2022 National Assembly

Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission

The Historical Commission through its four archives (Fresno, Abbotsford, Hillsboro, and Winnipeg) and continues to offer research and archiving services to MB churches — their institutions and their people.


One of my roles as keeper of the Winnipeg archives (Centre for MB Studies), is to help churches with their records management policies. When I’m asked by church administrators about which records to keep on file at the church and on the church’s computer hard drive/server, I suggest they keep the following:

  1. Vital records such as membership, baptism, and cemetery registers.
  2. Legal papers such as deeds, mortgages, constitutions, and bylaws.
  3. Financial records such as ledgers, bank/financial statements, and annual tax files; these need to be kept for six years in case of a Canada Revenue Agency
  4. Employment files such as payroll and employment records; these need to be kept for three years.
  5. Ministry Personnel files for each minister/staff member, including ministry application form, police record checks, records of reference checks, and all other documents related to the recruiting and supervision of ministry personnel; these files must be kept permanently.
  6. Records of organization such as meeting minutes, reports, and correspondence from church committees, boards, and annual congregational meetings (including statement of operations and budget).
  7. Publications by and about the church and its members such as newsletters and weekly
  8. Ministerial materials such as sermon samples and
  9. Special records such as photo directories, community histories, commemorative anniversary books, and videos/recordings of special events.


Finally, I suggest office administrators put one bulletin aside each week (and if your church now uses a weekly digital email newsletter, print one copy, and put it aside) and then, at end of the year, mail the collection, along with a copy of the annual congregational meeting report, to the nearest MB archives. Both bulletins/newsletters and annual reports are valuable documents for recording the life of a congregation.


My other role is to work part-time for the Historical Commission, which funds research grants and publications. For application criteria and details concerning these initiatives — and the news releases announcing past recipients and their projects — see the Commission’s website, https://mbhistory.org.


The Commission’s most recent publication is Dora Dueck’s edited collection of life-writing by 16 women church leaders, On Holy Ground: Stories by and about women in ministry leadership in the Mennonite Brethren


Church. The book — to be released in summer 2022 — documents the first-person accounts of these women’s calling to ministry. To purchase your copy, see https://www.kindredproductions.com.


For more information on these initiatives and resources, contact me at jon.isaak@mbchurches.ca.


The Historical Commission is a funded ministry of the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches.


Elected board members include Don Isaac, chair (Hillsboro), Patricia Janzen Loewen, vice-chair (Winnipeg), Chris Koop (St. Catharines), Benny Leung (Calgary), Maricela Chavez (Fresno), and Valerie Rempel, recording secretary (Fresno). Archival representation on the board includes Kevin Enns-Rempel and Hannah Keeney (Fresno), Peggy Goertzen (Hillsboro), Richard Thiessen (Abbotsford), and Jon Isaak, executive secretary (Winnipeg).

Elected board members include

Don Isaac, chair (Hillsboro)

Patricia Loewen, vice-chair (Winnipeg)

Chris Koop (St. Catharines)

Benny Leung (Calgary)

Maricela Chavez (Fresno),
Valerie Rempel, recording secretary (Fresno).


Archival representation on the board includes
Kevin Enns-Rempel and Hannah Keeney (Fresno)
Peggy Goertzen (Hillsboro)
Richard Thiessen (Abbotsford)
Jon Isaak, executive secretary (Winnipeg).


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *