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The Conference of Mennonites in Canada was founded by leaders of the Bergthler Mennonites of Manitoba and the Rosenorter Mennonites of Saskatchewan. A planning session held at the home of Bishop Peter Regier of Tiefengrund, Saskatchewan in 1902 led to the first annual session of the conference which was held at Hochstadt (near Altona), Manitoba in 1903. The conference was founded upon the agreement that there was a need for a larger organization to unite and minister to the smaller scattered congregations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. At the first session it was decided that there should be a conference publication. A publication committee was elected which resulted in the establishment of a German language monthly paper entitled "Mitarbeiter" in 1906 edited by Heinrich H. Ewert. In 1904 the delegates ratified the first constitution. The name of the organization was Conference of Mennonites in Central Canada. In 1906 a three man "Reisepredigt Komitee" (travelling ministry committee) was elected during the annual sessions. After 1909 it committee operated under the name "Komitee fuer Innere Mission" (Home Missions Committee).
In 1907 there were 36 congregations participating in the CMC -- 18 from the Bergthaler Mennonite of Manitoba, 14 from the Rosenorter Mennonite Church of Saskatchewan and 3 from the Herbert (Sask) region and one from Quill Lake. With the immigration of many Mennonites from the USSR in the 1920s, the number of congregations participating in the CMC increased to 136 by 1927.
In 1931 the Bergthaler Mennonite Church of Manitoba formed the Mennonite Pioneer Mission which later became a program of the CMC (1960). In 1933 CMC appointed Bernhard Schellenberg as archivist for the conference. In 1947 the CMC founded the Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg and elected a separate board responsible for its operation and development. Also in the same year a Board of Education and Publication was created, amalgamating several committees. In 1956 the Board of Christian Service and the Board of Finance was formed; and the Committee for Home Missions and the Committee for Foreign Missions (1947) were merged to form the Board of Missions.
The CMC hired David P. Neufeld as its first executive secretary in 1961. He was suceeded by Jake Letkemann (1967-1971), Henry Gerbrandt (1971-1981), Larry Kehler (1981-1989), Helmut Harder (1990-1999) and Dan Nighswander (1999- ).
A new constitution was adopted at the annual session in 1971 in which five boards were reduced to four boards -- General Board, Congregational Resources Board, CMBC Board and Mennonite Pioneer Mission. The conference executive assumed responsibility for finances. A History/Archives committee functioned in relationship with CMBC, CRB and General Board at various times.
In 1988 the United Mennonites Conference of Ontario (UM) merged with the Mennonite conference of Ontario and Quebec and the Western Ontario Mennonite Conference to form the Mennonite Conference of Eastern Canada (MCEC) bringing many Swiss Mennonite churches in the CMC as associate members. These churches joined as full members in 1995 changing the character and balance of the conference.
In 1994 the conference was again reorganized into the General Board and three commissions: the Resource Commission, the Leadership Commission, and the Ministries Commission. In 1999 the conference took over its share of the general conference and became Mennonite Church Canada (MC Canada).
A history of the CMC entitled "Becoming a National Church" by Adolf Ens was published in 2004.
Scope and content
This fonds consists of the records of the various committee, boards, staff and offices of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada. They have been described on the basis of the conference structure under based on the 1994 conference structure for administering the program -- 3 boards and several auxillary organizations. These are:
A. General Board (1903-1999)
B. Resources Commission (1922-1999)
C. Native Ministries (1948-1994)
D. Auxilary Organizations (1947-1996) including Canadian Mennonite Youth Organization (1947-1967), Canadian Mennonite Men (1956-1981) and Canadian Women in Mission (1954-1996).
A fourth elected board under the conference structure was the Canadian Mennonite Bible College board, which has been described as a separate fonds.
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Online version of finding aid available at: http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/programs/archives/holdings/organizations/CMC_fonds.htm
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