Concord College

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Concord College

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Concord College was established in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1992. It developed out of the former Mennonite Brethren Bible College (MBBC), which was founded in Winnipeg in 1944. The birth of Concord College included a change of governance, vision and programming. Prior to 1992, MBBC was owned by the Canadian Conference of MB Churches. Their primary vision for the school was to provide higher-education and practical training for church workers and missionaries from a Mennonite Brethren / Anabaptist Christian perspective. As early as the 1950s MBBC was building a strengthening relationship with the University of Winnipeg and in the late 1970s they entered into an association with each other. The BC provincial conference did not have that same vision for the College in Manitoba, and their hesitations were expressed by an increased distancing and eventually their total withdrawal of support in 1992. During this process a study was done within the Mennonite community to understand what kind of Christian higher-education should emerge. In the end, MBBC could no longer be a national school due to this loss of broad provincial support. Therefore, June 30, 1992, a new board was elected by the Mennonite Brethren Provincial Conferences of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. It was the Manitoba Provincial conference who showed the most interest in the school, taking on financial liability and later full ownership of the school. Some individual supporters from the other provincial conferences remained, but this support did not cover the deficit following the withdrawal of funding from the Canadian Conference. What proved to be a beneficial transition in terms of enrollment and accreditation did have challenges. As soon as Concord College began to establish its identity, discussion began on a union between all Mennonite Colleges in Winnipeg. There was a growing feeling within large Mennonite groups that Concord College, Canadian Mennonite Bible College and Menno Simons College could work together to build on each other's strengths. These ideas remained quiet for the most part until 1995 when Art DeFehr presented a study paper called "A Mennonite University". Art was a visionary and strong supporter of what would become the Mennonite College Federation. Each college had a board that governed their respective schools. For College Federation discussions these boards met together. Al Doerksen was the Concord College Board chair and also became the Mennonite College Federation chair. Although many were hesitant about the success of a unified Mennonite College, there was an underlying drive to see this through. Provincial government support as well as the availability of property helped the dream to become a reality. After a long process of discussions and planning by the Mennonite College Federation Committee and others, a unified establishment was born and resulted in the chartering of Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in 1998. Some significant people involved in the history of Concord College were board members Art DeFehr and Al Doerksen. James N. Pankratz, was the first president of Concord College from 1992-1996, followed by Harry Olfert [1997-1998], John H. Unger [1999-2000] and Gerald Gerbrandt [CMU 2001-]


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