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[Recipients of the MHSC Award of Excellence (left to right): John J. Friesen, Abe J. Dueck and Adolf Ens, 15 November 2018 in Winnipeg. Photo credit: Conrad Stoesz.]
Mennonite Historical Society's 50th Annual Meeting
The Mennonite Historical Society of Canada (MHSC) held its annual meeting on November 15, 2018, at the Mennonite Heritage Archives in Winnipeg. Founded in 1968, MHSC celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, with a history conference entitled "A People of Diversity: Mennonites in Canada since 1970", held at the University of Winnipeg November 15-17. There was strong affirmation at the annual meeting for another volume in the Mennonites in Canada series written by Frank H. Epp and Ted D. Regehr, which will focus on the diversity of Mennonites in Canada since 1970.
Three "Awards of Excellence" were presented to persons who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of Canadian Mennonite history by way of research and/or writing. All three taught in the history departments of either Canadian Mennonite Bible College or Mennonite Brethren Bible College for several decades, leaving their imprint on numerous students and passing on the Anabaptist vision to the next generations.
Adolf Ens began his teaching career at Canadian Mennonite Bible College in 1970. He and his wife Anna served with MCC in Indonesia and Uganda, but spent most of his teaching years in Winnipeg. He was a key player in the publication of many Mennonite history books via CMBC Publications, and is best remembered for his 2004 history of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada entitled Becoming a National Church: A History of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada, and a number of volumes that focus on the local history of the Mennonite West Reserve in Manitoba.
Abe Dueck began teaching at Mennonite Brethren Bible College in 1971 and played an integral role throughout his career in gathering, preserving and telling the Mennonite Brethren story to both college students and the public at large. From 1991-2003 he served as the director of the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, during which time he wrote numerous periodical articles for the Mennonite Historian.
John J. Friesen served as Mennonite history professor from 1970-2000 at Canadian Mennonite Bible College and Canadian Mennonite University from 2000 to 2010, the last five years part-time. His most noted monograph, Building Communities: The Changing Face of Manitoba Mennonites was published in 2007.
The full citation for these three award recipients can be read on the Society’s website (www.mhsc.ca).
The Society endorsed the founding of a Russlaender Centenary Committee with a mandate to develop a full fledged historical commemoration program, with events across Canada from Quebec to British Columbia, reflecting and celebrating the story of the 1923 immigration of Mennonites to Canada from the Soviet Union. A historical re-enactment of the Russlaender immigrants in 2023, with a train travelling across Canada from Montreal to Saskatoon, with stops in Kitchener and Winnipeg, is one of the proposals. The Society also established a committee to remember the 1922 migration to Mexico and Paraguay.
Mennonite Historical Society of Canada comprises six provincial Mennonite historical societies, four Mennonite denominational bodies, the Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg, the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, the Mennonite Heritage Archives, the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, the Mennonite Heritage Village (Steinbach), the Mennonite Heritage Museum (Abbotsford), the Institute of Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies, Canadian Mennonite University, Humanitas Anabaptist-Mennonite Centre (Langley) and Mennonite Central Committee Canada (an associate member).
The 2018 executive is Royden Loewen (Winnipeg, Manitoba), president; Richard Thiessen (Abbotsford B.D.), vice-president; Alf Redekopp (St. Catharines, Ontario), secretary; Conrad Stoesz (Winnipeg, Manitoba), treasurer; with Barb Draper (Elmira, Ontario) as the fifth member. For 2019 the executive will be Laureen Harder-Gissing (Waterloo, Ontario), president; Conrad Stoesz, vice-president; Barb Draper, secretary; Jeremy Wiebe (Winnipeg, Manitoba), treasurer; and Royden Loewen as the fifth member.
Alf Redekopp, MHSC Secretary
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Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan (MHSS)
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