© Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
(Last updated 24 March 2009
|Title: Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba fonds
Extent: 16.33 m of textual records and other material
Repository: Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives
The fonds is organized into nine (9) series as follows:
The history of the Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba can be traced back to the early 1920s, when the Bergthaler Mennonite leaders and the kirchliche Russländer Mennonite immigrant leaders worked towards unity despite some strained relationships. Several attempts were made to establish a provincial unifying body, but it wasn't until 1947 when they finally succeeded in establishing the Conference.
On October 28, 1947 in Altona, under the direction of Ältester (Bishop) David Schulz, a constitution was accepted and the name of Konferenz der Mennonitengemeinde von Manitoba (KMM) was chosen. Three Gemeinden (Bergthaler, Blumenorter, and Whitewater) and ten congregations registered with membership in the new Konferenz der Mennonitengemeinde von Manitoba. Notably missing was the Schönwiese Gemeinde.
The purpose of the conference was to implement programs that individual churches could not accomplish on their own. Such programs included: home and foreign missions, concerns related to war and peace, settlement, relief, physical and mental health, and a variety of programs and institutions relating to children, youth and the elderly. Some programs established during the 1950s were camp work and radio ministry.
The late 1950s and early 1960s saw a growing independence of the congregations, a withholding of funds and a breakdown of church discipline. The leadership of the conference churches had to this point been dominated by a small group of bishops and ministers. It was restructured to an independent congregation system with paid ministers.
In 1959 a central treasury was established to handle all the funds of the various committees and the constitution was revised. In 1966 the annual delegate conference was shifted from November to February/March and the conference name changed to the English equivalent Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba (CMM). In 1968 the conference unconditionally accepted the Schönwieser church into its constituency. The language of the conference moved from German to English, so that by 1969 the minutes were all in English.
It was in 1970 that a conference minister/administrator was first appointed. The role of CMM continued to grow in the 1970s and the ministry focused on proclaiming, teaching and relating the faith to the non-Christian world. The conference also continued to gather and build up congregations. Much energy and time was required to provide counseling support to ministers and congregations in a world of growing materialism and secularism. The conference minister's roles became that of consultant, mediator, spiritual advisor and support to pastors and congregations. In 1973 the Executive Committee polled delegates on where they would like to place the emphasis in Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba programming. Camps came out as number one.
By 1976 the conference's growing programs demanded more time and reorganization with staff increases becoming necessary. This meant moving towards a central staff and their committees. By 1981 the conference work agenda in developing and improving programs was so busy there was not enough time for dialogue and interaction at the annual delegate sessions. Delegates perceived that decision-making responsibility had transferred more and more to the executive and other committees.
Another reorganization came around 1989. The Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba approved a pastoral Leadership Commission during the restructuring to work together with the conference minister on the many issues facing the congregations and their ministerial leadership. Strengthening (and enlargement) took place in the areas of executive and ministerial leadership, young adult work and in the relationship with many of the congregations through listening and dialogue. Downsizing was visible in the closing of Elim Bible Institute in Altona, the cutting back of the Faith and Life Program and campus chaplaincy. In 1990 the conference offices moved to 600 Shaftsbury Blvd..
In 2001 the Conference of Mennonites in Manitoba changed its name to Mennonite Church Manitoba in recognition of the transformation of the Mennonite Church and General Conference Mennonite Church into Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada (formerly Conference of Mennonites in Canada). Instead of relating to a bi-national and national denominational structure, Mennonite Church Manitoba now was affiliated only with a national body. In 2001 the conference included 48 congregations with a total membership of 10,487.
The basic records of the CMM are the reports to and minutes of its annual delegate conferences. From 1947-1957 these were distributed in mimeographed form; thereafter, they have been published in annual yearbooks. The correspondence and minutes of the executive committee are scattered throughout the collection and are relatively complete only since about 1956. In 1979 the files from the Executive office were deposited on a yearly basis. The largest amount of material comes from the Mennonite Radio Mission, later renamed Faith and Life Communications, the first major staffed project of the conference. The Conference established a central treasury in 1959, and the financial records are complete from that point on.
Included with the CMM fonds are the records of the auxiliary organizations such as the Manitoba Mennonite Youth Organization and the Manitoba Women in Mission. The youth organization's activities and its records pre-date the Conference by about seven years.
These records have been described on the basis of the conference structure during the 1970s and 1980s.
The fonds is organized into nine (9) series as follows:
- Executive Committee
- Finance Committee
- Anna Ens CMM History Project
- Mission Committee
- Education Committee
- Manitoba Women in Mission
- Manitoba Mennonite Youth Organization
- Camps with Meaning
- Mennonite Radio Mission / Faith and Life Communications
Inventory file lists available.
MHC Periodical Collection: Bound yearbooks for 1958-2000, paperback editions for 2001-2007. Congregational records (textual and microfilm) described under each specific congregation (23 Manitoba CMM/MCM congregations).
Most of the records of the conference of Mennonites in Manitoba have come from its offices in Winnipeg. These records have been supplemented by the papers of numerous persons who have placed their personal papers in the MHC Archives. The CMM has designated the MHC Archives as its repository and hence the Archives will continue to receive its records.
Includes: 4 videocassettes (ca. 180 min.) : VHS, 570 audio reels (ca. 30 min. each), 1147 audio cassettes (ca. 30 min. each)
Mostly English, some German
Fonds and series description completed by Tamara Dyck, March 2009.
Some restrictions apply as outlined under each series.