the church. -- [1997?].
28. “Into the Twilight Zone: Family stories my father and others told me, too good to throw out.” Manuscript of 28 short stories that Katie recalls hearing told in her family while growing up—stories from Ukraine and Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan. -- 2007.

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