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The Canadian Mennonite Bible College (CMBC) began in the Bethel Mennonite Mission Church basement, Winnipeg, Manitoba in September of 1947. Discussions about the need and feasibility of an advanced-level Bible College for Canadian Mennonites had occupied the Conference of Mennonites in Canada (CMC) from the late 1930s. In 1941 J. J. Thiessen was chair-person to a five-member committee who explored the possibility of a higher Bible School. However, no qualified person in the Mennonite community could be found to lead such an institution and the plans were dropped.
In 1945 the dream was reconfigured with some urgency as the Mennonite Brethren church had established their own Bible College in Winnipeg and demobilized Conscientious Objectors (COs) were returning to Canada and attending secular universities or fundamentalist post-secondary institutions. Finally in September 1947 classes began with Arnold Regier, an American Mennonite from Kansas, as head of the newly formed college. Four Canadians were hired to complete the faculty - I.I. Friesen, P.A. Rempel, Henry Wall and John Konrad. Other presidents that served in subsequent years included I. I. Friesen (1952-1959), Henry Poettcker (1959-1978), George K. Epp (1978-1983), John H. Neufeld (1984-1997) and Gerald Gerbrandt (1997- )(with David Schroeder and Helmut Harder as interim presidents for a period each).
For two years classes were taught in the Bethel Church basement. In 1949, CMC bought 515 Wellington Crescent, a large private home, which housed the Bible College for the next 7 years. In 1956 CMBC moved to the site in Tuxedo, in the south-west corner of Winnipeg. Here the campus development over the years as various building were constructed, including an administrative building, a residence, apartment building and a Heritage Centre.
In 1964 CMBC became designated as an approved teaching centre of the University of Manitoba which allowed Mennonite students to be simultaneously enrolled at CMBC and University where they could later complete their university education.
Discussions with other Mennonite educational institutions regarding the possibilities of closer ties or a joint educational venture also took place over the course of CMBC's history, especially in the 1980s and 1990s which led to the founding of Canadian Mennonite University (a federation of three colleges -- CMBC, Menno Simons College and Concord College in September 2000.
Scope and content
The CMBC fonds consists of the administrative records from the offices of the business manager, president, registrar and admissions. A sampling of materials consists of special programs such as lectures, recitals or other musical events. The records of the Alumni Association have also been included in this fonds.
These records could be useful for a study of education among the Mennonites, for studies of the Bible school movement and for a variety of other educational themes. For people interested in the impact of educational institutions on the intellectual orientation of a "community" these files could help to illuminate the process.
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Online version of finding aid available at: http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/programs/archives/holdings/organizations/CMBC_fonds.htm
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