It’s unlikely that anyone would be surprised to learn that Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is a member of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada (MHSC). This society is made up of six provincially based Mennonite historical societies, Mennonite denominational conferences and their archives, Mennonite Central Committee, and several other Mennonite institutions such as MHV. MHSC members meet together only once a year for a series of committee meetings, a board meeting and the Annual General Meeting. This year’s meetings were held last weekend in Abbotsford, BC.
One of the key elements of these meetings is to share information about projects and activities of the various member agencies and institutions. The sharing of ideas, methods and projects is both interesting and inspiring. One of the highlights this year was touring the new premises of the Mennonite Historical Society of BC, where we learned about the way they function and the initiatives they are busy with.
Other member organizations shared updates as well. The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO) is a website operated by the Faith and Life Commission of the Mennonite World Conference, with MHSC being one of the representatives on their Management Board. This online resource of Mennonite information, begun in 1996, now has some 16,000 articles.
The Archive Committee has been very busy during the last few years developing an online photo database. This tool is the Mennonite Archival Image Database (MAID) and is designed to store archival photos, also making them available in digital form for use in historical research projects. In just a few years, approximately 12,000 images have been entered into the database. It can be found at archives.mhsc.ca.
In years past, the MHSC has commissioned the writing of three books in a series called “Mennonites in Canada.” The first two, covering the period from 1786 to 1940, are both written by the late Frank H. Epp. The third volume brings the story up to 1970 and is written by Ted Regehr. MHSC will now begin to explore the possibility of a fourth “Mennonites in Canada” volume to cover more recent history. The MHSC board made a decision to distribute remaining copies of the current books free of charge through the provincial societies. This will be a great opportunity for the public to acquire copies of some very thorough and interesting Canadian Mennonite history books.
Our meetings were held in the new Mennonite Heritage Museum in the heart of Abbotsford. This museum seeks to tell the Mennonite story going back to the 16th century, as our own museum does, but with a specific focus on the contribution of Mennonites in British Columbia. This fine facility also houses the Mennonite Historical Society of BC Archives and is sure to be a popular destination for locals as well as visitors to that city. We welcome their partnership with us in preserving and telling these stories.
This year’s meeting also included a change in leadership personnel. Lucille Mar from Quebec stepped down as President of MHSC after four years in that role, and Richard Thiessen from BC was elected to replace her. Next year’s meetings will be held in Winnipeg.
Calendar of Events
February 7: Vespers Service – 7:00 PM